KRTSANISI TRAINING AREA, Georgia — Georgia National Guardsmen departed Clay National Guard Center in Marietta, Georgia, to convene upon the country of Georgia for the biennial, multinational exercise known as Agile Spirit. The final group of Soldiers arrived in the country on August 19, 2023.
Originating in 2011, Agile Spirit had just six partners in 2015, and has made the substantial leap to 21 different NATO countries and allied partners participating in the exercise. This year combines the forces of more than 3,500 troops from countries such as Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Türkiye, the United Kingdom and the United States. Approximately 1,200 combat-credible service members come from the United States alone. Opening ceremonies commenced on August 21.
Elements from the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Special Operations Command Europe are also incorporated into the overall training. The brigade-level exercise will feature field training and live-fire demonstrations, as well as various response scenarios to simulate a realistic combat training environment.
United States units that are participating include 173rd Airborne Brigade, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 54th Security Forces Assistance Brigade, 122nd Tactical Support Detachment and U.S. Special Forces Command Europe.
Col. John Avera, commander, 122nd Tactical Support Detachment, 78th Troop Command, Georgia Army National Guard, and co-exercise director for Agile Spirit, discussed the main points that he wanted to drive home after the ceremony concluded.
"What matters most is two things: collaboration and interoperability," Avera said. “Because of these exercises, we’ve learned to work with each other. 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 added that, in order to be stronger together, Soldiers need to “train as we fight.”
Critical training for 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 Türkiye featuring the 173rd Airborne Brigade. The exercise 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 executed throughout multiple locations within the country of Georgia.
“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."
Exercise Agile Spirit 23 is designed to support theater security cooperation and interoperability among NATO Allies and partners to improve joint and multinational readiness capabilities by exercising rapid mobility, and posture combat credible forces across the European theater to the country of Georgia to bolster their defense efforts and deter aggression in the Black Sea region while exercising the enduring U.S. State Partnership Program with the Georgia Army National Guard.
The exercise is scheduled to conclude September 1st.
For more information visit: Agile Spirit