News / Europe

Georgia Vows to Continue Afghan Military Mission

Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania passes soldiers while visiting the Mukrovani military base, east of Tbilisi, Georgia, Nov. 7, 2012.
Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania passes soldiers while visiting the Mukrovani military base, east of Tbilisi, Georgia, Nov. 7, 2012.
Georgia’s newly elected government has pledged to continue its long-term military contribution to the international security efforts in Afghanistan after most foreign troops pull out in 2014.

Georgian forces have been key players in NATO efforts in Afghanistan, and Georgia has lost more soldiers in the mission relative to the size of its population than any other participating nation. Since Georgia joined the operation in 2009, 18 Georgian troops have been killed -- seven of them this year.

Georgia now has some 1,570 troops serving in Afghanistan, making the small South Caucasian country of more than 4.5 million people the largest non-NATO contributor to the Afghan mission. Most of the troops are serving in the Afghan province of Helmand with a few dozen deployed to Kabul.

Georgia’s new defense minister, Irakli Alasania, recently visited the Georgian troops in Afghanistan and met with top NATO and Afghan officials. Alasania said Georgia is willing to support Afghan President Hamid Karzai in helping to train Afghan security forces after most international forces leave in 2014.

“Visiting our hero soldiers in Afghanistan is endorsement of their endeavor in ensuring Georgia’s security on one hand, and the global security, on the other,” he told VOA's Georgian Service. “Each of these operations, and our compatibility with NATO partners has a special significance.”   

NATO's needs

During his October visit to Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, NATO’s representative for the Caucasus region, James Appathurai, said Georgian troops will be crucial to NATO’s long-term focus on training Afghan forces.

“We do not want to plan anything without Georgia’s involvement,” he said. “Georgia might be willing to make its contribution to the Afghanistan mission after 2014, and this contribution will be very important.”  

Georgia’s interests are both pragmatic and historical.

Despite Russian objections, Georgia has ambitions to become part of the NATO alliance. And Alasania said Georgians, like Afghans, have in the past fought off dominance by the former Soviet Union.  

“We also know how difficult it is to be under the Soviet occupation -- Georgians have passed through this as well -- and it all builds up closer ties and makes us sympathetic to Afghan people,” Alasania said.

Still, Georgian officials concede that the Afghan mission does not guarantee admission to NATO.

“Nobody will give us a ticket to enroll NATO,” said Irakli Sesiashvili, who heads Georgia’s defense and security committee in parliament. “We have to get used to this as long as it needs a political decision of 28 countries.”

Georgia benefits

But Georgia analyst Jon Chicky at the National Defense University in Washington says Georgia can reap benefits in the long run.

“By deploying its troops to Afghanistan, Georgia demonstrates that it is a security provider to [the] NATO alliance, willing and able to send its troops into harm's way without the caveats that some of the existing NATO members have, even though their militaries are far more capable than Georgia's,” he said.

Chicky said Georgia’s involvement in Afghanistan will lead to better diplomatic relations with Washington as Georgian troops will help fill a void when U.S. soldiers leave Afghanistan in 2014.

Georgian armed forces will also gain international training on counter-insurgency while learning how to be part of a multinational coalition, Chicky said.

But some Georgian politicians say too much manpower is going to international deployment.

“If the very same political objective of a political elite can be achieved by two soldiers, then the third soldier is excessive,” said former Georgian Defense Minister David Tevzadze.

Georgian officials say the recent death of a 23-year-old corporal in Afghanistan is a grim reminder of the nation’s sacrifice.

“It is very difficult to talk about continuation of the mission and continuation of the policy when we lost another brave soldier a few days ago,” Alasania said recently. “It is a burden and obligation which Georgia has undertaken for ensuring international security.”

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs