VAZIANI MILITARY BASE, Georgia --- The opening ceremony for the multinational, U.S. Army Europe-led exercise Noble Partner took place here yesterday and was attended by Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili and other senior Georgian and U.S. leaders.
The exercise serves as home station training for the Georgian light infantry company designated for the NATO Response Force and includes eight participating nations: Armenia, Georgia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States.
The ceremony started promptly at noon as a member of the Georgian Army reported the formation of international troops to Margvelashvili.
After the Georgian national anthem, guest speakers for the opening ceremony were Margvelashvili, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirkashvili, Georgian Defense Minister Levan Izoaria and U.S. Ambassador Ian Kelly.
This year's exercise seeks to enhance interoperability and readiness by improving the participating nations' ability to conduct multinational mission command and control and measure the ability to support a multinational operational scenario, Kelly said.
The exercise will support the training of Georgia's second light infantry company as it prepares for its certification for NATO's Response Force. The NRF is a highly ready multinational force made of land, air, maritime and special operations components that the alliance can quickly deploy, wherever needed.
"The United States supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its partners," Kelly said. "Those gathered here seeking to build readiness and interoperability in the face of aggression are critical to that end."
2nd Cavalry Regiment
There are more than 2,000 U.S. troops involved with Noble Partner, and nearly a quarter of those soldiers belong to the Army's 2nd Cavalry Regiment. Based in Vilseck, Germany, the regiment has traveled about 1,400 miles to support various military exercises throughout Eastern Europe.
The transportation of vehicles and movement of personnel is validation of the unit's ability to deploy rapidly across the Georgian infrastructure, said Army Col. Patrick Ellis, commander of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment. The movement is also a demonstration of support for Georgia.
"It's a demonstration of the United States and really, the alliance's commitment to our partner, Georgia," Ellis stated. "To come down here and train with them, side by side."
Noble Partner's scenarios will center around defensive operations. In one scenario, forces will occupy semi-prepared positions and defend against an attacking force using live ammunition.
Scenarios like this provide the opportunity to engage multiple systems and arrange multiple assets to achieve an objective. Multinational elements will coordinate together throughout the exercise as mixed forces operate as a single unit. The eight nations will train together throughout Noble Partner, building on the relationships between all participating militaries.
"These exercises [show] the operational reach that NATO has when we're training and assisting our partners, the Georgian Army, in getting better at their ability to defend themselves and maintain their sovereignty," said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin John Muhlenbeck, command sergeant major of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment.
Noble Partner 2017 is one of the largest exercises directed by U.S. Army Europe in Georgia.