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Soldiers Assure Operational Readiness for Global Partner Exercise

Sept. 16, 2020 | BY ARMY SPC. ISAIAH MATTHEWS , Georgia Army National Guard

U.S. soldiers from the 557th Medical Company Area Support, Baumholder, Germany, conducted COVID-19 testing during Exercise Noble Partner 20 at the Vaziani Military Base Training Area near Tbilisi, Georgia, Sept. 10, 2020.

To minimize the spread of the virus and preserve the safety and readiness of the force, the Defense Department and the Department of the Army have partnered with the Republic of Georgia to achieve acceptable results for troop safety. U.S. and Georgian medical personnel are working together to screen and test soldiers on the Vaziani Military Base Training Area throughout the exercise. Operational readiness is vital during a global public health crisis.

"Each soldier was administered a COVID-19 test at their home station 72 hours prior to coming to Georgia," Army Sgt. Carlos Mayfield, a combat medic with the 557th MCAS and noncommissioned officer in charge, said. "They must have received a negative response on that test. Upon arriving in Georgia, all the documentation with the negative test results was provided to the host nation."

A soldier conducting a COVID-19 test on another soldier.
Medical Services
Army Pfc. Austin Schultz, assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, receives an oral swab during COVID-19 testing for the Noble Partner 20 exercise at the Vaziani military base in the Republic of Georgia, Sept. 10, 2020. Exercise Noble Partner is designed to enhance regional partnerships and increase U.S. force readiness and interoperability in a realistic, multinational training environment.
Photo By: Army Sgt. LaShic Patterson
VIRIN: 200910-A-YM380-1030M

All U.S. soldiers are required to complete COVID-19 upon entering and exiting quarantine to reduce the risk of exposure and transmission in Georgia.

Mitigation measures put in place required exercise modification and changes. Some of the changes included additional testing, physical distancing, hand washing and wearing personal protective equipment such as face masks. Elements of Noble Partner 20 were altered, such as the planning timeline and training events within the exercise.

The Georgia Army National Guard remained committed to the exercise despite their ongoing involvement in their country's COVID-19 mitigation efforts. U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Maurice Taylor, a combat engineer with Alpha Company, 177th Brigade Engineer Battalion, arrived in the country of Georgia to support the unit's mission and work with Georgian defense forces.

"We're in a different country," Taylor said. "I think we need to show that we can train soldiers and be safe at the same time. My soldiers know that if they have something going on, they can let the medical guys know." Army Col. Jason Fryman, Noble Partner 20 U.S. Exercise director, realizes the importance of protecting the force.

A soldier conducting a COVID-19 test on another soldier.
Medical Services
Army Sgt. Carlos Mayfield, combat medic, 557th MCAS, 30th Medical Brigade, performs a nose swab test on Army Lt. Col. Jerry Wood, Jr., squadron commander, assigned to the 4th Squadron, 2d Cavalry Regiment, during the Noble Partner 20 exercise at the Vaziani military base training area in the Republic of Georgia, Sept. 10, 2020. Exercise Noble Partner is designed to enhance regional partnerships and increase U.S. force readiness and interoperability in a realistic, multinational training environment.
Photo By: Army Sgt. LaShic Patterson
VIRIN: 200910-A-YM380-1015M

Fryman said all traffic in and out of the training area is restricted, and there are PPE and social distancing requirements for all soldiers. Soldiers are going through random testing to ensure the control measures in place are effective.

U.S. forces routinely work and train with Georgian defense forces conducting various exercises. The U.S. Army's presence in Europe promotes stability across the Caucasus Region and across Europe. Participation in joint multinational exercises enhances professional relationships and improves overall coordination with allies and partners during a crisis. The multi-domain realistic training improves interoperability and partnership capabilities among participating nations while enhancing global security.