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Georgia to Send Artillery Instructors to Afghanistan
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 18 Feb.'11 / 16:56

Georgia, which is already contributing 950-strong combat unit in Afghanistan, plans to send a team of 11 artillery instructors to train Afghan forces, according to a proposal submitted to the Parliament for approval.

The team will be deployed under the command of the French troops in Afghanistan. The team will be rotated once in every five, or five and a half months, according to the proposal, which was approved by the parliamentary committee for defense and security on February 18.

In November, 2010 Georgia offered to send 20 instructors to help train the Afghan forces.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on February 6, President Saakashvili said that Georgia was ready to send more soldiers to ISAF mission.

“We've offered to send more troops and for the months to come some more troops will follow from Georgia and we are willing to consider increase of our assistance in order to help the Afghan people achieve a sustainable peace and to prevent terrorists from again using that country as a base,” Saakashvili told the Munich Security Conference.

In February, 2010 classified diplomatic dispatch from series of leaked U.S. embassy cables, published by WikiLeaks on February 18, U.S. ambassador John Bass writes, that “Georgians see their contributions to Afghanistan as a down payment on their admission into NATO.”

“Georgia continues to be a strong supporter of NATO operations and is a contributor to international security missions, including in particular ISAF in Afghanistan. The challenge is to express our appreciation for those efforts, but deliver the candid message that such contributions are a helpful, but insufficient step toward membership without the concomitant progress on the civilian side,” the cable reads.

In the cable the U.S. ambassador provides overview of political situation in Georgia ahead of visit to Georgia by Richard Holbrooke. Holbrooke, who died in December, visited Georgia on February 21-22, 2010 in his capacity of the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

“Our challenge is to convince President Saakashvili that he risks losing the enormous goodwill generated by Georgia's extraordinary contributions in Afghanistan if he fails to combine them with a new push to deepen Georgia's democratic development,” the U.S. ambassador writes in the cable. 

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