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Georgia's military path and future strategies

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, January 8
Giorgi Kikadze, a Georgian soldier killed in Afghanistan was buried in Rustavi city. Prior to the burial, his body was transferred from his home to the Sioni church, where Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, Defense Minister Irakli Alasania, US Ambassador Richard Norland, MPs and members of the Georgian opposition expressed their sympathies to the family members of the soldier. Special statements were made by Alasania who highlighted that Georgia will not take part in military actions in Afghanistan after 2014 and soon obligatory military service will be ended in Georgia.

The Prime Minister underscored that each Georgian soldier killed in action is a great loss for the country. However, participation in ISAF mission carries significant importance for the country.

Ivanishvili also emphasized that Georgian soldiers’ service both inside and outside the country should become as safe as possible.

The same aspirations were expressed by the members of opposition. According to UNM MP, Davit Darchiashvili participation in the operations is “too hard” however, “major” for Georgia.

“The hearts of all Americans are with the family now because of the terrible tragedy and loss,” US ambassador to Georgia, Richard Norland stated.

According to the ambassador, the death of a soldier is a great loss, though his self-sacrifice will not be in vain.

“It is very difficult for the family to comprehend this aim today, though after some time they will realize why their family member was killed and they will realize that his death was not in vain,” Norland said.

Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Admiral James Stavridis expressed deep sorrow over the death of the Sergeant and highlighted the braveness and professionalism of Georgian soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

Georgia does not intend to increase or decrease number of troops for the ISAF mission. However, after conclusion of the mission in 2014, Georgia will not take part in military operations. Statements concerning the issue were made by the Minister of Defense, Irakli Alasania.

“After 2014 we will be focused on sharing our experience with Afghan colleagues and through training. We will have a non-military mission in Afghanistan,” Alasania said.

The minister also stated that after 4 years, the country will move on to a professional army. According to him, the terms for obligatory military service will be deceased to 12 months and after it will be abolished altogether.

“We will move on to contract military service. No one should be forced into the army,” Alasania said.

A total of 93 Georgian soldiers have been wounded from 2010-2012 while serving in Afghanistan, according to the Georgian Ministry of Defense.

The information was obtained by the Tbilisi-based Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) from the MoD under the freedom of information act and was aired on January 4.

Georgia has lost a total of nineteen soldiers in Afghanistan, eight of them in 2012.