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About increase of military contingent in Afghanistan

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, February 10
On February 6, during his speech at Munich security conference, President Saakashvili stated that the military contingent of Georgia in Afghanistan will increase. Maybe the statement was appreciated by Munich conference participants; however inside Georgia it caused a wave of criticism. Some opposition members even think that the President’s statements served less to the country’s interest but rather improved his standing in the west.

Today, around a thousand Georgian military personnel serve in Afghanistan. Saakashvili's Munich statement was very impressive. Not only will there be an increase in the contingent of Georgian soldiers but also in assistance to prepare artillery specialists and reforming police. Georgia plans to increase its presence in Afghanistan while other countries are rapidly decreasing their contingent on the ground. Military analyst Irakli Sesiashvili thinks that, for the purposes of getting gratitude of western leaders, Saakashvili undermines the country’s internal security. Giorgi Melitauri, a fellow analyst, thinks the existing number of Georgian militaries is enough for Georgia. Today it is not yet clear how many additional soldiers will be sent to Afghanistan. Maybe the number will increase up to 1 military brigade- approximately 2200 soldiers. This was the number of Georgian soldiers serving in Iraq 3 years ago. Analysts even suggest introducing certain limit- up to how many militaries could be sent abroad.

There is an opinion in Georgia that this issue had not been discussed previously and was not included in the draft copy of his speech and that the president made this statement based on his personal, private initiative. No preliminary debates were conducted in parliament or government as far as it is known to the public. The public opinion was neither positive nor negative about this issue. As it had not been discussed whatsoever in any level.

Independent analysts are generally against the current initiative, highlighting that when 20% of the country’s territory is occupied by a foreign power, the initiative of sending more soldiers abroad does not seem right.