By this summer Georgia will have 70,000-strong trained “volunteer reserve” troops with “each village” having its local unit for self-defense, which will serve as “the firmest guarantee of peace,” President Saakashvili said on April 11
“In summer we will already have 70,000 retrained, volunteer reserve troops throughout Georgia. Next year, we will have 150,000. It means that each village will have its unit for self-defense and it is the firmest guarantee of peace, because Nazi Germany refused to enter into Switzerland, because Switzerland was the only European country, which had a reserve system. Some people, including a foreign diplomat may say: ‘study this reserve system better and discuss this issue for a longer time’. In 2008 we saw well that we need territorial defense and nobody will do our job instead of us,” Saakashvili said.
“We have started establishing a reserve system anew. We have received a phenomenal result. It irritates our enemy and its Georgian agents, so called politicians very much. In each village where the Defense Ministry has entered, all adult men enrolled in reserve forces. It is an astonishing result,” he said.
By saying the Defense Ministry “entering” into villages, Saakashvili was referring to the ongoing process of Georgian army officers meeting locals in the villages, calling on them to enroll into the reserve troops to form local units, which can be used in case of emergency or self-defense in the event of aggression. After Samegrelo region in western Georgia, such meetings were held recently in some villages of the Kakheti region in eastern Georgia.
There have been number of attempts to redesign reserve troops as the system which was in practice before the August war was admitted by the authorities as flawed. A concept of the new system was tabled in late 2009, then a relevant law was amended in summer, 2010. And in October, 2011 the Defense Ministry announced about the plan to form system of “voluntary reserve forces”, designed for those who were willing to be enlisted in the reserve forces, but were not eligible for compulsory reserve service.
In early March, 2012 Parliament amended law on reserve service, according to which a person over age of 18 will have the right to voluntarily enroll for reserve service; the same amendment also removes upper age limit for those willing to serve in voluntary reserve. Compulsory reserve service applies only to those between the ages of 27 and 40 (those with rank of a senior officer are eligible for being called in the reserve troops before the age of 65).
It, however, seems that more changes are planned in the law, including defining more exact parameters of the voluntary reserve system. A ruling party lawmaker, Givi Targamadze, who chairs parliamentary committee for defense and security, said in an interview with the Georgian daily 24 Saati last week that the Ministry of Defense launched a pilot project, which was still underway, to learn how the concept would work and a relevant legislative amendments would be submitted to the Parliament for approval later.
“It showed that this approach has a sense, because lots of volunteers have turned out,” MP Givi Targamadze said, adding that a relevant legislative proposal will be now be submitted to the Parliament.
He also said, that the August, 2008 war taught “us tough but useful” lesson and “we rejected pre-war system of reserve troops”, which was focused on size. “Now the focus is made on quality. Active reserve, those people which have at least minimal military experience, will be used first and foremost and the rest will be built on this bulk [of experienced reservists],” he said.
In the same remarks on April 11, President Saakashvili also said, that combined with local defense industry, the strong and efficient reserve troops and the armed forces were key for “contain an aggressor - and we all know that in Georgia’s case there is only one aggressor.”
Saakashvili was speaking during a televised meeting with the staff of a state-run factory in Tbilisi, which is part of the Defense Ministry’s research center Delta in charge of development of country’s defense industry.