HOHENFELS, Germany --
Approximately 18 hours after the Republic of Georgia’s Alpha Company, 23rd Light Infantry Battalion, arrived and settled in at its combat outpost during their mission rehearsal exercise aboard Joint Multinational Readiness Center, Hohenfels, Germany, the unit was attacked by enemy insurgents (portrayed by Army soldiers from 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment) using indirect and scout sniper fire, Feb. 18.
At the time of the attack, the Georgians were deeply involved in the process of implementing the great majority of their COP defense; however, they were not completely caught by surprise and responded well according to one of the Marines on site.
“The security plan that the Alpha Company Commander implemented last night had a timely and effective QFR [quick reaction force] and the watch towers had accurate reporting procedures,” said Marine 2nd Lt. Daniel Paton, a Georgia Liaison Team adviser for Alpha Company, 23rd LIB. “The fires [indirect and scout sniper] made them realize that the patrolling effect around the COP is just as important as the patrolling effort around the village.”
The insurgent attack on the COP lasted for no more than 15 minutes. The enemy used three mortar rounds and a handful of scout snipers to fire and temporarily disrupt the Georgian’s plan for the day.
“This is a learning experience for the Georgians,” added Paton, who is a native of Toms River, New Jersey. “It also teaches them the value of utilizing technology in the battlefield with the GBOSS [Ground Based Operational Surveillance System] now being set-up after the attack. Utilizing this technology will help prevent any future complex attacks.”
According to the Marine Corps Systems Command’s Website, the GBOSS provides (24/7) display and tracking of items of interest through the use of high resolution day and night cameras with enhanced target recognition and radar to enhance the ability to detect moving targets. These capabilities enhance situational awareness by allowing the Commander to monitor activities along roads, borders, rivers, pipelines, and other choke points. After the attack, the company tweaked its COP defense and sent out a squad to patrol the surrounding areas of the COP.
“Today is their first full-day at the COP,” said Marine Sgt. Michael Rines, who is an observer controller with Alpha Company. “They are still learning the area and getting situational awareness. This morning’s patrol went well but I expect the unit’s patrols to keep improving as the week progresses.”
While the security has been the primary effort for the COP and the nearby village, the Alpha Company Commander has made Counterinsurgency a priority and he planned to attend a “Shura” (Arabic word for consultation) later in the morning despite the disruption caused earlier in the day by the attack.
“It is essential for the unit to develop positive relations with the local villagers to achieve mission success at the exercise and more importantly their mission during their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan,” added Paton who is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate. “My hope for the end of the MRE is that every failure that the unit commits during training exercise becomes a success in theatre.”
The MRE 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.
Over the coming days, the Georgian soldiers will continue to 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.
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 - RC(SW). 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.
“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.”
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. T
he 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 commanders’ objectives.
“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 [COIN] environment."