Agile Spirit - A Joint History
by U.S. Army Pfc. Laurie Ellen Schubert
September 28, 2019
When Agile Spirit started in 2011, there were approximately 350 Marines participating. The exercise was originally designed for small unit training in the country of Georgia between reserve Marines and the Georgian Defense Forces.
Now, the annual exercise is in its eighth iteration and has grown into a joint, multinational training event with approximately 3,300 participating service members from across 14 ally and partner nations.
Georgia Army National Guardsmen with the Monroe-based 178th Military Police Company conduct ambush training with the Georgia Defense Force during Agile Spirit 19 (AgS19) at Vaziani Training Area, Georgia on July 31, 2019. The combined training opportunities of AgS19 greatly improve interoperability among participating allies and partners. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Tori Miller)
With U.S. Army Europe co-leading the exercise with the GDF, there are fewer chances to spot a Marine among the different nations.
However, there is one former Marine and U.S. Army Soldier with the 178th Military Police Company, Georgia Army National Guard, who can share his perspective.
Sgt. Ryan Krohn, an MP with the 178th MP Company and former active duty Marine MP, provided insight into the importance of this exercise based on his experience with similar Marine-led exercises.
During his six years as a Marine, Krohn worked on the exercise Koa Moana, a multinational training exercise involving Australia, East Timor, New Zealand, New Caledonia and Tonga. He trained other militaries on military police operations throughout the Pacific region, and now he is conducting similar training in the Caucasus region.
Krohn’s role during Agile Spirit is as a combat instructor teaching Quick Reaction Force training.
“I’ll be taking the Georgians out [to train] and teaching them how to respond to an allied unit that might be pinned down or under attack, and how to effectively engage the enemy as a response force,” Krohn said. “My mission here is to get them on par with the U.S. forces and give them a basic understanding of how to achieve those missions and how to work in tandem with us.”
When it comes to comparing the exercises Koa Moana and Agile Spirit, Krohn says there are many similarities.
“When I was in the Marine Corps and training with these other countries, we’d say, ‘Hey, let’s build those bonds of friendship, let’s build those bonds of kinship, let’s show them the way we do things, and let’s learn the way they do things.’ They could know something completely different than we do,” Krohn said. “Coming here, I’ve already seen that same perspective and the benefits of working together.”
The mission for Krohn was not only training, but also building partnerships between individuals, units and countries. He has brought that same idea into this exercise, where building partnerships is critical among the 14 ally and partner nations participating in AgS19.
While some parts of Agile Spirit have remained the same, other parts have changed since its inception. Many nations including Bulgaria, France, Romania and Turkey were only observers of the exercise according to Lance Cpl. Scott Whiting’s article “Marines, Georgians conclude Agile Spirit 14”.
Now, most of those nations are participating in the exercise.
U.S. Department of Defense