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Opening Ceremony of the Noble Partner Exercise, August 1, 2018. Photo: Georgian MoD

Annual Multinational Exercise Starts in Georgia

Two-week long U.S. and Georgia-led Noble Partner military exercise started on August 1 at the Vaziani Military Airfield, south of Tbilisi, the country’s capital.

Over 3000 troops are taking part in the drills, including 1300 Georgian, 1170 U.S. and 500 military personnel from other participating nations: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, France, Germany, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

The key purpose of the  exercise is to enhance cooperation and interoperability between the participating nations, and will include command, staff and field trainings with live fire exercises and combined mechanized maneuvers.

As part of the military exercise, U.S. and German military equipment were ferried from Romania to Georgia’s Black Sea port of Poti, including Stryker infantry carrier vehicles, M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks and Bradley infantry fighting vehicles.

Strykers convoyed along the East-West highway on July 28 from Senaki Military Base in western Georgia to the Vaziani training area, passing through several cities along the road, including Gori which was particularly affected in the 2008 Russo-Georgian war.

Other military equipment was shipped by rail from Poti to the Vaziani training area. Part of the U.S. army equipment, including Black Hawk and Apache helicopters, which will be taking part in the drills for the first time, was delivered using military aircraft.

Addressing the opening ceremony today, President Giorgi Margvelashvili thanked the servicemen for taking part in the exercise and said that their participation was “a guarantee of the stability and peace that our governments are serving.”

Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, who also spoke at the opening ceremony, stressed the military exercise was not aimed against any country: “Noble Partner exercise serves the purpose of strengthening security, stability and peace in the entire region.”

He also said the drills would contribute to the Georgian armed forces’ “better professionalism, better resolve, better combat readiness and better compatibility to strategic and international partners,” and that “it would be a guarantee for more peace, security, stability and international engagement for the country.”

Describing the drills as “one of the largest multinational exercises”  in the Black Sea region, Defense Minister Levan Izoria said the exercise “along with deepening cooperation and increasing capacity of the armed forces,” would bring the country closer to NATO standards.

“Georgia has proven that it is a reliable and steadfast partner; we have said repeatedly that NATO integration is a top priority of our foreign and security policy,” Izoria stressed.

Chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy, Elizabeth Rood, spoke at the opening ceremony as well, saying this year’s iteration “builds on the success of previous years in demonstration of our shared resolve to improve the security and stability of the Black Sea region and deter aggression.”

The is the fourth time Georgia is hosting the Noble Partner exercise. In 2017, the exercise participants were addressed by Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States, who visited the country as part of his diplomatic tour in Eastern Europe.

This post is also available in: Georgian Russian

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