View Full Version : Martial Arts Program hits Georgia

10-30-03, 06:14 AM
Martial Arts Program hits Georgia
Submitted by: Marine Forces Europe
Story Identification Number: 20031028115739
Story by 1stLt. Justin Colvin

KRTSANISI, Georgia(October 28, 2003) -- U.S. Marines from Task Force Georgia Train and Equip Program have brought the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program to the Caucasus in order to supplement the tactical training of selected units of the Georgian military.

During July 2000, General James L. Jones directed the development and implementation of a martial arts program unique to the Marine Corps. The framework of the program is designed to enhance the physical and mental warfighting capabilities of the individual Marine and in turn, improve the overall combat effectiveness of the entire Corps.

Improving the combat effectiveness of the Georgian Army is a primary goal of Task Force GTEP, so integrating the MCMAP program into the syllabus was a key element of the training. "We're trying to introduce these young soldiers to the warrior ethos," said Staff Sgt. Chad Roark, chief martial arts instructor, Task Force GTEP. "So far these soldiers have performed intensely and with a sense of purpose. They want to learn more."

Georgia has been an interesting place to teach MCMAP since it is in the geographic heart of where Sambo, one of the martial arts that influenced the creation of the program, originated. "Many of these guys have an extensive martial arts background that is part of a deep family tradition, once you get through the initial language barrier, they understand what you are trying to teach," said Roark.

Sergeant Jonathan Wetzold, another instructor trainer with Task Force GTEP, has noticed the Sambo influence in this region as well. "You tend to see these guys revert to their old martial arts styles a lot more over here than you do training Marines back home," said Wetzold. "Training these guys though, is very similar to training new Marines in the U.S. It just takes a little longer since you have to do it through an interpreter."

U.S. Army Special Forces initiated GTEP in May of 2002 and turned over command of the mission to the Marine Corps later that year in December. The current phase of U.S. Marines, commanded by Maj. Charles A. Western, are the first to implement MCMAP into the period of instruction.

Bringing the martial arts program halfway around the world to train a foreign army has posed certain challenges that the Marines here have overcome. "We have a lack of training aids here right now. The Georgians don't have the kind of martial arts equipment you would typically find in a U.S. infantry battalion," said Roark. "We've had to make improvised hitting pads and punching bags by stuffing sea bags with pillows and cammies and whatever we can find, but we're getting the job done."

With what they lack in shiny new boxing gloves, the Marines have more than made up for with ingenuity and a wealth of experience. "The task force is a good example of how the MCMAP system is spreading through the Corps the way it's supposed to be," said Wetzold. "When we put this force together we didn't ask for instructors, but we ended up with two instructor trainers and three instructors here just by chance."

As the Georgian soldiers from the 111th Light Infantry Battalion progress through the course of their tactical training here, they are learning the fundamentals from their Marine instructors that will enable them to succeed on the battlefield with one mind, any weapon.