By Georgia National GuardJuly 15, 2008
WINDER, Ga. (Army News Service, July 15, 2008) -- About 300 Georgia National Guard Soldiers arrived in Tiblisi, Georgia, Monday for Immediate Response 2008, a three-week international exercise to help build relationships with coaliton partners from several Eastern European nations.
Soldiers and Marines from the United States, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Ukraine will conduct this joint training exercise at Vaziani Military Base and the surrounding area. The annual, bilateral security cooperation exercise is conducted between U.S. , NATO and coalition partners, to focus on interoperability training and theater security cooperation, officials said.
A seven-member team from the American Forces Network-Europe is also in the Republic of Georgia conducting live radio programming and radio/TV news coverage for the 1,000-plus U.S. troops, along with allied servicemembers deployed to the training area. AFN-E deployed its Tactical Mobile Radio and Television System to the exercise for the third consecutive year.
The state of Georgia will be represented in the exercise by the 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry, headquartered in Winder, Ga.
"This is a great opportunity not just to prepare for future missions in Afghanistan, but to build the relationship our state has with the country of Georgia," said Maj. Matthew Smith, commander of the 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry. "I've really enjoyed working with soldiers from the other Georgia as we've prepared for this exercise."
Highlights of the joint training exercise include marksmanship, patrolling and combat lifesaving exercises. A day is devoted to gathering sergeants together from the various countries to train together on the particular challenges of being non-commissioned officers.
"The training will be a great developmental opportunity for the Republic of Georgia because they have a young NCO corps, and they stand to learn a lot from our NCOs," Smith said.
"It's also a great opportunity for our NCOs, because they'll learn how to work with foreign counterparts, and to learn the cultures and customs of our allies," said Command Sgt. Maj. Calvin Wilcox, 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry.
The nation of Georgia has provided consistent support to coalition Global War on Terrorism operations and is the third-largest force contributor to Operation Iraqi Freedom, behind the U.S. and United Kingdom.