Marine-led task force trains Republic of Georgia Soldiers

KRTSANISI, Republic of Georgia — A U.S. Marine-led task force marked the completion of training for two Georgian logistics battalions in a ceremony here March 24.

"I know personally many of the U.S. task force members feel this was the most rewarding thing they have done since they joined the U.S. military," said Marine Lt. Col. William McGowan, commander of the Georgia Sustainment and Stability Operations Program, or GSSOP, task force. "They believe that helping Georgia, a country that not long ago was a stranger to the United States, is the right thing to do."

U.S. European Command's GSSOP assists and enhances Georgia's military capability to sustain its contribution to peacekeeping efforts in Iraq. In this round, the Marines trained logistics Soldiers with the Republic of Georgia's 1st and 2nd Brigades. "Georgia is also helping the U.S. in many, many ways with the Global War on Terrorism. Both the United Sates and Georgia view one another as true friends today and for the future," McGowan stated.

The Georgian Soldiers will go on to sustain and support operations under UN Security Council Resolution 1546 to protect UN peacekeeping forces in Iraq. The Georgian Soldiers started their training in January with squad-level tactics and battalion staff-level operations.

The squad-level training included patrolling, weapons handling, convoy operations, military operations in urban terrain and first aid, Marine Staff Sgt. Roy Brady explained.

The staff training will help the Georgian staff handle command and control of their battalion, said Marine Capt. Jason Richter, the training program's operations officer. One of the challenges trainers faced during GSSOP was the language barrier, Brady mentioned. Few people speak Georgian outside the Caucus region. The training had to be conducted entirely through a team of interpreters, which presented difficulties when communicating complicated military terms and concepts.

A primary effect of the GSSOP is that the new and improved Georgian Army, in conjunction with U.S.-trained Georgian law enforcement, are more capable of securing Georgia's boarders, keeping the Caucus region off the ever-shrinking list of potential safe havens for terrorists.

With relatively little funding and few U.S. troops acting only in a training capacity, the U.S. is helping its Georgian ally in the Global War on Terror to become a strong and stable nation. Georgia is a key land route between Europe and the Middle East. A strong Georgia means one less road for terrorists to travel.

In his closing remarks to the Georgian Soldiers, McGowan said, "On behalf of the entire Task Force, I wish you Godspeed, fair winds and following seas. Semper Fidelis."

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