TBILISI, GEORGIA — U.S. Marines training raw Georgian military recruits showed off their expertise Sunday to retired Gen. John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff.

“I like what I see. You are professional and impressive … a good example of the U.S. military,” said Shalikashvili, who was in the former Soviet state to help the country with its upcoming elections.

Shalikashvili met with commanders of the Marines, who are part of Georgia Train and Equip, individual Marines and even troops from other branches who are involved in the operation.

Sunday is normally a day off from training, but this Sunday the Marines in their Battle Dress Uniforms manned a display table of the different weapons they were teaching the Georgians to use.

All of them were Soviet-style weapons, such as rocket-propelled grenades, Kalashnikov assault rifles and Makarov 9 mm pistols.

Shalikashvili asked why the Georgians were being trained on those weapons and not the versions used by the Americans.

Marine Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan Rabert, the gunner for the training task force, said those are the weapons that are easiest and most affordable for the Georgians to maintain.

“Although they’re not as accurate as the M-16, put them in the hands of an unskilled, untrained person and they can be accurate,” Rabert said.

He said the Georgians prefer that to an American weapon, just as a Marine would prefer the M-16 to the AK-47.

“You’re doing an absolutely, absolutely fantastic job,” the former general said.

Shalikashvili was the latest in an ongoing string of former and current military officials, as well as foreign officials and elected U.S. leaders, who have visited the training site in Georgia.

Georgia Training and Equip, known as GTEP, began last year in an effort to educate and provide basic military gear to raw recruits in the Georgian military.

The Marines are now training the fourth battalion-sized unit of Georgian soldiers. Special Forces soldiers trained the first battalion, which graduated last December.

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