Overview of Georgia’s participation to NATO military operations
By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Tuesday, August 15It is symbolic that the multinational military training Noble Partner 2017, aimed at strengthening the country’s military capacity,ended on August 12 when most Georgians commemorate the victory of Didgori Battle, which took place in the 12th century. Nine centuries after,Georgia still faces some threats due to its geopolitical location, which plays a major role in country’s development.
Today’s declared international policy of Georgian government is to join the Western military alliance - NATO, which could be the solution to many external problems the country has been facing. However, there are a number of terms to be fulfilled to join the alliance. Part of this arethe military trainings such as Noble Partner 2017 and joint international military operations with NATO forces.
Georgian Armed Forces have participated in international peacekeeping missions since 1999. At different times Georgian militaries were involved in the operations in Kosovo, Mediterranean, Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali and the Central African Republic. Here is the list of some of the NATO missions Georgia took part in:
• Peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, KFOR-Kosovo Forces, 1999-2008;
• Anti-terrorism mission operated in the Mediterranean,Active Endeavour, 2010-2016;
• ISAF – International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan, 2004-2014;
• NRF – NATO Response Forces,2015;
• Resolute Support - led training, advice and assist mission,Afghanistan,2015.
Comparing to other NATO partner countries, Georgia is the largest contributor to Afghan mission. Since 2010, 32 Georgian soldiers were killed in Afghanistan and over 300 injured. From time to time, the question about the purpose of Georgian army's presence in a foreign countryarises.But, the state’s firm position on Georgian army’s participation to NATO's military operations have not changed despitesignificant shifts in political power.
Georgia's aspiration towards NATO stays intact for many years and this aspiration of the country to join the organization is not left without attention of the international partners.
Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Georgia, Elizabeth Rood, stated to Media at the Noble Partner Closing Ceremony: "We are proud that our partnership with Georgia is visible around the world. Georgia has contributed per capita more troops to the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan than any other ally or partner."
One more evidence of US support to Georgia’s NATO aspirations was the letter sent by the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recalling a statement made by US Vice President Mike Pence on his visit to Georgia that the US respects Georgia’s contribution to security in Afghanistan.
The participation to international military operations is part of Georgia's defense strategy. With these actions that do not come at an easy cost, Georgia gradually approaches its purpose to join the NATO and the memberhsipis believed to be the guarantor of peace in the region.To succeed in this path, Georgia needs support from the international partners as never before.