VAZIANI MILITARY BASE, Georgia - Exercise Noble Partner began with an opening ceremony at Vaziani Military Base, July 30.

Exercise Noble Partner is a bilateral, U.S. European Command-directed exercise conducting home station training for the Georgian light infantry company designated for the NATO Response Force. The eight nations participating in Noble Partner are Armenia, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States.

The ceremony promptly started at noon as a member of the Georgian Army reported the mass formation to Giorgi Margvelashvili, President of Georgia.

After the Georgian National Anthem, guest speakers for the opening ceremony were Margvelashvili; Giorgi Kvirkashvili, Prime Minister of Georgia; Levan Izoaria, Minister of Defense of Georgia; and Ian Kelly, U.S. Ambassador to Georgia.

This year's exercise seeks to enhance interoperability and readiness by improving the participating nations' ability to conduct multinational mission command and control and measure the ability to support a multinational operational scenario, Kelly said.

The exercise will support the training of Georgia's second light infantry company as it prepares for its certification for NATO's Response Force. The NRF is a highly ready multinational force made of land, air, maritime and Special Operations Forces components that the Alliance can quickly deploy, wherever needed.

"The United States supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its partners," Kelly said. "Those gathered here seeking to build readiness and interoperability in the face of aggression are critical to that end."

There are more than 2,000 U.S. Troops involved with Noble Partner, nearly a quarter of those Soldiers belong to 2nd Cavalry Regiment. Based in Vilseck, Germany, 2nd Cavalry Regiment has currently traveled approximately 2,200 kilometers in support of military exercises throughout Eastern Europe.

The transportation of vehicles and movement of personnel is validation of the unit's ability to deploy rapidly across the Georgian infrastructure, said Col. Patrick Ellis, commander, 2nd Cavalry Regiment commander, Vilseck, Germany. The movement is also a demonstration of support for Georgia.

"It's demonstration of the United States and really, the Alliance's commitment to our partner, Georgia," Ellis stated. "To come down here and train with them, side by side."

The main focus of Noble Partner will center around defensive operations. One of the exercises forces will occupy semi prepared positions and defend against an attacking force, using live ammunition.

Scenarios like this provide the opportunity to engage multiple systems and arrange multiple assets to achieve an objective. Multinational elements will coordinate together throughout the exercise as mixed forces operate as a single unit. The eight nations will train together throughout Noble Partner, providing field support.

"The importance of doing these exercises shows the operational reach that NATO has when we're training and assisting our partners, the Georgian Army, in getting better at their ability to defend their selves and maintain their sovereignty," said Command Sgt. Major Kevin John Muhlenbeck, Regimental Command Sgt. Major, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Vilseck, Germany.

Noble Partner 2017 is one of the the largest exercises directed by U.S. Army Europe, in Georgia.

The opening ceremony is a great showing of unity of all the countries that have come together for Noble Partner 2017, Muhlenbeck said.