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Noble Partner Supports Georgia's NATO Response Force Integration

By Army Staff Sgt. Aaron Duncan, U.S. Special Operations Command Europe

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VAZIANI, Georgia, Aug. 16, 2017 — Georgian special operations forces took part in exercise Noble Partner here July 30-Aug. 12, developing interoperability with conventional forces from not only their own military, but that of the U.S. and participating nations.

A Georgian special operations soldier instructs Georgian infantrymen on room-clearing techniques
A Georgian special operations soldier, right, instructs Georgian infantrymen on room-clearing techniques in Vaziani training area, Georgia, during exercise Noble Partner Aug. 3, 2017. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Duncan
A Georgian special operations soldier instructs Georgian infantrymen on room-clearing techniques Georgian SOF trains conventional forces
A Georgian special operations soldier, right, instructs Georgian infantrymen on room-clearing techniques in Vaziani training area, Georgia, during exercise Noble Partner Aug. 3, 2017. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Duncan

Noble Partner is an annual U.S. Army Europe-led exercise designed to support Georgia’s integration into the NATO Response Force. The exercise allows multinational partners to work together in a realistic and challenging training event. About 2,800 troops from Armenia, Georgia, Germany, Slovenia, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the U.S. participated in multiple locations across Georgia.

"In many ways, the exercise was a new way of operating for GSOF," said a U.S. Army Special Forces advisor to GSOF.

U.S. Special Operations Command Europe played an advisory role with GSOF during the exercise in order to mentor the Georgian SOF on building interoperability with U.S., Georgian and other multinational conventional forces.

"Soceur’s contribution was very helpful," said a GSOF officer involved in the planning of the exercise. "They helped us understand the capabilities and procedures that allowed us to integrate with multinational forces. They also served as a link to coordinate our activities."

State Partnership Program

In addition to Soceur, the GSOF also worked closely with the Georgia National Guard. The two have participated in the State Partnership Program, which pairs U.S. states with 22 European nations and 65 worldwide, since 1994. 

"Working with the GSOF was awesome," said Georgia Army National Guard Capt. Christopher Pulliam, commander of the 121st Infantry Regiment ’s Hotel Company. "Our mission set requires that we work in small teams that gather specific intel in the area of operations," he said. "The GSOF understand this and can use our intel to create a better understanding of the situation on the ground and react accordingly."

Pulliam's company conducted combined airborne operations alongside GSOF troops, and during the field exercise was assigned under their command, allowing GSOF to complete objectives through their coordinated efforts. With the Georgia Army National Guard conducting reconnaissance, GSOF was able to execute a raid on an enemy position.

The Georgian troops also worked with the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard during Noble Partner.

"This is the first time the Georgians have jumped from a C-130," said Georgia Air National Guard Lt. Col. Donald Pallone, the vice air commander of the 165th Airlift Wing. "They are learning from us and we are learning from them. This helps us build our interoperability and furthers the Georgia National Guard’s [state] partnership with the Georgians."

A jumpmaster leads U.S. and Georgian soldiers through sustained airborne training
A jumpmaster, right, assigned to the Georgia Army National Guard’s Hotel Company, 121st Infantry Regiment, leads U.S. and Georgian soldiers through sustained airborne training in Norio, Georgia, before a combined airborne operation as part of exercise Noble Partner, Aug. 3, 2017. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Duncan
A jumpmaster leads U.S. and Georgian soldiers through sustained airborne training U.S. paratroopers conduct prejump training with Georgian SOF
A jumpmaster, right, assigned to the Georgia Army National Guard’s Hotel Company, 121st Infantry Regiment, leads U.S. and Georgian soldiers through sustained airborne training in Norio, Georgia, before a combined airborne operation as part of exercise Noble Partner, Aug. 3, 2017. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Aaron Duncan

Call For Fire

GSOF also trained on calling for indirect fire working with the U.S. Air Force’s 2nd Air Support Operations Squadron. This training also provided them the ability to learn the same procedures as their conventional forces and U.S. forces and share these procedures throughout GSOF.

"The Georgian military was very motivated and eager to learn how to incorporate indirect fires control to enhance their combat capabilities," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Justin Tamayo, a joint terminal attack controller with the 2nd Air Support Operations Squadron. "We were able to train both the GSOF and conventional parties simultaneously, and from the classes we taught we are confident that interoperability was strengthened amongst their military as well as with U.S. forces and partner nations."

GSOF also trained on their military assistance mission by training Georgian and Ukrainian conventional forces on the tactics and procedures of clearing rooms and passing through friendly defensive lines. 

"To be able to accomplish its military assistance mission, GSOF must be able to teach classes and train other soldiers," said the U.S. Army Special Forces advisor to GSOF. "Teaching and training is a skill that must be practiced.  Noble Partner was a great opportunity for GSOF to build its military assistance skills while also improving the combat skills of Georgian and Ukrainian infantry."

The ability to plan training that involves both internal and multinational military forces is in itself a skill that has to be learned. Noble Partner provided the chance for GSOF staff to build upon their capability to conduct such training.

"This was a new experience for us," said a GSOF officer involved in the planning of the exercise. "It allowed us to develop how we will work with conventional and multinational forces in the future."

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Mark Schwartz, the commander of Soceur, visited with GSOF leadership and observed soldiers participating in the exercise. During his visit, GSOF briefed Schwartz on upcoming exercise events and how GSOF plans to continue developing their interoperability with conventional forces. 

"In the future, if GSOF and multinational forces have to work together, training together will allow us to understand how to work fluently with each other," said a team leader from the GSOF company conducting the training. "It will help us integrate our tactics with theirs and direct their efforts with ours."