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By Gunnery Sgt. Alexis Mulero | | February 16, 2012

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More than 1,000 U.S., Georgian and Bulgarian military service members began the final phase of a mission rehearsal exercise at Joint Multinational Readiness Center, Hohenfels, Germany, Feb. 16.

The mission rehearsal exercise is the culminating event for the Republic of Georgia’s 23rd Light Infantry Battalion prior to deploying to Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations in support of the Georgia Deployment Program–International Security Assistance Force. The total training exercise runs Feb. 1-24.

U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Europe is the lead component for planning, coordination and execution of the GDP-ISAF program and Marine Corps Security Cooperation Group is the lead command with direct responsibility for training the Georgian battalions with support from training and education command and multiple operating force units. The Marine Corps Security Cooperation Group coordinates, manages, executes, and evaluates Marine Corps Security Cooperation programs and activities in order to facilitate service and regional component support to combatant commander's objectives.

“GDP-ISAF is a very unique mission – it shows how adaptive the Marine Corps can be when we applied to building the capacity of partner nations,” said Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Brown, officer in charge of the rehearsal exercise. “The mission also demonstrates how building partner capacity can have a significant impact on assisting the U.S. with confronting challenges around the globe – Afghanistan in this case.”

The original GDP-ISAF program was a two-year train and equip mission designed to prepare four Georgian infantry battalions in sequence for operations in Afghanistan with Regional Command Southwest. As of May 2011, the program is now GDP-ISAF II, a subsequent extension of the original program for training and deploying nine additional Georgian infantry battalions over three years.

“Our intention is to give the Georgians soldiers the essential training and preparation to operate with Marines and the Afghan National Army in stabilizing the security environment in Afghanistan," said Brown who is a native of the Silicon Valley in California. “This MRE has been designed to replicate the RC(SW) area of operations and provide a scenario that evaluates the 23rd Georgian Light Infantry Battalion’s ability to operate within a counter-insurgency environment."

Over the following days, Georgian soldiers will patrol the JMRC training area seeking insurgents, weapons caches, and improvised explosive device factories in partnership with a simulated Afghan partner force as well as engaging and working to influence Afghan civilian role players. The Georgian soldiers will be tested with a full-spectrum of challenges from kinetic attacks to meetings with local civilians to gain information and negotiate differences.

 “Conducting the MRE at JMRC Hohenfels, enables the United States military to train, evaluate and certify THE GDP-ISAF battalions in full spectrum COIN with few limitations,” said Gunnery Sgt. Will Price, the public affairs officer at MARFOREUR.

 At the conclusion of the exercise, MCSCG with the observations from Marine and supporting JMRC mentors, draft a final assessment of the Georgian 23rd Light Infantry Battalion’s capabilities. This assessment will be provided to the commander, RC(SW), to assist him in deciding how to best employ the battalion during its pending deployment to Afghanistan.


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