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Britain’s got talent

Troops help validate Georgian personnel for Nato role

Located at a symbolic crossroads where Europe meets Asia, the country of Georgia could be seen as the ideal location for a multinational exercise.

And with temperatures in the Vaziani ranges soaring to 38 degrees Celsius, it proved to be a familiar training environment for members of 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment who deployed there recently to showcase their soldiering excellence.

The host nation is keen to join Nato, so Exercise Noble Partner was also a good opportunity for the 160-odd Brits to consider how their skills may one day be required as part of a bigger joint force.

“Georgia is a hot and dry environment that’s a test of physical resilience, while working as part of a multinational exercise on this scale really broadens soldiers’ military and cultural horizons,” said Maj Mark Bush, officer commanding C (Bruneval) Company.

The UK was one of eight countries and 2,800 personnel to take part in the two-week package, which was intended to validate a Georgian infantry company to serve with the Nato Response Force.

And with a joint training session on stabilisation operations testing everything from stop-and-search tactics to vehicle checkpoint procedures, the size of the exercise certainly didn’t come at the expense of detail.

Cpl Caz Laycock (Para) was one of those responsible for explaining the British way of doing things to the foreign contingent.

“This is not about us teaching them; it’s about finding middle ground between us,” he explained.

“As paratroopers we’re keen to get across to the Georgians the professionalism that we operate with, knowing exactly what we’ve got to do and when.

“There’s a language barrier to work through, but there’s a lot of interest and questions on both sides.

“Getting the best understanding of each other means we’ll be better placed to work together in more complex scenarios later.”

For two personnel in particular there was more familiarity to proceedings than expected.

Col Grigol Chelidze (shown left), commander of the Nato-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre, came face-to-face with an old colleague from his training days.

The Georgian officer studied at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst back in 2002, where an instructor with a strong focus on tactical soldiering made a lasting impression on him.

Fast-forward 15 years and he was stunned to meet CSgt – now Maj – Curt Vines once again, who is now officer commanding the battalion’s Support Company.

“When I saw Curt, all that had changed was his rank and the colour of his hair!” said Col Chelidze, who was only the fourth Georgian officer to attend Sandhurst.


Read the full story in the September issue…

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