The 2005 assistance program, which is basically aimed to train Georgian officers, will be led by new head of the ODC Bradley Jones.
The U.S. assistance will also remain deeply involved with the continued support of the Georgian Train and Equip Program (GTEP) graduate infantry units and will assist the Georgian Defense Ministry with reforms and the restructuring necessary to institutionalize U.S. and western military standards. Further American military assistance will work to provide equipment and advanced training for the GTEP trained troops and for the officers that command them, and, in turn, will work to establish, train and equip new support units within the 11th Brigade.
“The end of the Train and Equip Program [GTEP] does not mean the end of the U.S. military assistance to the country. Now, the most important thing is that the battalions trained under the U.S.-funded program preserve their military level,” head of the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC), Georgia, Major Doug Peterson said on August 3.
He said, the fact that military cooperation with Georgia has been prolonged for another 18 months confirms that the USD 64-million project was successful. The Georgian Train and Equip (GTEP) was a one-time, short-term program to create and train four light infantry battalions and one mechanized armor company. This program ended with the 24 April 2004 graduation ceremony of the mechanized company.
“Georgia has well-trained battalions. We [the American side] are satisfied with the level of the soldiers trained under the GTEP. The supreme goal of the project was to assist Georgia in combating international terrorism,” Doug Peterson said.
In 2005 the U.S. will continue to assistance within the frames of traditional programs, such as Foreign Military Financing, International Military Education and Training, Joint Contact Team Program, as well as other programs funded by the U.S. Departments of Defense and State.
The International Military Education and Training Program provides professional military courses and training in the United States, and other overseas facilities, to Georgian military personnel and related civilian defense personnel. The U.S. has trained over 120 officers and civilians to date under the program.
Doug Peterson especially stressed the assistance program implemented by the Cubic Applications International. This is a Foreign Military Financing funded program in which U.S. military consultants work out of offices located at the Ministry of Defense, General Staff and 11th Brigade.
“These military experts work to restructure and reform the Ministry of Defense and General Staff, as well as implement NATO compatible structures, systems and doctrine, since Georgia is considered one of the real candidates for joining NATO,” Doug Peterson said.
Under the Joint Contact Team Program, Georgian officers and soldiers will attend weeklong seminars in Georgia or attend familiarization visits to American units in the U.S. or Germany to see and experience U.S. systems, doctrines and operations in action. During the initial stage, 25 officers will be dispatched to the United States.
The UH-1 Helicopter Program, which started in 2001, will still provide training for Georgian pilots. This program has already trained 23 Georgian pilots and maintenance personnel at the U.S. Army Aviation Training Base in Fort Rucker, Alabama.
According to Doug Peterson, this program has provided five U.S. UH-1 helicopters to the Georgian Armed Forces (Turkey also donated 2 such helicopters to the Georgian Armed Forces).
“These 7 helicopters are owned by Georgia. From time to time the Americans use them to train Georgian pilots,” Doug Peterson added.
According to the head of the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC), Georgia, both Georgia and the United States attach great significance to the practical experience of the militaries gained in the peacekeeping operations in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.
In 2003 the US Embassy’s Office of Defense Cooperation provided USD 320 000 worth of uniforms and field equipment to the Georgian unit participating in peacekeeping operations in Iraq.
In 2004 USD 2 million was provided to equip or provide replacement equipment and uniforms to the two Georgian battalions destined for service in Iraq.
“The fact that Georgian soldiers participate in peacekeeping operations in Iraq, along with the U.S. militaries is rather important both for Georgia and for the United States,” Doug Peterson said.
It should be noted that the ODC will have a new head soon – Bradley Jones will replace Peterson as office head.
“The term of my contract has already expired. I have served in Georgia for two years and despite a great deal of problems, my work in Georgia was rather productive. I do not cease contacts with Georgia. On the contrary, I will lead the military department in the United States, which will define the assistance policy for Georgia,” Doug Peterson added.
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