TBILISI, Republic of Georgia --
Since 2009, the Georgian Armed Forces have answered the call to train and fight side-by-side the Marine Corps and other International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF), while participating in the Georgia Deployment Program.
This program was created to provide GAF soldiers a pre-deployment training package, enabling them to seamlessly integrate into the Marine Corps’ area of responsibility and operational tempo.
“One of the main goals of this trip is to better get to know our Georgian counterparts who have been with us in the fight for the better part of a decade, in Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Lt. Gen. John M. Paxton, Jr., commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Europe. “They train well, they are fierce fighters, good soldiers and great mates with us and they are working in Regional Command Southwest with the Marines in Helmand Province right now.”
Not only does this training serve as pre-deployment training, it also serves as a way to strengthen our partnerships, ensure interoperability, and maintain theater security.
“Gentlemen, the impact you are going to have comes down to professionalism. You are going to be professional your whole tour here,” said Sgt. Maj. James J. McCook, sergeant major, Marine Corps Forces, Europe to a group of Marines assigned to Gerogia Training Team 8/9. “The fruits of your labor are going to be how the Georgians turn out after this training and, from what I see, they look pretty good right now.”
Lieutenant General Paxton was also accompanied by Col. James S. O’Meara, deputy commander, Marine Corp Forces, Europe, and CMC Michael R. Ruiz, Command Master Chief, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command.
During the visit the party toured GAF facilities and training areas, met with Marines, soldiers and sailors assisting and conducting the GDP-I course of study for the 42d and 32d Georgian Armed Forces battalions; who are currently slated to deploy to Afghanistan after their training cycle concludes.
Along with touring military facilities and shaking hands with Marines and GAF soldiers, Paxton’s contingent met with U.S. Embassy personnel, members of the Georgian Ministry of Defense, Prime Minister-elect Bidzina Ivanishvili from the Georgian Dream Coalition and some members of his coalition.
Training is ongoing and the GAF have increased their participation with ISAF to include two battalions of soldiers in Afghanistan to work with Marines and ISAF personnel to carry out the mission levied to them by their senior leaders and the battle space commander.
“It's a great mission and the Marines have embraced their roles as teachers and trainers,”said
Lt. Col. Mark A. Lamelza, commanding officer, Georgia Training Team Rotation 8/9.