VAZIANI TRAINING AREA, Georgia --- Soldiers from various parts of the world have begun exercise Agile Spirit 19 with their host nation of Georgia, on July 28, 2019. Co-led by Georgian Defence Forces (GDF) and U.S. Army Europe, this joint and multinational exercise supports 14 ally and partner nations consisting of approximately 3,300 military personnel.
Military personnel have been preparing continuously for this event. For the last five days, Soldiers have come together on different training sites scattered across the country of Georgia, including Orpholo Training Area, Senaki Air Base, and Vaziani Training Area.
"We have definitely done a lot of training in the months leading up to this event," said Spc. MaryBeth Mentzer, a military police officer and team leader for 178th Military Police Company from Monroe, Georgia. "We've done a lot of time in the field, going to ranges and working on our gunnery tables in preparation for the culminating event. My platoon has gone through QRF [Quick Reactionary Forces] training, policing training and security training to refresh ourselves for when we are going over it with the Georgians."
These Soldiers are kicking off the exercises part of AgS19. Their trainings have begun with MP soldiers from GDF and the Georgian National Guard sharing insight into their way of conducting military operations through bilateral classes.
These classes, Mentzer explains, will go into detail about the tactics of the GDF and the tactics of the Georgian National Guard. They will discuss how these tactics differ or how they may be alike. The intent is for each country to learn something new and refine current MP unit operations. Mentzer believes this comparison promises a glimpse into how other nations are conducting MP duties.
Sgt. Ryan Krohn, an MP officer with the 178th MP Company, and former active duty Marine Corps MP officer, provides insight into the importance of this training as he has experience doing similar training as a Marine.
An active duty Marine for six years, Krohn worked on interoperable training between fellow nations across Australia, East Timor, New Zealand, New Caledonia, and Tonga. He trained other militaries and helped conduct multinational exercises throughout the Pacific region, and now he is conducting similar training here.
"Whenever the time comes where the Georgia National Guard works with the GDF, whether that be in Afghanistan, Iraq or any other battlefield we might find ourselves in, we will be able to communicate with them properly and they will know how we operate, and we will know how they operate," Krohn said. "This is so we can better understand each other and be a better fighting force."
A biennial exercise, AgS19 provides an opportunity for multinational and joint forces to synchronize and prepare in case of regional security threats and worldwide contingency operations.
"The value of this training can never be understated," Krohn said. "What our nations get from each other is a huge learning experience that expands from warrior to warrior, Soldier to Soldier, all the way across branches and to different militaries. Not only do we learn a healthy respect for each other, we learn to respect each other's cultures, and we learn to respect each other's military service."
This is the largest-occurring exercise, with the most manpower from ally and partner countries, in Georgia this year. GDF and U.S. Army Europe have provided the bulk of the troops in this exercise, each consisting of approximately 1,500 forces. The rest of the forces for AsG19 from Belgium, Bulgaria, Poland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and more have brought roughly 350 military personnel altogether.
"We are building bonds between the country of Georgia and the United States, specifically [right now] between the Georgia National Guard MP force with the Georgian MP force," Krohn said.
The Georgian National Guard and the GDF have a special tie to one another this year as it is the 25th anniversary of their U.S. European Command State Partnership Program. Georgia National Guard was the third U.S. state guard to be attached to the program in 1994. Today in Georgia, the Georgian National Guard consist of roughly 150 military personnel including the 170th Military Police Battalion Headquarters, 178th Military Police Company and the 165th Airlift Wing, Georgia Air National Guard.
"It's amazing this [partnership] has been going on for so long," Mentzer said. "It's great to hear we have a relationship with another country like this and great they have put this event together to coincide with the anniversary. It makes everything we are doing all very real."