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U.S. Marine-Led Task Force Trains Republic of Georgia Soldiers

By Staff Sgt. Jonathan Moor, USMC
Special to American Forces Press Service

KRTSANISI, Georgia, March 27, 2006 – A U.S. Marine-led task force marked the completion of training for two Georgian logistics battalions in a ceremony here March 24.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Sgt. Michael Szeman evaluates Republic of Georgia soldiers on weapons marksmanship at a range in Krtsanisi, Georgia, Feb. 22. A 53-member U.S. task force, consisting mainly of veterans of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, is training the Georgian soldiers to deploy to Iraq. U.S. European Command's Georgia Sustainment and Stability Operations Program assists the Georgian armed forces sustain those ongoing deployments. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Moor, USMC
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

"I know personally many of the U.S. task force members feel this was the most rewarding thing they have done since they joined the U.S. military," said Marine Lt. Col. William McGowan, commander of the Georgia Sustainment and Stability Operations Program task force. "They believe that helping Georgia, a country that not long ago was a stranger to the United States, is the right thing to do."

The U.S. European Command program assists and enhances Georgia's military capability to sustain its contribution to peacekeeping efforts in Iraq. In this round, the Marines trained logistics soldiers with the Republic of Georgia's 1st and 2nd brigades.

"Georgia is also helping the U.S. in many, many ways with the global war on terrorism. Both the United Sates and Georgia view one another as true friends today and for the future," McGowan said.

When deployed, the Georgian soldiers will be part of the international coalition providing stability operations in Iraq.

The Georgian soldiers started their training in January with squad-level tactics and battalion staff-level operations. The squad-level training included patrolling, weapons handling, convoy operations, military operations in urban terrain, and first aid, U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Roy Brady explained.

The staff training will help the Georgian staff handle command and control of their battalion, Marine Capt. Jason Richter, the training program's operations officer, said.

The language barrier was a challenge during the training, Brady mentioned. Few people speak Georgian outside the Caucasus region. The training had to be conducted entirely through a team of interpreters, which presented difficulties when communicating complicated military terms and concepts.

A primary effect of the program is that the Georgian army, along with U.S.-trained Georgian law enforcement officers, is more capable of securing Georgia's boarders, U.S. officials said. They added this keeps the Caucasus region off the ever-shrinking list of potential safe havens for terrorists.

With relatively little funding and few U.S. troops acting only in a training capacity, the U.S. is helping its Georgian ally in the global war on terror to become a strong and stable nation. Georgia is a key land route between Europe and the Middle East. A strong Georgia means one less road for terrorists to travel, officials said.

In his closing remarks to the Georgian soldiers, McGowan said, "On behalf of the entire Task Force, I wish you Godspeed, fair winds and following seas. Semper Fidelis."

(Marine Staff Sgt. Jonathan Moor is assigned to the Georgia Sustainment and Stability Operations Program.)

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