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18-man Marine team headed to Afghanistan

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Marines Brush Up Marksmanship SkillsSmall groups of Marines still retain a presence in Afghanistan, despite the Corps’ main role in the war ending in October. The 18-man Georgia Liaison Team will offer their support and advice to the Georgians and will now assume security operations in Afghanistan.

The goal of the Georgia Deployment Program was to prepare Georgian troops to join NATO missions in Afghanistan. The Reserve usually make up the liaison teams, which are comprised of different units.

These new Marines will be met with peril, as a report from Marine Corps Times states the team they are replacing faced casualties in recent months while serving with the Georgians. In order to prepare for the deployment, which usually lasts seven months, Marines went through five months of training with Georgian forces in Georgia.

“If I can handpick guys, one, they have to have a lot of patience; this is not the type of mission with the type a guy where everything is done a certain way,” said Lt. Col. John Litton. “I have sergeants advising more senior officers. These guys have to be mature and interact with these [Georgians] in a way that they communicate effectively.” 

Training included a month-long exercise at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany where Moldovan troops played the role of the Afghan Army and Afghan Police Force in a simulation.

What the [exercise] is designed to do is put the Georgians in an environment where they deal with civilians in the battle space while having a living, breathing enemy in the form of the [opposing forces] that’s working against them,” said Maj. James Geiger, leader the liaison team.

The Georgians received high praise from Litton 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.”

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