TBILISI, Georgia -- Shared Horizons 2013 concluded June 21 during a closing ceremony at the national Ministry of Defense Headquarters to commemorate the weeklong bilateral civil-military exercise, here.

Shared Horizons, run annually since 2011, is a U.S. European Command-directed exercise conducted by U.S. Army Europe designed to prepare the Republic of Georgia government to provide civil response in the event of a natural disaster. The intent of the exercise was to assess the preparedness of responsible ministries in case of an emergency and identify and address deficiencies. The exercise was also conducted to provide insight to U.S. participants as to the processes used by the Republic of Georgia and identify procedures to integrate relief if requested by the government of the Republic of Georgia.

"These exercises allow us the chance to share ideas, lessons learned and techniques in all aspects, both civilian and military related," said Col. Anthony Abbot, the exercise co-director with the state of Georgia Army National Guard. "The partnership between ourselves and the Country of Georgia is mutualistic, we both learn as mentors as well as trainees."

This year the exercise included roughly 100 participants including U.S. Army Soldiers with the Georgia National Guard and the 80th Civil Affairs Battalion out of Ft. Bliss, Texas working together with the civil-military response teams of the Republic of Georgia's ministries of Defense and Interior.

"The National Guard is a long term partner for the long haul, which enables us to pick certain areas to focus on and sustain in order to achieve goals and milestones set and also allows us to grow long term relationships, improving trust and being effective," said Lt. Col. David Johnson, State Partnership Peace Program director for the Georgia National Guard. "Not everyone gets that benefit or opportunity."

Shared Horizons 2013 is the third and final iteration in this bi-lateral exercise which has run annually since 2011. The U.S. Army National Guard's State Partnership Program has ensured nearly two decades of teamwork between the state of Georgia's Army National Guard and the Republic of Georgia, dating back to1994.