At a joint news briefing on September 15 Interior Minister Irakli Okruashvili and Defense Minister Giorgi Baramidze announced that the Interior Ministry will pass its combat units – Internal Troops – under the command of the Ministry of Defense (MoD).
Both Ministers stressed that the move is a part of reform of the Georgian Interior Ministry and Defense Ministry’s armed forces.
“This was also one of the recommendations of our western partners, as it will help us to get closer to the NATO standards,” Defense Minister Giorgi Baramidze said.
The Interior Troops were the part of the Soviet sytem, and were one of the most instrumental forces of police repression, to be used against the potential threats inside the USSR. Heir to their Soviet analogue, the Georgian Interior Troops until now were subordinated to the Interior Ministry.
The reform of the Interior Ministry foresees its transformation into a fully civilian organization. Initially, Saakashvili's administration pondered transforming the Interior troops into the analogue of the Turkish Jandarmes, however it became clear today that the Interior Troops would be passed under the command of the General Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces.
“We think that the deadline for this reformation should be November 1… this decision was taken by the President [Mikheil Saakashvili] and the National Security Council,” Irakli Okruashvili, the Interior Minister said.
The both Ministers said that the move will also help to improve coordination and effectiveness of the Georgian armed forces.
Some military experts have criticized both Interior Troops and the Defense Ministry’s troops for uncoordinated actions during the armed clashes with the South Ossetian militia groups in August.
Interior Minister Irakli Okruashvili said “only a small group of special forces” will remain under the Interior Ministry’s subordination, which will be in charge of “maintaining order in the country.”