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COVID-19 precautions helps keep Noble Partner 20 on track

By Spc. Isaiah Matthews | Georgia National Guard | Sept. 11, 2020

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VAZIANI TRAINING AREA, Georgia – Soldiers of the Baumholder, Germany-based, 557th Medical Company Area Support conducted COVID-19 testing during Exercise Noble Partner 20 at the Vaziani Training Area near Tbilisi, Georgia, Sept. 10.

To minimize the spread of the virus and preserve the safety and readiness of the force, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Army and Georgia collaborated to achieve acceptable results for troop safety. U.S. and Georgian medical personnel are working together to screen and test Soldiers on the Vaziani Training Area throughout the exercise.

The operational readiness of personnel is vital during a global public health crisis. “Each Soldier was administered a COVID-19 test at their home station 72 hours prior to coming to Georgia,” said Sgt. Carlos Mayfield, a combat medic with 557th MCAS, 30th Medical Brigade and the noncommissioned officer in charge of COVID-19 testing during the exercise. “They must have received a negative response on that test. Upon arriving to Georgia, all the documentation with the negative test results was passed off to the host nation.”

All U.S. soldiers, both from the Vilseck, Germany-based 2d Cavalry Regiment, and the Macon, Georgia-based 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, were required to complete COVID-19 testing before entering and exiting quarantine to reduce the risk of exposure and transmission before arriving in Georgia.

Mitigation measures included additional testing, physical distancing, hand washing and personnel protective equipment such as masks. Elements of Noble Partner 20 were altered, such as the planning timeline and training events within the exercise.

Some allied and partner nations scheduled to participate rescinded due to homeland engagements.

The Georgia Army National Guard remained committed to the exercise despite its ongoing assistance to the state in fighting the spread of the coronavirus.

“We’re in a different country. I think we need to show that we can train Soldiers and be safe at the same time,” said Georgia Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Maurice Taylor, a combat engineer with the Glennville, Georgia-based Alpha Company, 177th Brigade Engineer Battalion. “My Soldiers know that if they have something going on, they can let the medical guys know.”

Georgia Army National Guard Col. Jason Fryman, Noble Partner 20 U.S. exercise director, said Soldiers are going through random testing to ensure the control measures are effective.

The Georgia National Guard and the country of Georgia have been cooperative partners since 1994 as part of the National Guard State Partnership Program.

U.S. forces routinely work and train with Georgian Defense Forces conducting various exercises. The U.S. Army’s presence in Europe promotes stability in the region. Participation in joint multinational exercises enhances professional relationships and improves overall coordination with allies and partners during a crisis. The multi-domain realistic training improves interoperability and partnership capabilities among participating nations while enhancing global security.