HOHENFELS TRAINING AREA, Germany (Army News Service March 7, 2007) - At first glance, they look like U.S. Soldiers.

They wear combat uniforms and move just as swiftly as some of the U.S. Army's elite. But these AK-47 toting troops are from the Republic of Georgia, here to train alongside V Corps' 12th Combat Aviation Brigade Soldiers preparing for their upcoming deployment to Iraq.

The 12th CAB is in the final days of a Mission Readiness Exercise that put its Soldiers "in battle" alongside troops from the Republic of Georgia's 33rd Infantry Battalion.

"The interoperability training between the Georgian infantry and the 12th CAB aircrews reinforces both of our air assault capabilities," said Col. Timothy Edents, 12th CAB commander.

Training with foreign troops has its challenges, according to 12th CAB's Soldiers. Tactics, techniques and procedures are often vastly different, as are each nation's language and customs.

Only seven soldiers from the 33rd Inf. Bn. who participated in the training spoke English, forcing Soldiers from both nations to be creative in communicating and solving problems.

Maj. Nikoloz Ikoshvili, 33rd Inf. Bn. commander, said he wished all Soldiers could speak the same language, but because those training here could not, each platoon was provided with an interpreter. Ikoshvili said that proved adequate, because where words fail, the language of combat training takes over.

"What we know about tactics, is what your Soldiers have taught us," he said. "We were trained by American Soldiers."

The exercise provided "firsts" for both sides - the first time aircrews of the 12th's 5th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, have worked with Georgian Soldiers, and the first time soldiers of the 33rd Inf. Bn. Have flown in American UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

Lt. Col. Sam Hamontree, the 12th's deputy commander, described the training as a "win-win situation."

"(The Georgians) train very hard, rain or shine," he said. "They mount up in their 'deuce-and-a-halfs' (2.5-ton trucks) every day and do what good infantrymen do. Their discipline and common soldier skills are very high."

Located on the Black Sea, Georgia lies at the crossroads of Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Although Georgia claimed its independence from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, it is one of the oldest countries in Europe.

In April 2002 the Defense Department introduced the Georgia Train and Equip Program to respond to the government of Georgia's request for assistance in enhancing its counter-terrorism capabilities. American Soldiers trained four light-infantry battalions and one mechanized-armor company. Although the program ended in 2004, military-to-military assistance programs between the two nations continue.

The Georgian army is also slated to deploy to Iraq later this year.

(Sgt. 1st Class Chris Seaton writes for the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs Office.)

Page last updated Wed March 7th, 2007 at 13:02