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Georgia Deployment Program - International Security Assistance Force (GDP-ISAF)

In 2009, the Georgian Minister of Defense agreed that the country would contribute an infantry battalion to serve under the United States supporting the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. In order to prepare the Georgian unit for deployment in March 2010 and follow-on deployments, US Marine Corps Forces, Europe (MARFOREUR) would begin a training program called the Georgia Deployment Program - International Security Assistance Force (GDP-ISAF). Marine Corps trainers would begin to arrive in the Georgia on/or about 15 August 2009 and would commencement with training on/or about 1 September 2009. GDP-ISAF was intended to be a 2-year program consisting of 4 6-month rotations and culminating with a Mission Rehearsal Exercise at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany.

Each rotation consisted of 6 phases. The phases were designed to support training at all levels, from basic first aid to the more advanced, battalion staff-level planning process. At the end of the 6 month train-up, the Georgian infantry battalions would be trained, equipped, and integrated with US forces in order to conduct operations in a counterinsurgency environment. Georgia's offer to serve alongside NATO and ISAF partners was a vital contribution to the mission of bringing peace and security to Afghanistan.

On 16 October 2010, soldiers with the Republic of Georgia's 32nd Light Infantry Battalion were honored during a pre-deployment ceremony in the country's capital Tblisi. The 32nd Light Infantry Battalion had recently completed 6 months of intensive training in Georgia and Germany with their US Marine Corps counterparts, and were slated to replace the 31st Light Infantry Battalion in Helmand Provence, Afghanistan, as part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The 32nd Light Infantry battalion was the second of 4 battalions to undergo training through the GDP-ISAF, a Marine Corps-led initiative designed to prepare the troops to operate alongside US, NATO, and other multinational forces as part of ISAF in Afghanistan. The GDP-ISAF was a 2-year training program, which began August 2009.

During the first week of August 2012, 80 marines and sailors from US Marine Corps Forces Reserve arrived at the Marine Corps Security Cooperation Group (MCSCG) to begin their one month pre-deployment training package in preparation to assume the role of the Rotation 8 and 9 Georgia Training Team (GTT) as part of the Georgia Deployment Program International Security Assistance Force II (GDP-ISAF II). As the Rotation 8 and 9 GTT, these Marines and Sailors would be responsible for training the Georgian Army's 33rd and 42nd Light Infantry Battalions in preparation for counter-insurgency operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan alongside the Marine Air Ground Task Force in Helmand Province. The Marines and Sailors of MCSCG's Training and Instructor Group (TIG), United States European Command Coordination Liaison and Assessment Team (EUCOM CLAT), and Medical Section provided a month-long training package focused on basic advisor skills, foreign security force training management, combat lifesaver, and Georgian culture and language. With many of the MCSCG instructor staff having spent time in Georgia and Afghanistan previously training the Georgian battalions or working with them as combat advisors in Helmand Province, the Marines and Sailors of the GTT had the opportunity to gain valuable lessons learned and insight into the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead for them. The student-instructor interaction and the training effort of the GTT ensured that the GTT deployed to Georgia at the beginning of September 2012 ready to accomplish its mission.

Immediately following the departure of the Rotation 8 and 9 GTT, MCSCG received 36 active duty Marines and Sailors from I and II Marine Expeditionary Force comprising the Rotation 8 and 9 Georgian Liaison Teams (GLTs). These 2 18-man teams would embed with the 33nd and 42nd Georgian Light Infantry Battalions during the final 5 months of the Georgian battalions' training and then deploy with those battalions to Helmand Province, Afghanistan to serve as combat advisors to the Georgians and a liaison between the Georgian leadership and the Marine Regimental Combat Team Staff. To prepare for this challenging and important mission, the marines and sailors of the 2 GLTs received an aggressive 18-day training package focused on advisor skills, foreign weapons instruction, advanced combat casualty care, and Georgian culture and language. The professionalism and work ethic of the 2 GLTs ensured that the instruction provided by the Marines of the TIG and the EUCOM CLAT and the Sailors from the Medical Section would not go for naught. At the end of September 2012 after 18 aggressive training days, the marines and sailors of the GLTs departed MCSCG to make final preparations before deploying to Georgia.




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