Major General Matiashvili, General King and Sergeant Major McDonald, Soldiers of the Georgian Defense Forces, and United States Marines. It is a great honor for me to be here today for the closing ceremony of the Georgia Deployment Program. The dedication of the Georgian Ministry of Defense and the Georgian Defense Forces is the main reason the Georgia Deployment Program has had such a long and successful history. The friendship between Georgia and the United States and the partnership between our militaries is stronger because of this program. There is no doubt.
I want to extend my deepest thanks to those of you standing in uniform today, and all those who came before you. While the mission has changed over the years, your commitment to excellence did not. Each rotation found ways to improve, and today we see the cumulative results of twelve years of hard work. Lowering the flag on a mission that has seen as much success as the Georgia Deployment Program is never easy. While I was not here when the program began in 2009, I have served in Afghanistan and saw firsthand the professionalism of both United States Marines and Georgian soldiers doing their part in the ISAF and the Resolute Support Missions.
Special thanks are due to the Peace Keeping Operations Training Center (PKOTC) for enabling the success of the Georgian soldiers in the Resolute Support Mission. Even without external resources, the PKOTC found a way to train and certify the final battalions when the mission was on the line. To the officers, NCOs, and soldiers of the PKOTC, your persistence in the face of adversity has made you more resilient and capable than ever. Dzalian didi madloba.
To the United States Marines and Sailors in front of me today, thank you for your contributions. Your mission also changed, sometimes at the last minute, while you were here, but there was never any doubt that you would accomplish it. You left families in the U.S., and put careers on hold to come here, so on behalf of the United States Embassy and the United States Government, I personally want to thank each and every one of you for your service to your country, the Marine Corps, and to Georgia.
Finally, I would like to recognize all the brave men and women who put themselves in danger as part of the Mission. We are forever in the debt of those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and we will forever remember them with pride and honor. Thank you all for being here today to bring the Georgia Deployment Program to a close with dignity. The Mission may have ended, but the partnership and friendship endure. God bless you all. Dzalian didi madloba.