U.S. Troops in Georgia to Begin Counterterrorism Training
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 30, 2002 The first 20 U.S. service members have arrived in Tbilisi, Georgia, and will begin training the Caucasus republic's troops in counterterrorism operations, Defense Department officials said April 30.
Called the "Georgia Train and Equip" program, at its high- water mark it will involve 150 Americans, they said. Plans call for more than 2,000 Georgian soldiers to receive the training, which is intended to help them go after suspected terrorists who have infiltrated into the Pankisi Gorge area of the country.
American service members will play no advisory role, as they do in the Philippines, the officials said.
The team in place now will perform site surveys. Pentagon officials said they expect the team to select four places to perform the training.
The training will break into two areas. The first is concerned with the tactical level and will go over individual combat skills such as marksmanship, communications protocols, land navigation and the like. U.S. special operations forces will also give the Georgian soldiers human rights education.
These individual skills will be used by platoons and companies as the training builds, Pentagon officials said. The ultimate goal is to instruct four Georgian battalions in light infantry tactics, including platoon-level offensive and defensive operations and basic airmobile tactics.
This training will last about 100 days.
At the same time, other trainers will work with senior Georgian commanders to improve the military's staff planning and work. The training also may include Georgian border guards and other security agencies. The 70-day training program aims at building a strong, effective staff organization that can create and sustain standard operating procedures, training plans, operational plans and a property accounting system.
Pentagon officials described this training as mirroring what American officers receive at service war colleges.
In addition to the training, the Georgian military will also receive military equipment and supplies. These include uniforms, small arms and ammunition, communications gear, training gear, medical gear, fuel and construction materiel.
The program is under the command of the U.S. Special Operations Command, Europe, a part of U.S. European Command.