News: Off the map: 26th MEU arrives in Georgia
Story by Cpl. Michael Lockett
VAZIANI AIR BASE, REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA – Marines and sailors of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived in the Republic of Georgia March 15, 2013, to take part in Agile Spirit, a cooperative exercise with the Georgian military in conjunction with the Black Sea Rotational Force 13.
The 26th MEU is focused on training the Georgian military in the specifics of engineering operations, including the construction of forward operating bases, entry control points, improvised explosive device detection and disposal, as well as engineer survivability and counter-mobility operations.
“We’re working hand in hand with our Georgian counterparts,” said Capt. Orlando Chaparro, 26th MEU command element exercise officer in charge for Agile Spirit from Cooper City, Fla. “Georgia has been a long time coalition partner in the war on terror.” Georgia has been deploying units to Afghanistan since 2009, working closely with the Marine Corps during its deployments, said Chaparro.
“We’re here because the Georgians are doing deployments out to Afghanistan where they’re working with Marines,” said Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Tracy, 26th MEU motor transportation chief from Burnsville, Minn. Our purpose here is to teach them how the Marine Corps conducts its business, so that the two militaries will be able to work ever more efficiently together in the future.
The Marines and sailors of the MEU will be working to get the Georgians current on the engineering side of ground operations, helping them develop the skill set so that they can develop their own training plans. From there, they’ll be in a position to help train the rest of their armed forces in the specifics of forward operating base construction and IED operations, as well as a variety of other areas, to make them more able to operate efficiently as a coalition partner in Afghanistan. “They’re coming back with a lot of ability and competency,” said Chaparro. “We’re not starting from square one, we’re building on these competencies.”
”It’s an excellent opportunity to further strengthen relations with a valued coalition partner in hopes of continuing further efforts in further exercises,” said Chaparro.