"We are training the Georgians to provide inside the wire and outside the wire security ... and force protection," said Lt. Col. William Shannon, European regional plans chief at Marine Corps Force Europe and Africa, which oversees the program.
"We are there embedded with the Georgians to advise and enable them. You don't have Marines going out on their own or by themselves [as a group]," he added.
In one case, a Marine suffered injuries after a joint Georgian-U.S. patrol took a hit from a motorcycle laden with an improvised explosive device. As a Navy corpsman worked on two seriously wounded Georgians, the hurt Marine organized a medical evacuation.
The unidentified corpsman and Marine received Georgian medals for their actions, officials said.
Safety, though, remains at the forefront of leaders' minds, said Shannon said."We're always concerned about the force protection of our Marines," he said. "That's at the top of the priority list."
To prepare for the usually seven-month deployment, Marines tapped for the mission undergo about five months of training with their Georgian counterparts in their home country. That's where the Georgia Training Team, another group of Marines, comes into play, said Lt. Col. John Litton.
These Marines, about 40 of them, must exhibit patience and maturity, he said. Marines need to understand they're not directing Georgian troops, but working alongside them, he said.
Soldiers from the 43rd Georgian Infantry Battalion post security as another soldier attends to a simulated casualty during the Mission Rehearsal Exercise at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, Hohenfels, Germany, Feb. 22. The Mission Rehearsal Exercise is a month-long culminating event in which soldiers from the 43rd Georgian Infantry Battalion are tested in their abilities before being deployed to Afghanistan with a small team of Marines.
Photo Credit: Lance Cpl. Calvin Shamoon/Marine Corps
Training culminates in a month-long exercise at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany. The rehearsal puts the Georgians in contact with Afghan role players, and has them cooperate with U.S. officials to call in air strikes and arrange evacuations.
They also patrolled a training area resembling Bagram, complete with a bazaar, and conducted missions in simulated Afghan villages. Moldovan troops took on the role of members of the Afghan National Army and Afghan Police Force, officials said.
With that done, the joint Georgian-Marine group's next stop is Afghanistan.
Litton described the Georgians as good allies and tough fighters.
"One of the things we all took out of it is that the Georgians, they have a long history of being warriors. They aren't afraid to fight. That also goes along with how they support our mission in Afghanistan," he said. "They provide more troops with less caveats than anyone else and they've been doing that for a while. … When you look at these guys they're warriors, they want to be warriors."