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It’s not size that counts in the Georgian Army

By Temuri Kiguradze
Thursday, October 15
Georgia has developed a new reservists concept, based on the principle of “small size equals better quality” which is scheduled to be implemented in 2010.

Head of the Georgian National Guard Department Zurab Arsoshvili, who presented the new concept in Tbilisi on October 13, said that all the mistakes and shortcomings of the national reservists system had been “thoroughly evaluated and analysed,” and this has created the “necessity of elaborating a new vision on the national reserve.”

The new vision will divide the reserve into regular and volunteer sections. The regular section will consist of former servicemen (of any military rank) of up to age of 45 in the required physical condition. The volunteer section will be open to any Georgian citizen who, besides meeting other necessary criteria, has reached the age of 27.

Anyone enrolling in the reserve will sign a four-year contract, under which they will undergo a 45-day training course once a year and may be summoned for five more days per year if required. After completing four-year courses and a total of 200 days training, the reservist will join the ranks of, as the paper puts it, “I Class Reservists”. During the training the reservist’s employer or educational institution must keep their position open for them to return to, and in addition reservists will receive a salary from the Government which equals an Army’s corporal’s salary.

“At this stage the number of I Class Reservists should be relatively small – about 3,000,” states the new vision. Reserve forces will receive a call to take part in “support operations” in the event of war or natural disaster.

The new document criticises the old Georgian reservist concept that trained 28,000 people in 2 years – 2007 and 2008. “This number was too big for this period,” notes the document, underlining that because of the short training period the reservists didn’t have “enough preparation for actual military service.” “Hence, the creation of new system of reserve troops has become required, which will be oriented towards maximising existing resources, quality and efficiency and not on the number of reserve troops.”

The Defence Ministry also promised that the new system will consider the experience in this field of the NATO countries and announced that reservists will be provided “with the best conditions and equipment” during their training. The new concept states that the National Guard should establish branches in the Georgian regions to ensure its efficient operation. The tasks these regional branches will undertake are listed as, “analysis and description of the real numbers, mood and opinion of the population [who might join the service]” in the region.

“Finally common sense has won and our Defence Ministry has considered that a small number of well trained troops is more efficient than a large number of boys who don’t even know how to shoot,” considers Georgian military analyst and Editor of the Arsenali military magazine Irakli Aladashvili. Speaking to The Messenger on October 14 Aladashvili, who was also part of the commission which worked out the new concept, noted that the old reserve system showed its weakness during the Russian-Georgian war in August 2008. “Now the system is likely to be improved and one of the most important things in this reform is the conception that the new reserve forces will have enough officers in place during actions, whereas the old system planned for only 5 officers for 500 reserve servicemen,” stated the analyst.

Adalashvili underlined that there will be no lack of volunteers to join the reserve, “and not only due to patriotic attitudes among Georgians, the reserve will provide good conditions of service. Each reservist will sign a contract that offers quite a good salary – about 700 lari per month - during the training period,” stated Aladashvili.