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Georgian troops praised once again

By Ernest Petrosyan
Thursday, March 4
“Georgia’s contribution to the Afghan operation is extremely important, which has gotten far too little attention” stated US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke at a briefing in Washington on March 2, summing up his recent trip to Georgia, Germany, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Holbrooke stated that no issue except Georgia’s plan to send an additional battalion to Afghanistan had been discussed in Georgia. “I was not there on any other subject. We did not discuss U.S-Russian relations. We did not discuss issues involving their future relationships with NATO. This was an Afghanistan-related trip”, stated Holbrooke.

He also added that he had discussed this plan a year ago with President Saakashvili, who also accompanied him on this trip to the training mission. “The U.S. Marines, who are advising the training and who do this as a profession, said these are among the best troops that they’ve ever seen. These – many of these troops fought in Iraq with the coalition. Those of you who know Georgia know that it’s a mountainous country with terrain features that are sometimes similar to Afghanistan. They have a tremendous fighting tradition”, stated the US official.

In addition to the currently serving 175 marine troops under the French command in Afghanistan Georgia will send a marine battalion in April, which will be deployed alongside U.S. marines in the province of Helmand. “On a per capita basis, right now, they are – they appear to have the highest per capita troop contribution of any country in the world. They’ll be up to about 950 troops when this battalion gets there. It’s an extremely important deployment and we are grateful for it,” stated Holbrooke.

Richard Holbrooke expressed great appreciation on behalf of the entire US Government for such a significant contribution to the coalition operation in Afghanistan. Holbrooke also stated that his trip to Georgia “came by coincidence on the same day that the Government in the Netherlands fell.” The Dutch Government collapsed on February 20 when its two major parties failed to agree on whether or not to extend the presence of the Dutch troops in Afghanistan beyond their original deadline of August, 2010.

Speaking to The Messenger military analyst Irakli Aladashvili stated that at this stage it was not worth sending an entire battalion, an additional one hundred troops would be enough. "The Georgian Government tries to cooperate and contribute much to the NATO operation, thereby proving its wish to integrate with the alliance. Nevertheless, concentration on protecting Georgia as an energy corridor would be more rational," he said.