VAZIANI TRAINING BASE, Georgia - Georgia National Guardsmen connect with Brig. Gen. Thomas Blackstock Jr., commander, 78th Troop Command, Georgia National Guard, at Vaziani Training Base, Georgia, Aug. 2, 2017.
Soldiers of the 810th Engineer Company (SAPPER), 878th Engineer Battalion, 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Georgia Army National Guard, based in Swainsboro, Georgia, are currently in the country Georgia to participate in Exercise Noble Partner.
Exercise Noble Partner is a multinational, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise conducting home station training for the Georgian light infantry company designated for the NATO Response Force.
An engineer is basically an infantryman with special skills to do a myriad of tasks like demolitions, constructing obstacles or building forward operating bases, said Capt. Christopher Butler, commander, 810th Engineer Company. As a wheeled SAPPER engineer company, those tasks are within the capabilities of the unit.
Beyond normal ammunition concerns, the unit also is accountable for different types of charges, breaching obstacles and improvisation with charges.
The move to the country of Georgia served several purposes. It reinforces the commitment as state partners, provides realistic training and tests the unit's flexibility.
"We have the opportunity to train on the mobilization of our company," Blackstock commented. "To pack everything up, plan and execute the movement to the country of Georgia and then sustain ourselves while we're here."
The Georgia National Guard regularly sends several teams a year to train with members of the Georgian Armed Forces, he said.
Since the state and the country are partners under the state partnership program, the two continue to strengthen ties through such actions. Training provides the opportunity to exchange military skills and increase proficiency.
"It's a training opportunity that can't be replicated with this detail and complexity at home station," Blackstock remarked. "So it's a great opportunity for us, not only to practice our skills but to share our SAPPER skills with other units."
While in the country of Georgia, Butler expects his unit to receive more operational demolition training.
The unit would benefit from demolitions directed towards a purpose during a mission or event, he said.
During his visit with the SAPPER company, Blackstock ensured he met and shook the hand of every Soldier at the range.
Conversation flowed easily as he inquired about the Soldiers' lives in Georgia. He asked about their hometown and education. In one conversation, Blackstock was engrossed with sports.
At formation, Butler called two Soldiers forward to receive a coin from the commander of Georgia's National Guard.
Cpl. Andrew Fregine, team leader, 2nd platoon, received the first coin. Butler chose him for his solid performance leading up to Noble Partner. As one of two Soldiers in the advance party, Fregine integrated into the battalion. He wrote reports and maintained constant communications with the main body. He saw to the needs of the unit prior to arrival.
Sgt. Caleb Taylor, team leader, 3rd platoon, received the second coin. His attitude and readiness to perform any task determined Butler's choice. He displays the leadership expected of a non-commissioned officer.
Recognition of effort displays good leadership.
"It's just that positive affirmation that we are watching, we do appreciate everything that you're doing," Butler said. "That's how I feel it definitely benefits the Soldier, it gives us all something to look forward to."
In addition to their combat engineering tasks, the 810th Engineer Company also performs civil support missions for the Georgia National Guard. The 810th Engineer SAPPER is a search and extraction element in the state of Georgia, for the Homeland Response Force.