Republic of Georgia troops train alongside Marines during rehearsal exercise
By Staff Sgt. Vitaliy Rusavskiy
| Marine Corps | March 07, 2014
HOHENFELS, Germany --
Two battalions from the Republic of Georgia completed a Mission Readiness Exercise aboard Joint Multinational Readiness Center, Hohenfels, Germany, Feb. 23. The MRE was the capstone event for the battalions before their deployment to Afghanistan.
Georgian Special Mountain and 23rd Light Infantry battalions have been training more than six months alongside Marines with Georgia Liaison and Georgia Training Teams in order to enhance and build partnership, and readiness capacity within forces.
“The intent of the MRE is to assess the two battalions against the standards required for their mission in Afghanistan; Georgian units, reinforced with some Marine Corps enablers, are expected to be capable of ‘owning battlespace’ in theater and as such are held to the highest standards,” said Col. Matt Baker, commanding officer of the Marine Corps Security Cooperation Group.
United States Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa is the lead component for coordinating the GDP-ISAF program, while the Marine Corps Security Cooperation Group is the lead command with direct coordination responsibility for training the Georgian battalions with support from Training and Education Command and the operating forces. MCSCG also executes security cooperation engagement planning, education and training, and advisory support for GLTs and GTTs.
During the first five months of training conducted in the Republic of Georgia, Marines from the GLT were responsible for mentoring Georgian counterparts in their areas of expertise. The GLTs have also built trust and confidence within Georgian soldiers, as well as broke the cultural barrier in order to successfully execute the mission, while embedding within the Georgian battalions.
“This training has a huge importance to the success of our mission; we get to know the Afghani culture, their traditions and habits, without this training we would have a very big obstacle while performing operations in Afghanistan,” said Georgian Maj. Malokaz Chikovani, chief of staff for Special Mountain Battalion. “We would like to thank all the Marines for the training they provided, they have done everything to give us a capability and transferred their knowledge to set us up for success; the Marines advisors became more than just assistants, they became our friends as well.”
Chikovani also mentioned the importance of working together and serving side-by-side in Afghanistan to provide peace and prosperity in the region.
“It is a very unique opportunity to experience and be immersed into the Georgian culture while working with the level of talent within our command,” said Capt. John J. Straub, a communication officer with MCSCG, who is currently attached as a GLT member with the Georgian Special Mountain Battalion. “I am really excited about this deployment; we now have a unique bond with the Georgians, but we still approach training on a professional level.”
The Marines typically spend 12 to 16 months with each Georgian Battalion to include both training in Republic of Georgia and JMRC, as well as deploy with them to Afghanistan to ensure mission success and mentorship. Georgian forces have been training with the Marine Corps since 2009 as a part of the Georgia Deployment Program – International Security Assistance Force. It was originally scheduled for two years but due to the great success, the program has been extended through 2014.
“While the future of the Afghanistan war effort is subject to the political process, it is safe to say that our partnership with the Georgians going forward is certain,” said Baker. “This program has cemented our nations.”