Hohenfels, Germany-- Over eight hundred soldiers from the Republic of Georgia are braving the harsh winter conditions at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) in Hohenfels, Germany, to participate in a Mission Rehearsal Exercise (MRE) as they prepare for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan later this year.
Training in constant subfreezing temperatures is no easy task but the Georgians, who are members of the 23rd Light Infantry Battalion, are proving up to the task along with one hundred twenty-four members of the Moldovan Ground Forces.
Another unique aspect of this exercise is the presence of a group of forty two U.S. Marines who are acting as observer/controllers (O/C) along with JMRC's U.S. Army O/C teams.
The Marines are from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and Camp Pendleton, California.
"We have been working with the Georgians hand-in-hand, we have the same standards of how we do things, we're here to observe and help give them a second set of eyes," said 2nd Lt. Kyle Lingfelt, Marine Artilleryman, with the 1st Battalion 10th Marines, Camp Lejeune.
Lingafelt added, "So far we've gone on two patrols and the Georgians are picking up stuff really fast. It's great to see them soaking up the training."
Georgia is one of over fifty nations who are members of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Their mission is to mentor the Afghan National Army (ANA) so they can accept a leadership role for their nation's self defense by the end of 2014.
This is the fifth rotation of Georgian troops to train at JMRC since the beginning of the Georgia Deployment Program-ISAF.
"Working with the Georgians is a great experience. I've seen them get progressively better and better over the rotations as they've been able to combine their combat experience with the training and preparation here at JMRC," said Sgt. First Class Arthur Fonteneaux, an infantry O/C with JMRC's Warhog team.
To prepare for their mission, the Georgians are rehearsing area security, cordon and search operations, deliberate live fire attacks with mortar and sniper integration and cultural awareness sensitivity.
"We've been showing the Marines how we plan and schedule actions. We also use different weapons. We have been using the AK47, but now we use the M4 rifle. It is a much better weapon for accuracy," according to 1Lt. Gela Davidtadze, executive officer for the 23rd Light Infantry Battalion.
Once the MRE is completed, the Marines will follow the Georgians back to Georgia for one last home station exercise prior to the soldiers deploying to Afghanistan as members of ISAF.
This type of joint and combined training exercise with U.S. forces and multinational partners is a routine occurrence at JMRC-- the only forward-stationed combat training center capable of providing real-world coalition experiences to units preparing for the battlefields of today and tomorrow.