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Immediate Response 08

Immediate Response 08 (IR08) was an annual bilateral security-cooperation exercise conducted between the U.S. and NATO and coalition partners. The annual, bilateral security cooperation exercise is conducted between US, NATO and coalition partners, to focus on interoperability training and theater security cooperation. This year, IR08 is being conducted in the Republic of Georgia. The participants are the United States, the Republic of Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Ukraine. The purpose of the exercise is to increase the cooperation and partnership between U.S. and Georgian forces while preparing the Georgian military for operations in Iraq.

Approximately 1,000 personnel from U.S. Army Europe's Southern European Task Force, the 21st Theater Sustainment Command, the state of Georgia Army National Guard, Army Reserve, U.S. Marine Reserve, Sailors and Airmen trained alongside 600 Soldiers from Georgia and other European nations. IR08 builds on lessons learned from previous training and operations by giving commanders and their staffs a practical exercise in organizing, controlling, and supporting coalition stability and security operations. The two/three-week exercise included a command post exercise, situational training lanes and a live-fire exercise.

Officers, senior enlisted and Navy corpsman from 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, had an opportunity to meet and greet their Georgian counterparts July 13, 2008. This began the cultural exchange before the subsequent training for Operation Immediate Response 2008, a joint operation between Georgian Armed Forces and United States Armed Forces.

About 300 Georgia National Guard Soldiers arrived in Tiblisi, Georgia, on 15 July 2008 for Immediate Response 2008, an international exercise to help build relationships with coaliton partners from several Eastern European nations. Soldiers and Marines from the United States, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Ukraine conducted this joint training exercise at Vaziani Military Base and the surrounding area. The Azerbaijani, Armenian and Ukrainian participants replicated a coalition response cell similar to that which the Georgians will experience in Iraq. Highlights of the joint training exercise include marksmanship, patrolling and combat lifesaving exercises. A day is devoted to gathering sergeants together from the various countries to train together on the particular challenges of being non-commissioned officers.

After a surprise visit to the exercise, the Georgian President stated, "we have the best trained and equipped army" in the Caucasus region. For the Georgians, IR08 provided them the knowledge that they were ready for the challenge of their upcoming deployment to Iraq in early 2009.IR08 complements the ongoing U.S. European Command's Georgian Sustainment and Stability Operations Program (GSSOP) which trains Georgian military units scheduled for deployments to support U.N. peacekeepers in Iraq. About 30 Soldiers from U.S. Army Europe and the Georgia Army National Guard were supporting GSSOP by training convoy operations and medical skills.

The Republic of Georgia, with approximately 2,000 Soldiers currently in Iraq, is the third largest force contributor to Operation Iraqi Freedom. IR08 provided a mission rehearsal exercise-like experience for the Georgian 4th Brigade in preparation for their deployment in early 2009. Likewise, IR08 improved the readiness of the Georgian Army National Guard participants who are also preparing for deployment to Afghanistan. Exercises such as IR08 promote understanding and cooperation between the military of the U.S. and our allies and coalition partners and prepare all participants for combat operations.

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