TBILISI, Georgia --
Most Georgian soldiers have never driven a car. For many, their first vehicle is a high mobility multipurpose-wheeled vehicle, commonly called humvee, which they are learning to drive for their upcoming deployment to Iraq.
The Georgians learn everything from convoy driving to vehicle maintenance to radio calls from reserve Marines who are all experienced convoy drivers in hostile environments.
“We want to ensure the Georgians are trained and feel confident driving humvees before they are sent into Iraq,” said Lt. Col. David Stuebe, a reserve Marine from Portland, Ore., assigned to Marine Forces Europe.
Armed with interpreters and military experts, the Georgians’ biggest challenge learning to drive the humvee is adjusting to an automatic vehicle, said Staff Sgt. Matt Willis, a reserve Marine assigned to 24th Marine Regiment, Kansas City, Mo.
“We had to get past two-foot driving,” said Willis who drove convoys in Iraq for a year in 2004 to 2005. “If Georgians have driven, it has been in a standard vehicle, and they make the mistake of pushing the brake mistaking it for a clutch.”
Willis remarked the Georgians soldiers caught on to humvee driving very quickly, and all personnel passed the course.
Humvee training is just one part of the training operation at Krtsanisi Training Center, located 10 kilometers outside of Tbilisi, Georgia. The training also included weapons handling and medical training.
The Marines, Army, Air Force and Navy all came together to train Georgian military members in the training operation called the Georgian Stability and Sustainment Operation.
The European Command-sponsored training camp is instrumental in preparing Georgian military forces for their deployment to Iraq. Georgia is the single largest contributor per capita involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to the Georgian Ministry of Defense.
No one can predict what Georgian forces will encounter in Iraq, but Marine forces are sure to prepare the Georgians for convoy driving with lessons they learned and skills they gained during their deployments to Iraq.