About 600 US and Georgian troops hold exercises to prepare for rapid reaction force

About 600 U.S. and Georgian troops are conducting joint exercises aimed at training the armed forces of the former Soviet republic for participation in the NATO Response Force.

Col. Michael Foster, commander of the U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade, said the exercises are "an absolutely unique opportunity for us" and "the way we are going to be fighting in the future."

Georgia has aspirations of joining NATO and contributed troops to the NATO-led military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the field exercise held Sunday on the Vaziani base outside the Georgian capital, troops simulated a mission to drive the enemy from a populated center and an airport.

The exercises began May 11 with theoretical training and end on May 24. Sunday was the first day of field exercises.