HOHENFELS, Germany --
More than 100 Republic of Georgia soldiers with Bravo Company, 42nd Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) expressed their love for actors portraying enemy insurgents with bullets vice flowers during a Valentine’s Day out-of-sector battalion clearance operation at a training village aboard Joint Multinational Readiness Center Hohenfels, Germany, Feb. 14.
During the operation, Bravo Company soldiers provided the 42nd LIB’s main effort and penetrated suspected enemy checkpoints to seize insurgents and contraband.
“This was an important battalion-level operation,” said Maj. Shawn Rickrode, an assessment officer for the Georgian’s Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRE). “It exercised the battalion staff in execution of offensive actions and it gave them an opportunity to properly synchronize all resources available to them in the battlefield in order to achieve a tactical objective.”
The Mission Rehearsal Exercise is the culminating event for the Republic of Georgia’s 33rd and 42nd Light Infantry Battalion prior to deploying to Afghanistan to conduct security operations in support of the Georgia Deployment Program – International Security Assistance Force (GDP-ISAF). The total training exercise ran from Jan. 22 – Feb 22.
“MRE is the block for mission readiness evaluation of the Georgians,” said Col. Matt Baker, commanding officer at Marine Corps Security Cooperation Group. “It is equivalent to the certification exercise (formerly known as “Mojave Viper”) Marines conduct in Twenty-nine Palms, California, prior to deployment.”
U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Europe (MARFOREUR) is the lead component for planning, coordination and execution of the GDP-ISAF program and Marine Corps Security Cooperation Group (MCSCG) is the lead command with direct responsibility for training the Georgian battalions with support from Training and Education Command (TECOM) and multiple Operating Force units. Marine Corps Security Cooperation Group executes and enables security cooperation (SC) programs, training, planning, and activities in order to ensure unity of effort in support of U.S. Marine Corps and regional Marine Component Command (MARFOR) objectives and in coordination with operating forces and Marine Air-Ground Task Forces.
“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 Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Brown, executive officer for MCSCG. “This MRE has been designed to replicate the RC(SW) area of operations and provide a scenario that evaluates the 33rd and 42nd Georgian Light Infantry Battalion’s ability to operate within a counter-insurgency (COIN) environment."
Throughout the exercise, Georgian soldiers patrolled the JMRC training area seeking insurgents, weapons caches, and improvised explosive device (IED) factories in partnership with a simulated Afghan partner force as well as engaging and working to influence Afghan civilian role players. The Georgian soldiers were tested with a full-spectrum of challenges from kinetic attacks to meetings with local civilians to gain information and negotiate differences.
“We have mentored and advised the Georgians for the last six months,” said Sgt. Jonathan Shook, a Marine observer controller who formed part of the Georgia Training Team. “We implemented a crawl-walk-run approach to implementing their training and they have progressed at the envisioned rate. They have really done a great job learning and adapting Marine Corps doctrine into their war fighting capabilities. We definitely expect them to work well with the Marines in country (Afghanistan).”
"The Republic of Georgia's 33rd and 42nd Light Infantry Battalion soldiers are motivated, well led and ready to support the mission in Regional Command Southwest, Afghanistan," said Baker who is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. "The Georgians pre-deployment training has been exceptionally effective and successful over the past five months. Their current readiness can be attributed to a solid combination Georgian's leadership and enthusiasm, and the hard work and dedication of all the U.S. Marines, Soldiers, and Sailors that enabled this training program."
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.
"The GDP-ISAF program has grown over the years into one of the finest modern examples of how the Marine Corps can build a partner’s capacity through equipping, training, and advising," added Baker. "The Georgian soldiers and U.S. Marines have worked exceptionally well together. These two battalions are tactically proficient and ready for their deployment to Afghanistan to assume a significant area of responsibility within Regional Command Southwest."