U.S. Adm. James G. Stavridis, a nominee for commander of the NATO forces and U.S. European Command (EUCOM), said he shared “the current prudent policy” of providing Georgian army with training, doctrine and personnel management assistance.
“I think it is reasonable for Georgia to possess a capable military for its own defense and to participate in coalition operations,” Adm. Stavridis said before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee's confirmation hearing on June 2.
“I agree with current, prudent policy to focus our security cooperation with Georgia on fundamental intellectual issues like training, doctrine, and personnel management – the recent Partnership for Peace exercise in Georgia was an example of this. This provides a measured and meaningful way to help a country that has helped us in Iraq and has voiced its willingness to assist the US in Afghanistan,” he said.
Asked if there was a way to implement the assistance in a manner that did not provoke Russia, Adm. Stavridis noted importance of transparency in the U.S. security cooperation with Georgia.
“Prudent transparency concerning our assistance to Georgia would help Russia to see that ultimately we are merely trying to help catalyze regional stability and enable Georgia to do its part in working against many of the same transnational threats that worry both Russia and the US. The NATO-Russia Council, for example, is a good mechanism to provide this kind of transparency,” he said.
Speaking about Georgia’s NATO integration, Adm. Stavridis said that the decision was made by the Alliance that the country will some day become the NATO member.
“Based on the political decisions in the North Atlantic Council, the NATO military will have a supporting role in advancing defense reforms in Georgia and developing interoperability,” he said. “EUCOM, as guided by U.S. Government policy, will work in concert with NATO Allies, to assist with the military and security related part of this reform. This is an important part of advancing Georgia’s partnership with NATO.”
Meanwhile, Georgian Defense Minister, Davit Sikharulidze, is visiting the United States this week. Reportedly he is expected to meet with U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, on Thursday.