By Ms. Kim C Gillespie (USASAC)May 14, 2013
Maj. Gen. Del Turner, commander of the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command, recently visited Georgia and Morocco as part of the command's strategic engagements with U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command countries. Turner was accompanied by USASAC Command Sgt. Maj. Rodger Mansker and Col. Marvin Whitaker, director for the command's EUCOM/AFRICOM Regional Operations Directorate.
Known as the "Army's Face to the World," USASAC's military, civilians and contractors maintain contacts with officials of more than 140 countries the command supports through security assistance and Foreign Military Sales.
"These engagements allow us to see firsthand how we are building the country's capacity and capabilities," Whitaker said.
Georgia is a coalition partner that has more than 1,600 troops serving in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. With 41 FMS cases that range from equipment to training, the engagements conducted by USASAC included U.S., Georgia Ministry of Defense and Georgian Armed Forces officials.
"The DCM (deputy chief of mission, U.S. Embassy, Bridget Brink) emphasized that these are challenging times and continued engagements are key and encouraged," Whitaker explained.
During meetings with the Office of Defense Cooperation and the Senior Defense Office Defense Attaché, Turner, Mansker and Whitaker were told of the importance of coalition partner capacity, and how the deployment of Georgian soldiers reduces the need for U.S. Soldiers to deploy.
Building partner capacity was also a topic of conversation for the Georgian Ministry of Defense.
"The deputy defense minister (Tamar Karonsanidze) expressed how grateful they were with U.S. (security) assistance and transformation of their military and noted that a big part of this (success) was their transparency and knowledge to the public, which leads to trust," Whitaker said. "Maj. Gen. Turner responded that like Georgia, many countries choose FMS because of the big three: integrity within the contract, transparency of the process, and the Total Package Approach."
The Total Package Approach is a "package" through FMS that includes not just materiel, but training, facilities, spare parts, publications, maintenance and logistics support and other services that ensure a capability.
The Army manages cases for training that are conducted by Marine Corps Mobile Training Teams, so a visit to Georgia's Krtsanisi National Training Area was also included as part of the engagement.
"The visit to KTA was really the highlight of the visit because we observed the MTT conducting training with the Georgian battalions that will be deploying to Afghanistan," Whitaker said. Future plans for the academy were also discussed with the USASAC team.
The engagements conducted in Morocco were similar to the Georgian engagements with meetings with the U.S. Country Team, the Office of Security Cooperation, Moroccan Ministry of Defense's general inspector of the Moroccan Royal Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Abdelaziz Bennani and the director 4th Bureau of the Moroccan Army.
"Lt. Gen. Bennani specifically pointed out that we have an 'indestructible military relationship,'" Whitaker said. "Much of the discussion with Morocco involved critical FMS cases, EDA (Excess Defense Articles), training and spare parts."
USASAC's motto is "Strength in Cooperation," and according to Whitaker, that is exactly what these recent engagements were about.