Over 2,000 personnel from a range of armed forces, including those of the UK, US, host nation Georgia, Sweden, Japan, and others took part in a massive set of military drills that ended in September.
Exercise Noble Partner, hosted by the Georgian Defence Forces, recently saw its sixth iteration and saw the UK contribute in excess of 100 soldiers, mainly from 82 Squadron, 13 Air Assault Support Regiment Royal Logistic Corps.
Normally based at Merville Barracks in Colchester, the contingent represented the second largest group of visiting military personnel behind that of our American allies.
I extend my gratitude to NATO Major General Matiashvili
Major General Matiashvili, Chief of the Georgian Defence Forces, said: “The dynamics of this exercise strengthens our defence for the Black Sea catchment. I extend my gratitude to NATO and its partners for this important support to improve Georgia’s position in defence.”
Exercise Noble Partner 22 was the latest in a chain of practices that have seen British troops operating alongside many countries on NATO’s eastern flank, with Georgia being the latest and furthest east.
Drills like this are not only crucial to maintain the British Army’s ability to rapidly deploy overseas, but also to show our adversaries we are capable of working in challenging climatic and topographical conditions as part of an integrated NATO fighting force.
As is customary with multinational exercises, Noble Partner was officially launched at a ceremonial parade attended by Major General Matiashvili and Lela Chikovani, Georgia’s First Deputy Defence Minister.
I’ve never had such a great opportunity WO2 Viant
Squadron Sergeant Major
At the tactical level, 82 Squadron, under the command of Major Matthews, arrived at the Vaziani military complex to provide a training package for a multinational company of Bulgarian, Greek, Romanian, Moldovan, and Georgian troops.
For the duration of the exercise the logisticians filled a light infantry role – the old saying of ‘soldier first’ ringing very much true in this instance.
Warrant Officer Class Two Viant, 82 Squadron Sergeant Major, said: “In my 17 years of being in the Army, I’ve never had such a great opportunity as deploying in this role – it’ll certainly test myself and the troops.”
During the build-up to the final training manoeuvres, the British contingent were involved in a three-day training schedule delivering a comprehensive urban operations package.
It fits nicely into the ‘soldier first’ ethos Maj Matthews
This is one of the most arduous means of fighting a soldier can be ordered to conduct; it calls for super-charged reflexes and quick decision making to get you through safely.
Demonstrating the collaborative nature of this partnering exercise, at one point the 119th Sapper Engineer Company of the West Virginia National Guard used explosive charges to blow an entry point into a heavily defended building, then a platoon combining British soldiers personnel with troops from Georgia’s 12th Infantry Battalion stormed in to clear it.
Major Matthews said: “We are a logistic squadron by trade and this isn’t our day job, but it fits nicely into the ‘soldier first’ ethos that the Army has embraced. To be able to integrate at a soldier level with so many other partner nations has been extremely beneficial.”