KRTSANISI, Georgia - Georgia National Guardsmen departed Clay National Guard Center in August for the country of Georgia to participate in the biennial, multinational exercise known as Agile Spirit.
The final group of Georgia Soldiers arrived in the country Aug. 19 as part of a U.S. force of 1,200 combat-credible service members.
Opening ceremonies for the exercise commenced Aug. 21, with over 3,500 troops from Germany, Romania, Great Britain, Belgium, Azerbaijan, the United States and elsewhere.
Originating in 2011, Agile Spirit had just six partners in 2015 and has made the substantial leap to 21 NATO countries and allied partners participating in the exercise.
The brigade-level exercise will feature field training, live-fire demonstrations, and various response scenarios to simulate a realistic combat training environment.
U.S. units participating include the 173rd Brigade (Airborne), 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, 124th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, and U.S. Special Forces Command Europe. The Georgia National Guard and the country of Georgia are partners under the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program.
Col. John Avera, commander, 122nd Tactical Support Detachment, 78th Troop Command, Georgia Army National Guard, and co-exercise director for Agile Spirit, said the exercise is all about collaboration and interoperability.
“Because of these exercises, we’ve learned to work with each other,” Avera said. “After that, it’s more than just operations; it comes down to logistics and how we incorporate communications. We know that we can maneuver ourselves towards a positive outcome.”
Avera said that to be stronger together, the Soldiers must “train as we fight.”
The exercise includes a brigade-level command post exercise with NATO Multinational Division Southeast, a brigade-level field training exercise, and a combined battalion-level joint forcible entry into Turkey featuring the 173rd Brigade (Airborne). Training also features unit-level training to include battalion live-fire and field training exercises, combined special forces operations, combined medical and protection training, and other live-fire exercises at multiple locations.
“We must operate in the field because when you fight, that’s where you end up,” said Avera. “This exercise goes to great lengths of setting up progressions in order to simulate a combat environment. We want these simulations to be as real as they possibly can be.”
The exercise concludes on Sept. 1.