VAZIANI TRAINING AREA, Georgia -- Exercise Noble Partner 16 welcomed senior leaders from across NATO Allied and partner nations, May 24, as the exercise wrapped up.

The day served as an opportunity for participating units to demonstrate their capabilities to distinguished visitors and also as the closing ceremony.

Light rain and heavy winds greeted the onlookers as soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division, U.K.'s 3d Rifles, and Georgia's 4th Mechanized Brigade, overtook the battlefield, utilizing air support, tanks and artillery.

The biggest demonstration of capabilities was when a Georgian bomber aircraft unloaded six 250-kilogram bombs with pin-point accuracy on the battlefield.

Shortly after, the soldier of the participating nations gathered in front of the audience as key players in the exercise were awarded for their contributions during Noble Partner and to the country of Georgia.

Additionally, key leaders spoke briefly, congratulating the units on a successful training event.

"I would like to wish you all success," said Tina Khidasheli, Georgia's Minister of Defense. "Thank you to our American and British partners for your support. Georgia is always open for Noble Partner [exercises]."

Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe, was also present and praised the soldiers for their hard work and explained that their training is part of a bigger picture.

"This year was even better than last year," Hodges said. I anticipate next year will be more complex; inviting other nations to be a part of it [the exercise]. I think that is what gives us the chance for more stability and security in this region."

Hodges joked that, while he did not have any medals to hand out, he did have the "coveted shoulder patch" that represent U.S. Army Europe headquarters. The general personally handed the gift to nearly a dozen soldiers from the U.K. and Georgia.

Exercise Noble Partner 16 is a Georgian and U.S. military training exercise taking place at Vaziani Training Area, Georgia, May 11 to 26, 2016. This exercise is a critical part of Georgia's training for its contribution of a light infantry company to the NATO Response Force (NRF) and enhances Georgian territorial self-defense capability.

--

U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51-country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships built during the more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events, held in more than 40 countries each year, lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.