US troops help train Georgian and Ukrainian forces amid tension with nearby Russia

U.S. soldiers, assigned to 2nd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, stop to pull security as they advance to the simulated enemy targets for the live-fire exercise during Agile Spirit 19 near Tbilisi, Georgia, July 29, 2019.

About 1,500 U.S. troops and a similar number of Georgians are participating in the drills. Twelve other countries, including Ukraine, have sent an a total of 300 participants.

U.S. and Georgian troops opened the event with a live-fire attack on enemy-held bunkers. They plan to move into defensive operations later in the exercise.

Agile Spirit gives Georgia and Ukraine more experience working with NATO allies, Janjgava said. Both countries are on track to become part of the alliance in the near future, the Georgian Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

The drills also help to prepare Georgian soldiers for upcoming deployments to Afghanistan, where Georgia is one of the top troop contributors to the NATO-led mission, Janjgava added.

“This exercise shows how maneuverable Strykers are in any given terrain,” Carter said.

When the cavalrymen finish the exercise, they plan on having a “culture day,” sightseeing in Georgia’s nearby capital, Tbilisi, and spending more time with their Georgian comrades, he said.

“It’s been great so far,” Carter said. “I’m impressed with the Georgian soldiers and look forward to spending the next few weeks with them.”