TBILISI, Georgia, June 17, 2013 – Exercise Shared Horizons 2013 officially opened in the cavernous briefing room of the Georgian Ministry of Defense on a hot summer day here in the capitol city of the country of Georgia. Military personnel representing The U.S. Army and Georgia National Guard joined more than fifty civil and military representatives of the Country of Georgia to usher in the bilateral exercise. Colonel Archil Omiadze, Georgian Co-Director for Shared Horizons welcomed the U.S. personnel.
“This is the third year of Shared Horizons,” said Col. Omiadze “This training tests the national response plan along the international response plan framework.”
Colonel Anthony Abbott, U.S. Exercise Co-Director provided background on the exercise.
“Shared Horizons is a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs directed, European Command sponsored, U.S. Army Europe facilitated and State Partner assisted emergency response exercise,” said Abbott. “Shared Horizons 2013 is the third and final iteration of this annual bilateral exercise between the U.S. and country of Georgia.”
“You have proven that your national response plan is a model for your region,” said Command Sgt. Major Lance Rygmyr of the Georgia National Guard. “Now we will test items we have not yet tested such as preservation of cultural resources in times of emergency.”
Representatives of Georgian Ministries of Internal Affairs, Defense, and Culture addressed the combined Georgian/American audience describing how the actions of their offices would integrate in times of crisis. A cultural brief detailed the prolific history of Georgia’s art and architecture, treasures that would require preservation in the event of a natural disaster.
Georgia Guardsmen, USAREUR personnel and a five-member Civil Affairs Team out of Fort Bliss will work alongside 100 Georgian government officials at the Georgian National Guard Training Center and field operations center. The civil affairs team of the 80th Civil Affairs Battalion will work beside Georgian counterparts in a simulated damage assessment. According to team leader Capt. Jonathan Mleynek, the team has a combined 45 year’s operational experience and more than 20 years of deployment experience assisting nations in initial disaster assessment.
“Our team provides rapid deployment and assessment capability for disaster relief,” said 1st. Sgt. Robert Whisenant of Los Angeles. “Our job is to confirm the initial estimate of damage and coordinate for additional resources as needed. We bridge the gap between the incident and the arrival of additional resources.”
Georgia Guardsmen and USAREUR representatives will facilitate a table-top exercise simulating the first 72-hours of a disaster response and command post exercise that will carry the exercise forward six weeks after the initial incident. Both exercises are centered around a simulated earthquake on the western coast of Georgia that causes massive disruption to shipping facilities, infrastructure, and transportation networks.
The Georgia Guardsmen assisting in the exercise are doing so under the Guard’s State Partnership Program with the Country of Georgia. According to SPP Director, Georgia Air National Guard Lt. Col. David Johnson, the two Georgias have maintained a partnership program since 1995.
The training assesses the interagency capability to respond to natural or manmade disasters in the country of Georgia.
“We [the state of Georgia] are proud of our partnership with the Country of Georgia,” said Johnson. “We look forward to continuing our partnership and increasing Georgia’s ability to respond to a natural or manmade disaster.”