US, Europe-Led Drills Underway in Georgia

Georgia’s Vaziani base and Camp Norio are hosting the Noble Partner 2017 drills led by the United States (US) and Europe. The drills officially kicked off on July 30 and are to run until August 12.

Around 800 Georgian and 1600 US troops are taking part in the Noble Partner 2017 drills. The exercises will also include 400 servicemen from Armenia, Germany, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

The US has sent some of its M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks and M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles across the Black Sea for the drills.

The goal of Noble Partner 2017 is to support the training, evaluation and eventual certification of Georgia’s second light infantry company contribution to the NATO Response Force (NRF) for 2017.

Georgia is not a member of NATO, however, it and other NATO partners voluntarily contribute to the NRF.

The exercise affords participating nations an opportunity to train in a multinational environment while enhancing cooperation and interoperability. Leaders at all levels get the chance to exercise staff in mission planning, command and control, movement and maneuver, and the execution of complex joint and combined operations.

The official website of the US Army Europe reports that there are six key training events during the exercise:

• US Naval Forces Europe equipment transfer from Burgas Port, Bulgaria, to Poti Port, Georgia

• Tactical road march to Vaziani training area by US and Slovenian forces

• Combined arms live-fire exercise by US 2nd Cavalry Regiment and Slovenian wheeled infantry carrier vehicles

• Two airborne operations led by the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team

• Joint live-fire with the 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and Georgia's 4th Mechanized Brigade

• Combined arms live-fire exercise built around a defensive scenario.

Noble Partner 2017 is the third iteration of exercise in Georgia and is a bilateral effort focused on enhancing US and Georgian NATO Response Force interoperability in the context of military-to-military relationships.

Georgia's Defense Minister, Levan Izoria called the scale of exercises "unprecedented", claiming they will "make clear the support for Georgia by NATO member states, especially the US."

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, underlined that the drills are extremely significant.

“I am sure the armed forces of the participating states will use experience received at the Noble Partner 2017 for strengthening peace in the world,” he said, adding that such military exercises are important for Georgia and the region to strengthen cooperation and increase the capacity of armed forces, as well as to bring the countries closer to NATO standards.

President Giorgi Margvelashvili also delivered a speech at the ceremony, saying the participants of the drills are true noble partners and share the values of democracy, freedom and human rights.

Thea Morrison

31 July 2017 21:12