VAZIANI TRAINING AREA, Republic of Georgia — Georgian soldiers can be found fighting alongside U.S. Marines on the frontlines of the Afghanistan. But to ensure both parties work well together on the battlefield requires practice conducted on the training grounds.
Marines from Anti-Terrorism Battalion based in Rochester, N.Y., and Black Sea Rotational Force 11, along with soldiers from the Georgian 4th Infantry Brigade practiced Military Operations in an Urban Terrain (MOUT) here during Exercise Agile Spirit 2011.
Agile Spirit is designed to increase interoperability between the forces by exchanging and enhancing each country’s capacity in counterinsurgency (COIN) and peacekeeping (PKO) operations, including: small unit tactics, convoy operations, and counter-Improvised Explosive Device training.
“Because of our partnership in Afghanistan and in order to work with us and support our mission, the [Georgian soldiers] have to be able to move and do what we do or at least understand it,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Bauer, an infantryman with Black Sea Rotational Force 11 and Elk Grove, Calif., native.
In Overseas Contingency Operations, Marines conduct COIN operations in which they encounter enemies hiding in small towns and villages. The urban environment presents challenges to troop safety and mission accomplishment because the enemy has cover and concealment in the buildings in towns and villages. The interoperability training between the Georgians and the Marines focused on overcoming MOUT challenges by sharing proven tactics and techniques among each other and practicing them numerous times.
The Marines and Georgians began their training with lessons from instructors on principles of MOUT and different techniques for room clearing. The instructors drew diagrams and gave demonstrations while translators echoed their messages to the students.
The students showed their interest in the subject with frequent questions. With almost 1,000 troops contributing in Operation Enduring Freedom in the Helmand province, room-clearing techniques, MOUT and COIN training can really help while fighting on the frontlines alongside U.S. Marines.
Following the classes, the Marines and Georgians teamed up to apply the lessons they were taught. Instructors observed as mixed teams of Marines and Georgians entered buildings and cleared rooms. They looked for application of basic techniques and principles. The instructors occasionally stopped the teams to point out any missed steps or mistakes and explained the reasons for applying specific techniques.
“We utilize techniques to make sure we are as safe as possible inside a house,” said Gunnery Sgt. Charles Evers, an infantryman with Black Sea Rotational Force 11 and a Lewiston, Idaho, native.
With each round, the teams were clearing rooms with fewer mistakes and the instructors didn’t have to interrupt and explain as many times. After several times maneuvering through the buildings, the teams were moving through faster and smoothly by communicating and synching their movements.
The smiles on their faces overshadowed the sweat running down their foreheads as they gave each other thumbs ups and traded “kudos” after practicing clearing rooms several times, gaining more comfort.
“They are doing good and understanding proper room clearing tactics and techniques,” said Cpl. Nicholas Ediss, a fire team leader with the BSRF-11, and a Reno, Nev., native.
“It’s a great first time because even with the language barrier, we are able to work together.
The Marines and the Georgian Armed Forces will be training alongside each other for the next two weeks of Agile Spirit. This type of training and interoperability is a stepping stone to the success of the joint missions that are currently being conducted in Afghanistan.
Black Sea Rotational Force 11 is a rotational deployment of Marines to the Black Sea, Balkan and Caucasus regions to work with partner and allied nations to help build their military capacity, promote stability throughout the region, and build enduring partnerships with 13 nations throughout Eastern Europe.