US and Georgia Expand Military Cooperation

Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli discussed specific plans to increase the combat readiness of the Georgian Armed Forces at the Pentagon

Georgian Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli, who is on a visit to the United States, held a number of meetings at the Pentagon. According to the Georgian Defense Ministry, the purpose of the visit is to develop a concrete plan for the implementation of the agreements reached earlier between the United States and Georgia. In particular, we are talking about a memorandum on deepening partnership in the field of defense and security, signed by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili on July 6 in Tbilisi. As the Secretary of State said then, in addition to the possibility of acquiring defense equipment, the memorandum also implies the holding of joint US-Georgian exercises, the exchange of experience and information, as well as cooperation in the field of security..
According to the report of the Georgian Ministry of Defense on July 20, at the US Department of Defense, the parties discussed the prospects for military cooperation for the next three years, considered priority areas and a new program of military assistance, which the United States will begin to implement in Georgia from 2017. Prior to that, a group of American military experts will arrive in Georgia in September to clarify the details of this program..
As the head of the Georgian defense department told the media, until now, US military assistance to Georgia was associated only with international missions and the country’s preparations for joining NATO. However, now, according to Khidasheli, the American side will help in the implementation of the goal set by the Georgian leadership, according to which the Georgian armed forces must be fully prepared to carry out territorial defense tasks..

US and Georgia Expand Military Cooperation

“For the first time, our partner helps us not only in peacekeeping missions or NATO operations, but also in what the Georgian state needs most. The Armed Forces Readiness Program will be a turning point and the beginning of a fundamentally new era in the Georgian Armed Forces … We will have the opportunity, with the help of instructors and the US military, to transfer the entire Georgian army through this program to a fundamentally new training regime, with the availability of new equipment and capabilities, which the Georgian the army did not have before, “- said Tina Khidasheli.
First Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces Omar Begoidze, in turn, said that the program for maintaining the combat readiness of the Georgian Armed Forces will provide “institutional changes in all areas of the defense system”, which, in his words, will lead to “an increase in the readiness and capabilities of units during defensive operations for our national security “.
“Not for the first time”
According to Tornike Sharashenidze, professor at the Georgian Institute of Public Administration, the further expansion of cooperation between the United States and Georgia in the field of defense is a positive fact, although the expert clarified in an interview with Voice of America that this is not the first time the United States is helping Georgia to improve its defense capabilities. Sharashenidze recalled the American Georgia Train and Equip Program, which began in May 2002 and lasted 18 months..

US and Georgia Expand Military Cooperation

“Tina Khidasheli, who will soon step down from the post of Minister of Defense, as her party decided to leave the ruling coalition and independently participate in the parliamentary elections in October, with such statements is most likely trying to get additional political points, although the new program of military assistance itself the side of the United States is an extremely significant fact “, – the expert believes.
A weighty argument for pro-Western forces

US and Georgia Expand Military Cooperation

Director of the Institute of Political Science at Tbilisi State University, Professor Malkhaz Matsaberidze, noted in an interview with Voice of America that since the details of the new US military assistance program are still unknown, it can only be judged on the basis of official statements. Based on what was said by Tbilisi and Washington, we are talking about the unprecedented support of the Georgian Armed Forces from the strategic partner, including their provision with the latest equipment..
“Until now, the arsenal of the Georgian armed forces had mainly Soviet and Russian weapons, and after the Russian-Georgian war in 2008, at the insistence of the Russian Federation, with which the Western countries reckoned more than now, an unofficial embargo was in effect. … Accordingly, in the absence of weapons, Georgia’s defense capacity was gradually declining, “Matsaberidze recalled in an interview with the Russian service of the Voice of America..

Strengthening Georgia’s defence

The expert is convinced that large-scale assistance from the United States will be a very “important factor” for maintaining the Western vector in the country, since, according to him, the “too high expectations” created by the Georgian authorities in connection with the integration into the EU and NATO gradually turned into disappointment among a certain part of the Georgian population. Expanding partnership with the United States, according to the political scientist, will be able to compensate for the delay in steps to accept Georgia into the North Atlantic Alliance.
“This program, which will be implemented by the government that will come to power in Georgia after the elections, is a strong argument for the pro-Western forces in favor of the fact that Georgia’s attempts to get closer to Western structures are not in vain and that the pro-Western policy makes sense and brings concrete results. including security, “Matsaberidze believes.
The expert believes that the new United States assistance program for Georgia will irritate Russia this time too. Although, as noted by Matsaberidze, since 2012 the Georgian authorities have “tried in every possible way” to settle relations with Russia, this, nevertheless, “did not stop the creeping annexation.” According to the political scientist, Georgia should strengthen cooperation in the military sphere with partners, not taking into account the reaction of third countries, since, according to the political scientist, “a defenseless country is a more tempting target for aggression than one that has a high level of self-defense and a strong partner.”.

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