Afghan mission for Georgia
By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, June 15Georgia plans to increase its military presence in Afghanistan. By doing so the Georgian state authorities think that it is contributing towards ensuring global safety. The opposition in the country however sees things differently and is claiming that the current administration merely wants to safeguard its own welfare and security from the west.
The government's move had been predicted. It was announced at NATO ministerial on June 9, 2011 that by the beginning of 2011 Georgia will send an extra infantry battalion to Afghanistan. Today, within the framework of ISAF cooperation there are 925 Georgian soldiers deployed in Afghanistan. An extra battalion of approximately 750 servicemen will take the total number of Georgians in the war-ravaged country to 1675. This means that Georgia will have the largest contingent of soldiers in Afghanistan among the non NATO member countries. At present, that honour belongs to Australia who has 1550 military personnel in Afghanistan.
Georgia has already been praised by the US Vice President Joe Biden during his meeting with the Georgian president. This was later supported by the statement of Commander in Chief in the ISAF General David Petraeus. Georgia started participating in the NATO mission in 2003 when it sent 70 personnel to Iraq. By 2008 the number had increased to 2000. Skeptics say that because of its participation in international missions protecting the security of Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan; unfortunately Georgia did not protect its own security. When Russia attacked Georgia in August 2008 Georgian soldiers, with their experience of keeping peace in Afghanistan, arrived late for the war with Russia and even if they had come in time it is unlikely to have changed the result. Some analysts suggest that even if they had the whole Georgian army fighting in Afghanistan it would not accelerate Georgia's entry into NATO as the main factor is the impact it would have on relations between Russia and USA. Participating in ISAF mission is not a ticket for entering NATO. Meanwhile Russia is occupying Georgian territories and it is practically excluded for such a country to enter NATO. Most of the opposition thinks that by increasing its contingent in Afghanistan the Georgian ruling administration wants to please its western protectors, USA in particular. During the operation in Afghanistan Georgia has lost 7 servicemen already. Meanwhile, analysts have expressed their fear that by increasing its presence in the mission Georgia could become a target for terrorist attacks. Georgia’s contribution does not correspond to the situation in the country as it increases threats, analyst Irakli Sesiashvili. In any case Georgia has decided to take this step and can only hope that its western allies are appreciative.