- ‘Georgia should develop military industry’;
- ‘Military education, training should be a focus’;
Georgia needs “a total defense” wherein “each village should be able to defend itself”, as Russia has not dropped its plans to occupy entire country, President Saakashvili said on July 28.
He was speaking in live televised remarks at a meeting with army top brass and senior officials from the Ministry of Defense.
Saakashvili said that Georgia’s participation in the Afghan operation was important for the country both for geopolitical point of view, as well as for gaining military experience. “It is a huge military school for us,” he said.
“We need experience, as we need total defense… Presence in Afghanistan gives us unique experience… So not only we should not suspend our participation in the Afghan operation, but we should consider and seek for new opportunities for more active participation and we are holding consultations on the matter with our partners,” Saakashvili said.
He said that “creation of robust civil defense system” was very important and in this context mentioned reserve forces, which, he said, should be oriented towards “defense of territory.”
“Each village should be able to defend itself. There should be small, trained teams in each village and each settlement with minimal required arms so that everyone should be able to defend own land, village, street, town and region,” Saakashvili said.
“If the enemy force decides to advance [deeper into the Georgian territory] from the ethnically cleansed territories [Abkhazia and South Ossetia], each and every square meter of the Georgian land should burn beneath [the enemy force] – that is the task,” he said.
“But it requires proper development of civil defense system,” Saakashvili continued. “Defense of Georgia is not only a matter for several thousand professional [troops]; Georgia’s defense is a matter for each and every citizen of multi-ethnic Georgia.”
He said that Russia “has not given up” its plans “to overthrow the Georgian democracy and to occupy our entire territory”, which it tried but failed in August, 2008.
“It’s enough to look at their rhetoric and information war carried out on daily, minute-by-minute basis against Georgia… and you will see that they not only have not given up this plan to control Georgia, but they are working intensively on that,” Saakashvili said.
He said that Georgia’s “international position has strengthened” especially after the May, 2010 local elections and now it would not be easy for Russia to achieve its goals.
“But we also know that this threat may emerge in case of change of situation. So our task is to stop their [Russia’s] further advance [deeper into the Georgian territory] and Georgia’s eventual political goal is to liberate our territories and to achieve full de-occupation,” Saakashvili added.
He said that the government had to cut defense funding for 2010 because of the economic crisis, but added that the authorities would “reverse that process” of budget cut “as much as we can, because we can not leave the country without the defense.”
MoD’s funding for 2010 is GEL 749 million, down from GEL 897 million in 2009 and GEL 1.547 billion in 2008.
Saakashvili said “money will be invested in education, training and increase of professionalism”.
“In previous years we are spending much more on arms, than on training; now there will be much more training and filling arsenal is a separate issue,” he said.
“Of course the armed forces need to be equipped and we will continue this process, although we have more than enough of minimum of required arms, so there is no need to further import the arms, which we already possess; we need other type of weapon,” Saakashvili said without further elaboration on details.
“Well-trained army and well-trained officers are ready to fight in the condition of any weapon, but the army fails to fight if its officers are not well-trained no matter what kind of weapons they possess; that’s the major principle, so our major weapon is our knowledge, skills and training,” Saakashvili said.
He said he was not satisfied with the current level of military academy and acknowledged that it was a mistake to shut down school of cadets five years ago.
Saakashvili said that the army went through a painful reform recently, as over 800 officers, mainly colonels and vice-colonels, were discharged as a result of three-step testing process.
“We have many good officers, but we need much more,” he said.
Saakashvili welcomed that the Defense Ministry took over Tbilisi aircraft factory. “It is important to have really good management, which knows how to build this sector,” he said.
“When we speak about becoming Singapore – with democracy, but Singapore in terms of development… – Singapore also started development of its small but own military industry with its own technologies… That’s something Georgia should also do,” he said.
“There are many skeptics around me who say that Georgia won’t be able to do that. Georgia can do that,” Saakashvili added.
During his speech Saakashvili also referred to developments in Mukhrovani-based tank battalion on May 5, 2009 and said that “an attempted military coup was quickly localized”.
“That attempt showed to me contrast existed at the time between various military units and officers. We were at first in the base of the 4th brigade where the commander had books [on military] on his table… And then we arrived in Mukhrovani, where… people there had [Georgian tabloid] newspapers Alia, Asaval-Dasavali and bunch of other dirty stuff on table,” Saakashvili said.
“That was an expression of confrontation between the new and old Georgia and in that case the new Georgia showed its strength, courage and patriotism; that’s how it should be,” he added.