Marines assigned to the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Black Sea Rotational Force observe the U.S. and Georgian national anthems during the opening ceremony of Exercise Agile Spirit on Vaziani Training Area in Georgia, March 12, 2012. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul D. Zellner II.
President Saakashvili was at the Vaziani military base outside Tbilisi on Sunday where Georgian servicemen are undergoing joint military exercises with the U.S. Marines.
Agile Spirit 2012 exercise, which Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov criticized as “provocative”, includes training on live-fire ranges, Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, cordon and search, combat lifesaving skills, convoy operations and tactics in countering improvised explosive devices.
Agile Spirit exercises has become an annual military drill supplementing other trainings such as preparing Georgian soldiers by the U.S. Marine Corps for deployment in Afghanistan.
400 Georgian soldiers are being trained “alongside to the world’s best army,” Saakashvili said after reviewing ongoing exercises.
“Such training, such interaction [with the U.S. Marines] is of crucial importance for us, like the fact that several thousand of our soldiers have undergone through Afghan experience,” Saakashvili said.
“If the army has no combat experience – especially in the region like the one we have, and no matter how difficult our presence in Afghanistan and how heavy sacrifices might be – it [the army] is worth penny. The army should have combat experience,” he said.
“We have a serious progress in terms of training of the armed forces in recent years; we also made a serious progress in terms of strengthening our self-defense infrastructure.”
“We will have a very good territorial defense system, maximally close to those which Switzerland, Sweden have; shortly speaking, we will take into consideration the best European experiences,” Saakashvili said.
“We have learnt from the past experience and we continue development of our defense forces without much noise, bragging and PR,” he added.
The first joint drills from Agile Spirit exercises took place in the Vaziani base last July in which 350 U.S. Marines participated.