TBILISI, Georgia — U.S. Soldiers and Georgian soldiers gathered for a visit from U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at Tblisi International Airport, Georgia, Aug. 1, 2017.
Pence's visit was in support of the U.S. presence in Georgia during Exercise Noble Partner. Exercise Noble Partner is a multinational, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise conducting home station training for the Georgian light infantry company designated for the NATO Response Force.
Multiple units from the U.S. Armed Forces are participating in the exercise. Among them are the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, elements from 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, and state of Georgia Army and Air National Guard.
Units from the 15th Engineer Battalion, the 18th Military Police Brigade and 21st Theater Sustainment Command will also be in the exercise.
Giorgi Margvelashvili, President of Georgia, opened the visit.
Freedom is the highest value for Georgians and for Americans, he said. The dedication for liberty unifies both nations, by sharing common values and goals.
"Mr. Vice President, you are with a nation that has gone through numerous wars for freedom and dignity," Margvelashvili said. "With a strong inner faith for victory, throughout the centuries, we never surrendered this faith and have overcome the strongest empires."
Succeeding in restoring its independence, Georgia continues to build a democratic nation. Yet conflict remains. Aggressive behavior from neighboring countries threatens Georgia's independence.
While calling for justice, the president proclaimed negotiations and cautious movement had proven victorious in the past.
"We need a strong leadership, firm policy and unified messages of un-acceptance to avoid the era of long instability," he said. "Otherwise, the Trans-Atlantic security, as well as the idea of Europe, whole, free and at peace, will not be achieved."
Strength is in unity, Margvelashvili declared, referring to Georgia's coat of arms.
Pence, taking the stage, thanked the service members from both countries participating in Noble Partner.
"You are the best of us, heroes all," he remarked. "You are here, the Americans among you so far away from home because the United States and Georgia are bound together by the abiding oath of friendship and by our shared commitment to the cause of freedom."
America stands with Georgia, Pence said.
The U.S. supports Georgia's potential membership into NATO. Georgia's progress since reclaiming its freedom indicates an optimistic future.
Georgia's military support with the U.S. in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan is a respectable record. In Iraq, Georgia provided the most troops, on a per capita basis, than any other nation.
The sacrifices of Georgian soldiers deserve recognition and remembrance, Pence commented.
"Today, we recommit ourselves to the cause of security, prosperity and liberty for the people of Georgia," Pence said. "We renew our pledge to stand together in unity, as partners and as friends. To one day, stand together as Allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization."
Confident in the resilient spirit of the Georgian people and the bravery of the Georgian soldiers, Pence held faith that the strength of Georgia would continue.
Concluding his speech, Pence walked through the crowd, greeting U.S. Soldiers and Georgian soldiers.
Pence proved to be an approachable vice president as he shook hands and clapped Soldiers on the shoulders. He gifted Soldiers with coins and posed for photos with personal cameras.
Displaying forethought and great regard, Lt. Col. Adam J. Lackey, commander, 1st Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, presented Vice President Mike Pence with a Stetson, the traditional headgear worn by the Cavalry.