New ambitions of the US-Georgian military cooperation

Thu, 02/03/2017 - 23:22

Official Tbilisi is actively seeking for approaches to the administration of Donald Trump, at the same time without losing the possibility to intensify political and military cooperation with Brussels.

February 10, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson received his Georgian counterpart Mikheil Janelidze. On the eve of the visit Georgian commentators, concerned about the possible, in their view, fall of Washington's interest in his Caucasian "Outpost", argued the need for Trump to pass a "Georgian test" designed to be no less decisive than the "Crimean", "Donbas" or "Ukrainian".

The question is, in their opinion, not only in the statements of politicians and in full consensus on the need for Georgia's membership in NATO, but also in participation of the Georgian contingent in ISAF operation in Afghanistan (where it is the second largest). The two countries are tied by "Strategic Partnership Charter" signed in 2009 and by a number of joint programs, including those related to logistics and equipping the Georgian armed forces.

Tbilisi expressed satisfaction from the first contact with the Secretary of State of the USA. According to the former head of the State Chancellery of Georgia, political scientist Peter Mamradze an important guarantee of immutability of Washington's policy toward Tbilisi is also a Republican majority in Congress and the Senate.

In addition, the Georgian Defense Minister Levan Izoria was invited to Brussels for a meeting of colleagues from NATO countries, where in the framework of the meeting "NATO-Georgia" held a series of bilateral meetings, including with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Georgian minister urged his counterparts from NATO to intensify support to Georgia and Ukraine in the framework of "security" in the Black Sea region. In response, Stoltenberg said memorized phrases about concern on strengthening of Russia's relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

But no less important was the visit of Levan Isoria and Chief of General Staff Vladimir Chachibaya to Bavarian Hohenfels. At the site of the former SS there is stationed now a US military base with an international training center for training military personnel going with the mission to Afghanistan and other countries. Currently there, in particular, are trained military personnel of 23rd battalion of the second infantry brigade of Georgian armed forces.

Levan Izoria agreed with the commander of US land forces in Europe, Lieutenant-General Frederick Ben Hodges on the establishment of a similar "military training center" in Georgia. Apparently, it will be created on the territory of the former military base of the Russian army in Vaziani near Tbilisi. The US and other NATO instructors will train Georgian troops there.

In late 2016, Washington and Tbilisi agreed on a three-year training program for new Georgian servicemen. "We intend to implement these ambitious plans this year. With our strategic partners, we will build a military training center similarly to Hoenfelskim "- said Levan Izoria.

The US military leaders spared no enthusiastic assessments of the high professionalism of the Georgian military participating in the mission in Afghanistan, called the Georgians "proud and reliable partners", "loving freedom and struggling for it," which "can ensure stability in the Caucasus and the Black Sea region" .

Hodges has stressed the important contribution of European command of the US armed forces in the development of the defense capacity of the Georgian army, announcing that soon he will leave for Tbilisi on the next visit. In addition, "the commanders of the bases in Grafenberg and Hohenfels in the near future will go to Georgia to get acquainted on the spot with the process of construction of the training center ... I think that the Georgian-US relations today are stronger than ever and will continue."

Earlier, the head of the Georgian government Giorgi Kvirikashvili emphasized on the need during the implementation of NATO programs for advanced combat training of Georgian troops.

A few years ago in Hohenfelse were serving both Georgian and Ukrainian soldiers and officers.

In August 2015, with the participation of Jens Stoltenberg and then Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili in Georgia was opened a joint NATO training center. It is also known that in the suburbs of Tbilisi is functioning bacteriological laboratory under the auspices of the US Defence Department. There is no doubt that the construction of new facilities, as well as the likely resuscitation of GUAM (the meeting at the level of heads of government is scheduled for March 27 in Kiev) can mean a new stage of NATO expansion into the former Soviet Union

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