VAZIANI, Republic of Georgia –Georgian Special Operations Forces took part in Exercise Noble Partner here from July 30 to August 12, 2017, developing interoperability with conventional forces from not only their own military but that of the U.S. and participating nations.
Noble Partner is an annual U.S. Army Europe-led exercise designed to support Georgia’s integration into the NATO Response Force and allows multinational partners to work together in a realistic and challenging training event. Approximately 2800 troops from Georgia, Armenia, Germany, Slovenia, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the U.S. participated in the exercise in multiple locations across Georgia.
“In many ways, the exercise was a new way of operating for GSOF,” said a U.S. Special Forces advisor to GSOF.
U.S. Special Operations Command Europe played an advisory role with GSOF during the exercise in order to mentor the Georgian SOF on building interoperability with U.S, Georgian and other multinational conventional forces.
“SOCEUR’s contribution was very helpful,” said a GSOF officer involved in the planning of the exercise. “They helped us understand the capabilities and procedures that allowed us to integrate with multinational forces. They also served as a link to coordinate our activities.”
In addition to SOCEUR, the GSOF also worked closely with the Georgia National Guard. The two have participated in the State Partnership Program, which pairs U.S. states with 22 European nations and 73 worldwide, since 1994.
“Working with the GSOF was awesome,” said U.S. Army Capt. Christopher Pulliam, the commander of the Georgia Army National Guard’s Company H (Long-Range Surveillance), 121st Infantry Regiment (Airborne). “Our mission set requires that we work in small teams that gather specific intel in the area of operations. The GSOF understand this and can use our intel to create a better understanding of the situation on the ground and react accordingly.”
Company H worked alongside GSOF conducting combined airborne operations and during the field exercise was assigned under their command, allowing GSOF to complete objectives through their coordinated efforts. With the Georgia Army National Guard conducting reconnaissance, GSOF was able to execute a raid on an enemy position.
Georgian SOF also worked with U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard as well during Noble Partner.
“This is the first time the Georgians have jumped from a C-130,” said Lt. Col. Donald Pallone, the vice air commander of the 165th Airlift Wing, Georgia Air National Guard. “They are learning from us and we are learning from them. This helps us build our interoperability and furthers the Georgia National Guard’s [state] partnership with the Georgians.”
GSOF also trained on calling for indirect fire working with the U.S. Air Force’s 2nd Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron. This training also provided them the ability to learn the same procedures as their conventional forces and U.S. forces and share these procedures throughout GSOF.
“The Georgian military was very motivated and eager to learn how to incorporate indirect fires control to enhance their combat capabilities,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Justin Tamayo, assigned to the 2nd Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron as a joint terminal attack controller. “We were able to train both the GSOF and conventional parties simultaneously and from the classes we taught we are confident that interoperability was strengthened amongst their military as well as with U.S. forces and partner nations.”
GSOF also trained on their military assistance mission by training Georgian and Ukrainian conventional forces on the tactics and procedures of clearing rooms and passing through friendly defensive lines.
“To be able to accomplish its military assistance mission, GSOF must be able to teach classes and train other soldiers,” said the U.S. Special Forces advisor to GSOF. “Teaching and training is a skill that must be practiced. Noble Partner was a great opportunity for GSOF to build its military assistance skills while also improving the combat skills of Georgian and Ukrainian infantry.”
The ability to plan the execution of training that involves both internal and multinational military forces is in itself a skill that has to be trained in order to enhance an organization’s ability. Noble Partner provided the chance for GSOF staff to build upon their capability to conduct such training.
“This was a new experience for us,” said a GSOF officer involved in the planning of the exercise. “It allowed us to develop how we will work with conventional and multinational forces in the future.”
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Mark Schwartz, the commander of SOCEUR, visited with GSOF leadership and observed soldiers participating in the exercise. During his visit, GSOF briefed MG Schwartz on upcoming exercise events and how GSOF plans to continue developing their interoperability with conventional forces.
“In the future, if GSOF and multinational forces have to work together, training together will allow us to understand how to work fluently with each other,” said a team leader from the GSOF company conducting the training. “It will help us integrate our tactics with theirs and direct their efforts with ours.”