HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- A platoon of Georgian soldiers with the 31st Georgian Light Infantry Battalion and Marines with the Georgian Liaison Team conducted an air raid led by Afghan National Army soldiers in Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 12.
The mission was to conduct a synchronized helicopter-borne and motorized raid in order to capture a high-value target.
“We determined that our target was associated with (this) location and determined a heloborne assault would give us the highest probability of success,” said Staff Sgt. Canon Richard, an infantry advisor with the GLT. “From there we worked with and trained the Georgians to conduct this mission. Once on the deck we established security around the objectives and systematically cleared them with the (Afghan soldiers).”
The GLT trained extensively with the Georgian soldiers as this was their first helicopter-borne raid.
“We conducted several weeks of training with the Georgians prior to execution,” explained Richard. “We did static drills at Camp Leatherneck to practice setting landing zone security and loading procedures. We went to the flight line to practice loading and offloading the actual helicopters, and then conducted a rehearsal mission in the desert. All training was conducted during light and low visibility environments.”
Though the GLT assisted in coordinating with the Aviation Command Element, the Georgians took the lead in planning the ground scheme of maneuver and selecting the objectives.
“It was a good learning experience for the Georgian company commander to see what information is needed and how the process works,” said Richard. “We then coordinated with the Afghans prior to and during the conduct of the mission. It was really impressive to have a unit totally unfamiliar with air operations develop so quickly. It is a real testament to the dedication and professionalism of their officers and staff noncommissioned officers.”
Richard explained there will always be things to improve on, but that the 31st GLIB has proven they can conduct a helicopter-borne raid and they did very well for their first helicopter operation.
“The operation is a big step forward for the Georgians. The success was a mix between the hard work and professionalism of the Georgian Company led by Capt. Jalagonia and his platoon commander 1st Lt. Jabua and a lot of dedication and expertise by Capt. McCabe, the air officer for the GLT, Capt. Cooper, the ANGLICO lead, and our infantry advisor team.”
Though no high-value target was detained, the 31st GLIB, GLT, ANA Soldiers were able to gather information about Taliban activity to bring back to their respective intelligence units.