U.S. troops getting Georgians ready for Iraq deployment
Stars and Stripes August 19, 2006
Another battalion of soldiers from the Republic of Georgia is being prepared by U.S. forces for deployment to Iraq.
The 31st Light Infantry Battalion, mostly 19- and 20-year-olds who have seasoned commanders, is honing its shooting, maneuvering and other skills in Tblisi, Georgia, with a 65-troop task force led by the Joint Multinational Training Command in Grafenwöhr and Hohenfels, Germany.
“They don’t have much experience working as collective unit,” said Lt. Col. Craig Jones, the task force commander. “But they’re very motivated and they learn quickly.
“They’re very confident. A good portion of the [Georgian] leadership have deployed previously to Iraq or Kosovo.”
The training is part of Georgia Sustainment and Stability Operation Program, which began in 2005.
The 31st is scheduled to deploy in November to Baqouba, about 40 miles north of Baghdad, Jones said. He said the Georgian battalion will likely be working out of the three bases in Baqouba, guarding the bases, operating checkpoints and securing bridges.
After the 31st battalion finishes its 12-week course, the 33rd and 32nd battalions will follow, Jones said. Many of the U.S. troops now in Georgia, however, will not rotate, but will remain to train the next two battalions.
First Sgt. Johnny Shaw said about half of his soldiers have experience in Iraq, which helps with working through interpreters, among other benefits.
“They’ve done a good job of being focused,” Shaw said. “The  of us — Army, Navy and Air Force — here now are working toward freeing up an entire battalion of American soldiers in Iraq.”
So far the Georgians have been trained individually and in small units. Platoon-level tactics will be taught starting next week, with company-sized training in the future.
Sgt. Patrick Ireland, a veteran of deployments to Kosovo and Iraq, said the Georgians are picking up the lessons.
“They do it once, and if it’s not quite right, you sit ’em down and explain it, boil it down to the simplest principals,” said Ireland, an infantry tactical team trainer.
“Eventually it just clicks and they get it. Just like with American soldiers.”