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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid