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6th Anglico Marines and Georgian Soldiers Prepare for Deployment in Support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel
U.S. Marines with 6th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, Force Headquarters Group, Marine Forces Reserve, and soldiers with the 31st Georgian Light Infantry Battalion, conducted a Mission Rehearsal Exercise as part of the Georgia Deployment Program- Resolute Support Mission aboard the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, Hohenfels, Germany, Aug. 16-22, 2017.
The GDP-RSM is a seven-month training program that prepares the 31st Georgian Light Infantry Battalion to Deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. The Mission Rehearsal Exercise is the culminating event to build readiness and certify the 31st Georgian Light Infantry Battalion for that deployment. The Georgian battalion deploys this fall and will be accompanied by many of the same Marines involved in their training, including 6th ANGLICO.
The Georgia Liaison Team and Georgia Training Team advised and assisted the Georgian battalion throughout their training. The Marine Corps Security Cooperation Group was the coordinating agency between the Georgia Liaison Team and the Georgia Training Team, and provided logistics, communication and operational support throughout the Mission Rehearsal Exercise. The GLT was composed of core advisors, enablers, and the 6th ANGLICO Supporting Arms Liaison Team. The role of the 6th ANGLICO SALT was to serve as the battalion’s fire support coordination center and to plan, coordinate, and execute surface to surface fires, air to surface fires, and assault support in support of the battalion’s mission. These Marines will also deploy to Afghanistan with the 31st Georgian Light Infantry Battalion in October, 2017.
“The purpose of this exercise is that it’s the final evaluation of nearly seven months of training with the Georgians,” said Capt. Ryan McGrail, the operations officer for GLT Rotation Six. “We can compare all of this to a combat readiness evaluation. We’re in our final seven days of training and after this we’re going to Afghanistan to conduct the mission that was given to us. So, we’re here being evaluated one last time to make sure we can identify any kinds of weaknesses and improve on that, as well as maintain our strengths and improve on them as well.”
Other training events conducted included close air support coordination training in which the 6th ANGLICO SALT and Georgian soldiers rehearsed coordination of air evacuations and targeting enemy combatants.
Prior to arriving in Hohenfels, Germany, the GLT and GTT participated in a host of exercises in the Republic of Georgia. Here, the Marines built a cohesive bond with the Georgian Armed Forces through mentorship and hard work, breaking a cultural barrier between two vastly different countries.
“The entirety of these exercises is to prepare our light infantry battalion for future operations in Afghanistan,” said Georgian Maj. Mikheil Mazmishvili, the civil military operations officer for the 31st Georgia Light Infantry Battalion. “We’ve been doing squad and platoon training, troop leading procedures and a host of other exercises. With this training, we hope to better understand the environment and our coalition forces; as well as the Marine Corps.”
The GDP-RSM originally launched in 2009 under the name Georgia Deployment Program—International Security Assistance Force. Including time spent in Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, Marines typically spend 12-16 months attached to the Georgian soldiers. Originally planned as a two year engagement, the success of past missions has extended the pairing into 2017.
This year alone, Marine Forces Reserve has already mobilized 813 Reserve Marines and provided 4,500 Marines for a multitude of theater-specific exercises and security cooperation events. These operations and exercises greatly increase the Reserve component’s interoperability with the active component, joint forces and America’s allies.
“This has been an overall rewarding experience,” said McGrail. “Something that the Marine Corps is getting into a lot is the advise and assist missions. And they definitely chose the right Marines and sailors to attack this mission. We still have a seven-month deployment ahead of us, we’re all really looking forward to it and we’ll see what comes next.”