Multinational forces close "Partnership for Peace" exercise

On Sept. 8, participants from nine nations entered into an exercise in the Country of Georgia as strangers. Sept. 20, they left as friends and "partners in peace."

Participants closed RESCUER/MEDCEUR 03, a regional multinational exercise held in the spirit of "Partnership for Peace" during a closing ceremony at Vaziani Military Base, Georgia, Sept. 20. The United States sponsored the exercise that the Georgians hosted.

The exercise included about 180 U.S. servicemembers from U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Headquarters U.S. Naval Forces Europe, U.S. Special Operations Command, the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army Reserves. The exercise also included participants from Georgia, Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Moldova, Turkey and the Ukraine.

The exercise included two phases, RESCUER and MEDCEUR, which had never been conducted together before.

RESCUER was a disaster response, computer-assisted exercise conducted by U.S. Navy personnel at two locations - Vaziani MB and the Defense University in Sofia, Bulgaria - via a regional engagement network in Tbilisi, Georgia. An exercise U.S. joint task force based at Vaziani MB coordinated with other participating nations.

One of the key successes for RESCUER was testing software to break the language barrier.

"For the first time, we took the first step with translation software that eliminated the language barrier that was once a hindrance to multinational operations," said Navy Capt. John K. Stuart, HQ USNAVEUR. "As a result of humanitarian and disaster relief training with our partner nations, we are better prepared to meet the uncertainty of the future."

MEDCEUR was a live exercise that provided training and operational experience to U.S. medical crisis response and surgical teams, and they provided hands-on training for Georgian medical students. Teams from the 86th Medical Group, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, trained the medical students in self-aid and buddy care, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and moulage. Additionally, they conducted a disaster medicine symposium at Tbilisi State Medical University.

Earlier on Sept. 20, more than 100 medical students graduated in a ceremony at the university. The 86th MDG trainers presented the students certificates signifying they completed the basic life-saving training and the symposium. Soldiers from the U.S. Army Reserves 353rd Civil Affairs Command also presented certificates to military and Georgian civilian officials who completed a civil-military affairs emergency response course.

Although some U.S. forces focused on training and interoperability, deployed medical staff focused on humanitarian assistance by giving Georgians in Sartichala and Ponichala their eyesight back with eyeglasses or cataract surgery. Civil engineers from the 100th Civil Engineer Squadron, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, also renovated the Sartichala clinic and another in Akhasopeli at a cost of $130,000.

But many here agreed that one exercise success stood above all others: "It is the contact, understanding, respect, and love which blossoms between the seams of such an exercise," said Col. (Dr.) Todd Hess, the deployed 86th Expeditionary Medical Squadron commander. "It is this nebulous exercise objective, that if it would just take hold throughout the world, may in fact make many of our standard exercise objectives superfluous."

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