HOHENFELS, Germany — The Republic of Georgia Army's 31st Light Infantry Battalion arrived at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC) here to begin a two-week training evolution that will serve as a final mission evaluation for their upcoming deployment in support of International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
The final mission rehearsal exercise (MRE) comes as a sort of final examination for the Georgian battalion, the first of four battalions to undergo training through the Georgia Deployment Program (GDP), a Marine Corps-led initiative to prepare the Georgians for their Afghanistan deployment.
According to Marine Lt. Col. Dan Thoele, Marine Corps Training and Advisory Group (MCTAG) deputy director and Chicago native, the MRE will provide the final evaluation that the Marine Expeditionary Brigade Afghanistan (MEB-A) commander will use to determine the mission set for the Georgians when they arrive in theater.
"All of the training that [the 31st Battalion] has received over the past four months during the GDP will be evaluated throughout the MRE," Thoele said. "As they are presented various scenarios and events, they will be evaluated by Marine and Army observer controllers whose findings will be incorporated into the final assessment."
During the first half of the MRE, the Georgians will conduct a wide variety of operations that reflect the mission sets common to ISAF forces in Afghanistan such as area security, cordon and search operations, deliberate live-fire attacks with mortar and sniper integration, command post exercises, and cultural awareness engagements, according to Thoele.
Given the unique facilities of the JMRC, Thoele said the MRE will create a realistic training environment for the Georgians that incorporates the concept of conducting operations based from forward operating bases (FOBs) and combat outposts (COPs).
The addition of role-playing civilians on the battlefield (COBs) and a dedicated opposition force (OpFor) will also serve to maximize the traininggs impact.
"We have tried to make this training as realistic as possible,"Thoele said. "The facilities and data collection capabilities here at the JMRC allow for a very thorough evaluation."
"Our soldiers are very motivated and hungry for this training," said Georgian Army Capt. Shalva Dzindzibadze, chief of staff for the 31st Battalion. "They want to improve their skills and abilities. It's a great opportunity for our battalion and they take pride that they are the first to go through the training and show what Georgia has to offer."
Following the initial week of battle drills, live fire, situational and specialty training, the 31st Battalion will begin the final exercise (FINEX) which will test all the skills they have honed during the previous four months of the GDP, according to Thoele.
In addition to the offensive and defensive portions of combat-related scenarios, the FINEX will also focus heavily on cultural awareness scenarios like key leader engagements and town/provincial council meetings, according to Thoele.
In addition to U.S Marine and Army observer/controllers, representatives from numerous coalition countries are slated to participate in the training at the JMRC in various roles including Spain, Latvia, Poland, France, Slovenia, Slovakia and Greece.