Marines help Georgians prepare for Afghanistan

14 Aug 2009 | Lance Cpl. Russell Midori

The Republic of Georgia has offered up an infantry battalion to support the U.S. mission of bringing security to Afghanistan, and a Marine from Parris Island has stepped up to help train them. 

Next week, one of the Depot’s own Weapons and Field Training Battalion Marines, Sgt. Michael Long, a combat marksmanship trainer, will become a member of a hand-selected Georgia Training Team.

The team will consist of about a dozen Marines. They’re tasked with the mission of developing a Georgian battalion capable of conducting counter-insurgency missions, said Gunnery Sgt. Antonio Foster, the Field Training Company operations chief. Foster, from Columbia, S.C., was one of the Marines who recommended Long for the job.

“He’ll be there for about six months supporting the Georgian Development Training Program,” Foster said. 

The training program is scheduled to last about two years with training teams relieving each other after each 3- or 6-month period.

Marines and corpsmen will be selected from bases worldwide, however, Foster said it is unusual for Parris Island Marines to leave the Depot on international missions of any kind. 

“It’s something that hasn’t happened too often in the past, but guys like Long are waiting for an opportunity like this,”
Foster said. 

The team he will become a part of has no shortage of lessons planned for the troops, Long said.

“We’re going to teach them marksmanship, combat patrolling, IED-(improvised explosive device) detection and interrogation techniques,” Long explained. “We’ll show them how to set up vehicle checkpoints and entry checkpoints and how to search suspects,”
he added. 

He said he has worked with foreign troops before in his career, and he feels confident in his ability to train the Georgians. 

“I feel responsible for teaching them the right way of doing things,” said Long, from Akron, Ohio. “I know I can relate a lot of information to them from my own experiences.”

Before he begins working with troops in Georgia, he’ll go through about a week of preparation with the Marine Corps Training and Advisory Group in Fort Story, Va.

“We train advisory teams to deploy and work with host-nation security forces,” said Master Sgt. Brent Dorrough, the senior enlisted advisor
for MCTAG. 

“We can build a team of anywhere from 10 to 190 people,” said Dorrough during a telephone interview. “We train them and deploy them to Africa, South America,
Europe – wherever.” 

Dorrough, from Hogansville, Ga., said similar training done through MCTAG has been very effective for foreign troops in the past. The involvement of international militaries has helped to ease the burden of U.S. involvement in the Middle East.

“Looking at the big picture — a battalion of Georgians fighting keeps a battalion of Marines at home,” he said.

“The Georgians are going to support a Marine Expeditionary Brigade in Afghanistan,” he explained. “In order for them to support our Marines, who better to train them than us?”

Dorrough said he is pleased to have a Parris Island Marine represented in his unit. The fact that trainers on the Depot know how to break information down to its simplest form will prove especially useful for training troops, who are new to the M-16 family
of rifles. 

“The Georgians are going to learn the fundamentals,” Dorrough said. “We start with common skills to build a foundation.”

Though basic, the knowledge and exercises the advisory team passes on will be vital to the troops as they support the U.S.

“It’s going to be Marine Corps training,” he said. “The end product won’t be Marines, obviously, but we will give them the skills they need to occupy battle stations in Afghanistan,”
he said.

Long remains equally enthusiastic about the mission and confident he is up to the task, he said. 

“I’ll do everything in my power to get their men ready for any tactical situation they might see,” he said. “Marines are going to be depending on the skills of Georgian soldiers, and I’m going to make sure they have nothing to
worry about.”


Marine Corps News
Marine Corps Training and Education Command