U.S.-Republic of Georgia crisis management exercise concludes successfully

June 24, 2011

U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs

TBILISI, Georgia – Shared Horizons 2011, a combined bilateral humanitarian assistance and response exercise conducted in Tbilisi, successfully concluded on June 23 with a visit from U.S. Army Europe Commander, Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling.

“Shared Horizons is a great name for an exercise that is a shared experience,” Hertling said. “Not only are the Georgians from NGO’s, crisis response, military and inter-agency stand point learning things from this exercise about how to react, but the American partners, and our U.S. military that is here are also learning a great deal to take back with us.”

The exercise was held at the National Guard Training Center and included soldiers from the state of Georgia National Guard and U.S. Army Europe, as well as 100 personnel from the Georgian government.

“The exercise was planned well; my assessment is very positive,” said Irakli Khadagidze, director of the emergency management department of the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs. “I would say that this is valuable training for us, because there are so many emergencies in our country and natural disasters, so it’s very important for us (to be prepared) and this is a very good experience for our personnel.”

This exercise wasn’t only beneficial for the Georgian government, but a great building block for the U.S. as well. “This is one of the premier exercises, where we can learn how to do crisis response and emergency response throughout the continent of Europe and we are making some very good partners to do that,” Hertling said.

Just days before the joint training was to begin, terrific rains in Shida Kartli and around Roki Pass caused serious flooding with unfortunate loss of life and great damages. This event underscored the need for natural disaster preparedness. The U.S. Government will turn over $505,000 worth of emergency supplies to affected people in Surami and the surrounding area.

Shared Horizons is scheduled to continue for the next couple of years and planners hope that it will continue to provide practical exercises that increase natural disaster preparedness.