The United States will train the Georgian armed forces with focus “on the defense of Georgia,” General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said after meeting with President Saakashvili in Tbilisi.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Mikheil Saakashvili, Gen. Cartwright said that the assessment of the Georgian armed forces after the August war helped to understand the priorities of the training, as well as what new types of equipment were needed for Georgia’s “homeland defense.”
“We will start with the training. That is the core and the foundation of the activity, but the training will be focused on the defense of Georgia, on its self and internal defense and we will work hard to get both the skill levels that are necessary to do that and work as partners on the equipment necessary,” Gen. Cartwright said. He also said that Georgia remained committed to peaceful relations with neighbors
President Saakashvili said that the visit of the second highest ranking U.S. military officer “means that Georgia and the United States are moving to the completely new level, higher level of cooperation in the military-political sphere.”
“In the conditions, when 20% of the country’s territory is occupied, the risk is high and the provocations still continue. In the condition, when the situation is difficult in the region – and no one should have any illusion about it, that Georgia will continue creating modern, high level, much stronger armed forces, increasing its armament, number of soldiers and personnel and what is most important, increasing the level of training in order to defend our country more effectively,” Saakashvili said.
“Of course the army is not created in three or four years. It is obvious that training carried out in previous years was not designed for conduct of a large-scale war – these were peacekeeping-police operations. But now we are preparing qualitatively different armed forces,” he said.
Saakashvili reiterated Georgia readiness to contribute to the coalition forces in Afghanistan, “I have talked about it with you, Mr. General, and I wrote about it to President Obama.”