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U.S. Marines to Train Georgian Troops for Afghan Mission
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 14 Aug.'09 / 17:54

A group of U.S. marine trainers will arrive in Tbilisi on August 15 to help prepare Georgian battalion for deployment in Afghanistan in spring, 2010, the U.S. embassy in Georgia said on Friday.

“The training will focus on skill sets necessary for Georgian forces to operate alongside ISAF partner forces in a counterinsurgency environment in Afghanistan,” the embassy said. 

“No weapons will be provided to the Georgians as part of this training,” it added.

The training program will launch on September 1.

On August 6 the Georgian Parliament gave its green light to Georgian troops deployment in Afghanistan. Georgia will to send an infantry company later this autumn and a battalion-size unit in 2010.

The infantry company will be deployed under the French forces and the battalion under the U.S. command; two servicemen will be stationed under the Turkish command, according to the Georgian Defense Ministry.

Reuters and The New York Times reported quoting Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell as saying on August 13 that the training mission “is not designed to get them [the Georgian battalion] ready for any internal defense.”

“This is about the United States supporting Georgia’s contribution to the war in Afghanistan, which everybody can recognize is needed and valued and appreciated,” Morrell said.

“We have been very forthright with our Russian counterparts about what we are doing,” Morrell said.

The New York Times reported, that number of trainers from Marine Corps training and advising team would fluctuate between 10 and 69 over the next six months.

The Georgian Defense Ministry said that its troops would participate in the Afghan operation “without national caveats attached,” meaning that Tbilisi is not impose restrictions where its troops can go and what missions they can conduct in Afghanistan.

The U.S. embassy said Georgia’s decision to send troops “is a vital contribution to the mission of bringing stability and security to Afghanistan.”

Plans about the training program were first announced on August 10, when Matthew Bryza, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state, told journalists in Tbilisi that those Georgian military units, which would be sent to Afghanistan, would be provided with training and equipment.

“What we are not doing is simply coming up with a plan to provide a large number of new weapons that will be deployed here in Georgia – no; we are training and then providing equipment, the Georgian forces will need on the ground in Afghanistan,” he said.

Similar training program was conducted by the U.S. military instructors for the Georgian military ahead of their deployment to Iraq. Georgia withdrew about 2,000 of its troops from Iraq during the last year’s war with Russia.

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