View Full Version : Task Force GTEP trains until the cows come home

11-08-03, 06:52 AM
Task Force GTEP trains until the cows come home
Submitted by: Marine Forces Europe
Story Identification Number: 200311771822
Story by 1stLt. Justin Colvin

KRTSANISI, Georgia(November 7, 2003) -- Marines assigned to Task Force Georgia Train and Equip Program conducted urban warfare training for Georgian soldiers this week at an improvised training facility occupying an abandoned Soviet construction project.

The site, dubbed "Bedrock" by the Marines because of its Flintstones-like appearance, was supposedly either meant to be refugee housing or luxury condominiums for Soviet officers according to local rumor. The project was never completed after the fall of communism here.

Sharing the landscape with the local population presents unique challenges for the Task Force GTEP Marines who are training the Georgian soldiers. "Back home when we're conducting MOUT training at Lejeune we don't typically have to adjust our schedule around a herd of cattle roaming through the middle of combat town," said Capt. Justin Ansel, Company E Team Leader. "The little kids from the neighboring village are also very eager to join in the training if we don't keep our eyes peeled. That presents a safety concern we need to watch out for that we don't normally have to worry about."

The Georgia Train and Equip Program, initiated by U.S. Army Special Forces and currently under the command of Marine Major Charles A. Western, is in this country to professionalize selected units of the Georgian armed forces in order to provide greater security and stability to Georgia and the surrounding Caucasus region. The countryside here is littered with remnants of the civil war and post-Soviet turbulence that plagued the region during the 1990's.

The Bedrock facility consists of concrete slab construction in various stages of completion. None of the structures have stairs and most are filled with piles of broken bricks and garbage from the surrounding area.

"Previous training cycles have assessed the safety of the various structures and marked them with spray paint indicating whether they are safe for training or not," said Staff Sgt. Steve Martinez, Company E trainer. "We police the area daily with the Georgians to keep the place cleaner than we found it and to make sure one of these little kids roaming around doesn't pick up something that's dangerous."

The current phase of Task Force GTEP is concentrating on tactical training for the 111th Light Infantry Battalion and will conclude with a company-sized live fire exercise in December. The follow-on cycle will train a mechanized infantry company utilizing Soviet armor such as T-72 tanks and BMP-1 armored personnel carriers.

As the week progressed, the Georgian soldiers gradually absorbed the training and were performing well by week's end. "I'm happy with the effort I've seen so far," said Ansel. "These guys may not be doing things exactly by the book, but I think we've overcome the language barrier to the point that they are executing the final result desired. They're getting the job done, which is what we expect from them."


Georgian soldiers keep watch over a notional vehicle barrier for a cordon and search exercise during MOUT training. Photo by: 1stLt. Justin Colvin