Defense Minister Levan Izoria at the Defense and Security Committee hearing, February 13, 2018. Photo: parliament.ge
Georgian Defense Minister Levan Izoria presented yesterday a report at the Georgian Parliament’s Defense and Security Committee meeting, focusing on the country’s main defense priorities.
Izoria stated the fundamental function of the Georgian armed forces was to be a deterrent factor to decrease the probability of a foreign aggression, and “in the case of war to have the capability to slow down the enemy, to cause significant damage to them, and to stop their aggression.”
The Minister spoke about the combat training center, built at a military base in Vaziani, near Tbilisi, saying it would be ready to function in 2018. Izoria added that in the coming May, Georgia and its foreign partners would launch the Georgia Defense Readiness Program, also stressing that it was “the most adequate program within the new containment policy, defined by NATO.” The purpose of the program, according to the Defense Minister, was to strengthen Georgia’s defensive capabilities through training nine Georgian army battalions by American military instructors.
The Defense Minister particularly stressed the fact that, unlike the previous training programs facilitated by Georgia’s foreign partners which were aimed at preparing Georgian troops for international missions, this time the purpose of the training would be to prepare them for territorial defense of their own country. Izoria called this change a “historic fact.”
He also noted that besides training, the nine Georgian battalions would also receive NATO-standard equipment within the Georgia Defense Readiness Program framework, adding that the country was already getting arms from its foreign partners.
According to the Defense Minister, the program also envisions preparation of Georgian instructors who will be able to provide continuity in the training of troops once involvement of foreign instructors is over.
Minister Izoria said Georgia was in the process of adopting the total defense concept, which meant “mobilization of all national resources for the purposes of territorial defense.” The approach involves civil, economic, information and political defense along with the military, according to the Minister.
Levan Izoria also spoke about priorities in the defense budgeting, saying he considered one of the main achievements of his ministry that the portion of the defense budget allocated for weapons increased from four percent in 2015 to more than 20 percent in 2018. Izoria noted the recent acquisition of the Javelin anti-armor systems, and the plans to install a French anti-air system in Georgia in the near future.
The Defense Minister said that another change in the Georgian defense policy would be long-term planning for the acquisition of military equipment, with new plans covering years 2018-2023.
Levan Izoria also noted that during his recent visit to the U.S., members of the U.S. administration and both parties in Congress expressed their firm support of Georgia. He also told members of the Georgian Parliament that in a December 26, 2017 letter to the Georgian government, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis stressed that transfer of the Javelin systems to Georgia “was not just a technical event, but an expression of great trust.”