Defence Today

Issue #594

30.12.11 - 12.01.12

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Rugby Team “Armia” Successful Debut

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The ongoing year turned up to be quite successful for Defence Ministry rugby team “Armia”. Thus, the team is newly created “Armia” finished its debut season with big achievements and showed the best results within the ongoing championships. “Armia” players gained all Champion titles.

“Armia” - the Super League Winner

Within the Super League tournament Defence Ministry rugby team “Armia’ became a Champion of Georgia. On November 5, in the Final match “Armia” played against “Aia” Kutaisi. The match was quite interesting and tense. In the first period Kutaisi rugby team had noticeable advantage but in the second period “Armia” mobilized itself and finished the game in its favor by the score 29:22. From the “Armia” team two tries were grounded by Giorgi Tkhilaishvili and Giga Gagoshvili.

“Armia” – the Georgian Cup Holder

After gaining the title of Super League Champion, Georgian Defence Rugby team “Armia” made a double and became the Georgian Cup winner on November 26.  The last match of the ongoing season between “Armia” and “Kochebi” was held on “Avchala” stadium. The entire game went on with the superiority of “Armia” players. They grounded two balls against the rival team. The Final match ended with the victory of “Armia” by the score 26:16.

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2011 Season of Basketball Club “Armia”

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The 2011 season became very successful for “Armia”. The basketball club gained all titles of Georgian tournaments.

“Armia”- Georgian Cup Winner

On the 1st of February “Armia” became the winner of the ninth Georgian Basketball Cup. In the final match, which was organized in Tbilisi Sports Palace, with difference of 20 points “Armia” defeated the team of Ministry of Internal Affairs by the score 71:51 and became the owner of the first title. The Final was quite tense and spectacular. “Armia” player Giorgi Sharabidze became the best shooter and Anatoly Berishvili became the best player of the competition.

“Armia” – Super League Cup Champion

After the title of Georgian Cup Champion the Basketball team “Armia” gained a title of Super League Cup. The Final match was held on May 24, where “Armia” beat “TSU” by the score of 65:61. During the interesting and decisive match, Giorgi Sharabidze (securing 16 points to the team) and Davit Sakvarelidze (securing 14 points to the team) showed the best play among the “Armia” players. In the tournament, in which the Final matches continued until one of the teams gained three victories, “Armia” won 3-1. At the awarding ceremony the “Armia” players were provided with medals and the Super League Cup.

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Open Day – “Agile Spirit 2011”

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On July 22, the opening day of the military exercise “Agile Spirit 2011” was held at the Vaziani Training Area.

The combined military exercise code named “Agile Spirit 2011”, with the participation of U.S. Marines and the 4th Infantry Brigade of the Georgian Armed Forces, began on July 18.

The focus of the exercise was to increase interoperability between the Georgian and US forces and exchange and enhance each other’s capability in counterinsurgency and peacekeeping operations.

The Defence Minister of Georgia Bacho Akhalaia, the U.S. Ambassador to Georgia John R. Bass, and other representatives of the Diplomatic Corps attended the military exercise.

Ambassador Bass briefed those attending on the importance of strengthening the bilateral cooperation between the two countries: “I am pleased to be here to participate in this distinguished visitors’ portion of the exercise. This is an important part of our ongoing defence cooperation between the United States and Georgia. Today, for this period of the exercise- for these two weeks- we have US marines training alongside Georgian soldiers and also helping train Georgian soldiers for the types of mission that frankly both sets of soldiers are going to be experiencing in Afghanistan. It is fully consistent with our commitment to support the deployment, training and success of Georgia in the coalition in Afghanistan and to address the common challenges that we are facing there to help stabilize Afghanistan and to defeat the Taliban and to bring the stability in that region and in the world.”

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Sachkhere Mountain Training School

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The First Deputy Minister of Defence, Nodar Kharshiladze, visited Sachkhere Mountain Training School on July12. Along with the Ambassador of France to Georgia, Erik Furnie, the Deputy Minister opened the PfP (Partnership for Peace) status board. Sachkhere Mountain Training School received PfP status several months ago. Thus, new standard training courses will be launched there in summer and autumn.

While visiting Sachkere Military base the guests were briefed on the development process and scheduled trainings at the school.

Under PfP status, the school will train the military units of NATO and its partner countries’ armed forces. In September, the instructors of Mountain Training School will conduct the mountain training basic summer course for the military servicemen of NATO countries. The central part of the course consists of the practical exercises. Its aim is to provide soldiers with basic mountaineering skills and enable them to master operating in a mountain environment.  The exercise will be conducted in English and the students will be provided with the appropriate mountaineering equipment during training.

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Military Exercise “Vaziani 2011”

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The task-oriented field exercise “Vaziani 2011” was held on Vaziani firing range. The military exercise involved various units of the Georgian Armed Forces.

The goal of the field exercise was to improve the interoperability of the combined forces in defensive combat and to streamline command and control in the subordinate units.

The military training included four phases. The first two phases included preparation period and field tactical exercises. The third phase of the excises – battalion-level field-tactical training – was held on April 30.

A special program was developed for the military exercise. According to the program scenario, the major aim of the exercise was to prevent the enemy from gaining a bridgehead for the main forces and from developing its offensive further.

“Vaziani 2011” was a large-scale exercise participated in by the aviation, infantry, artillery, engineering and tank units of the Georgian Armed Forces. In total, the field exercise involved 678 military servants and 79 various pieces of military equipment.

The exercise was commanded by the Deputy Chief of JS of GAF, LTC Giorgi Kalandadze, responsible to report to the Supreme-Commander of GAF, Mikheil Saakashvili, Defence Minister Bacho Akhalaia and Chief of JS of GAF, Gen.-Maj. Devi Chankotadze.

President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili attended the military exercise with his younger son Nikoloz. He congratulated Georgian military servicemen on the Georgian Armed Forces Anniversary: “I would like to congratulate you on the successful completion of this military exercise. Today we have witnessed once more that in spite of the effort of our opponent forces to demolish our Armed Forces, demoralize our combat personnel – our officers, our soldiers, our corporals, our sergeants – we have managed to maintain their combat spirit and strength, but also managed to continue and hasten the modernization process recently. We don’t have any illusions about who is our enemy. Of course, the rival is hypothetical in each exercise. But all of us know very well who intervened in Georgia, who is occupying certain Georgian territories, who has further aggressive plans towards Georgia. You all know quite well that you are the main defenders of Georgia. Of course, when a country is in trouble and under attack, each citizen becomes a soldier; each citizen becomes a protector of his motherland. But you are the major front and decisive line of our defence, the most important guarantor of the country’s future.

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Open Day - Viking 2011

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In the frame of NATO Partnership for Peace Program (NATO/PfP) Georgia hosted the exercise VIKING 2011 in April.

The aim of the exercise was to deepen cooperation, interoperability and credibility between NATO/PfP countries’ military, civilian, international and non-governmental organizations.

VIKING 2011 was conducted virtually through a computer assisted simulation network. The main purpose of the training was to improve cooperation during peace support and crisis response operations.

The organizers of the exercise created special software for the gaming. According to the scenario, through peace support operations, coalition forces were trying to achieve peace in an invented country, “Bogaland”. The situation was very close to reality. Events and incidents were modeled on current conflict environments (Africa and Central Asia).

In VIKING 2011, the participants, both military and civilians, represent 24 nations. The main organizer of the training was the Swedish Kingdom. The main headquarters were located in Sweden, with brigade-level HQs functioning in Georgia, Austria, Germany, Ireland and Ukraine.

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National Defence Academy of Georgia

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The National Defence Academy was recently opened by the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Georgian Armed Forces, Mikheil Saakashvili. The President of Georgia called the new military educational institution a symbol of the country’s revival.

“The invader, which intervened in Georgia three-years ago, annihilated this military base. We however, have restored the base and have built an even better military academy- one similar to which Georgia has never had throughout its history,” said Saakashvili.

“Our country is in a very difficult geopolitical situation,” added the President. “There are not enough fingers to count all the invaders who thought throughout Georgia’s history that they had invaded this land and extinguished the existence of Georgia. Furthermore, many of the empires which invaded Georgia [have since] disappeared. But Georgia turned out to be eternal,” the president continued. “As long as Georgia is alive, we will have the necessity to protect our country and therefore the necessity to have armed forces”, President Saakashvili said.

Saakashvili noted that several kilometers from Gori the occupying Russian Army set up a military foothold in Georgia. “But let’s take a broader look… This place is the heart of Georgia,” he said.

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Cadets Military Lyceum

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The Cadets Military Lyceum began its new academic year on September 15. The military institution began the academic year with several new innovations. This year the cadets will study a third foreign language (Turkish) along with other standard compulsory foreign languages (English and Russian). Second and third-year cadets will also undergo a TOEFEL program.

The period to obtain and submit the required documents for entrance into the Lyceum Academy was from June 16 to July 4. After successfully finishing the basic educational phase (IX grade) in general educational institutions, 769 students applied to the Lyceum. After undergoing medical examinations, only 618 perspective students made it to the final entrance phase. Out of 618 applicants, 110 students were selected on the basis of the testing results, conducted in two stages - physical preparation and logical aptitude skills. For the 2011-2012 academic years, a total of 352 will receive their education at the academy.

The educational process at the Cadets Military Lyceum is carried out on the basis of the National Curriculum developed by the Ministry of Education and Science and an additional military program. In parallel with the general educational program, additional military disciplines are also taught at the Lyceum; these include fire, tactical, engineer, physical and drilling preparation, topography-navigation, first medical aid, humanitarian law on armed conflicts and military history.  In order to achieve an effective educational process, seven departments in each curriculum have been created in the Cadets Military Lyceum.

The Cadets Military Lyceum is a kind of boarding house providing the cadets with adequate accommodation, nutrition, medical service and textbooks. Upon graduation the students will be awarded with certificates of secondary education.

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Georgian Defence and Security Conference

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The Georgian Defence and Security Conference opened at the “Radisson Blu Iveria” Hotel on October 27. Georgian and international representatives discussed the new challenges within the global security sphere, the ongoing defence reforms in Georgia and the achieved progress at the conference organized by the Ministry of Defence of Georgia. The conference is an important forum for discussion of defence and security issues. The Georgian governmental and non-governmental organizations, the parliamentary majority, representatives from opposition parties, experts, high ranking officials from international organizations, the defence counterparts of partner countries and the diplomatic corps accredited to Georgia attended the conference.

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Defence Minister attended NATO meeting

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Bacho Akhalaia, Georgia’s Defence Minister attended the NATO Defence Ministerial Meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) in NATO HQ, Brussels, on March 10-11. The meeting was opened by the NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

The meeting was open to non-Nato ISAF-contribution nations, and saw defence ministers from across the Afghan mission discuss ways of securing stability in the war-torn country and outline plans for the future.

At the opening of the meeting, Rasmussen offered his condolences to the families and loved ones of the ISAF and Afghan soldiers who have been killed or injured in Afghanistan. He told those in attendance that it is thanks to the courage and selfless sacrifice of those who have lost their lives, that considerable progress has been achieved by the coalition forces: “We are putting great pressure on the insurgency and are taking away many of the safe havens that they have relied upon. This has helped to create a safer and more secure environment in many parts of Afghanistan. Our strategy is working”, declared Rasmussen. He thanked the Afghan national security forces for their close partnership and confirmed that they are ready to gradually assume the lead responsibility for the security of their nation and their people.

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NATO Defence Ministerial in Brussels

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Georgian Defence Minister Bacho Akhalaia attended the NATO Defence Ministerial meeting. The North Atlantic Council (NAC) met at the level of defence ministers in Brussels, NATO HQ on June 8-9. Within the framework of the NATO Defence Ministerial, the meeting of the North Atlantic Council has been held in the NATO HQ with non-NATO ISAF contributing Nations. Throughout the meeting, defence ministers dealt with the ways of securing stability in Afghanistan and set out the future plans.

The defence meetings of the NAC at the level of defence ministers were opened by the NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. He began his opening remarks by paying tribute to the ISAF and Afghan forces that have been killed or injured in Afghanistan. “Afghanistan remains our largest operation and our key operational priority. And we are making progress, in particular in the areas of transition, training, and enabling the Afghans to take the lead,” NATO Secretary General said. According to Rasmussen, the Taliban are under pressure everywhere, including their former strongholds in Helmand and Kandahar provinces. Secretary General Rasmussen took the opportunity on behalf of the ISAF family to thank outgoing ISAF Commander General David Petraeus for his dedicated service and extraordinary leadership.  He thanked the General for showing firm commitment to the Alliance and the ISAF mission.

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Georgian Defence Conference

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The Georgian Defence Conference held in February in the city of Batumi, like its predecessors, sought to give interested parties the opportunity to discuss the existing security environment in Georgia and the ongoing defence reforms in its armed forced. At the Forum, organized by the Georgian Defence Ministry, a wide range of delegations from Georgia and foreign countries were given the opportunity to hold open discussions on new challenges in the global security sphere.

The conference has become a yearly tradition, and the number of delegates attending the event has grown year to year. This year, the conference was proud to welcome distinguished, high-ranking representatives from NATO, the USA and other partner countries, as well as members of the diplomatic corps. The list of the guests at the Conference also included representatives from Georgian governmental and non-governmental agencies, the parliamentary majority and opposition parties, and independent experts in the defence and security sphere.

Within the framework of the two-day conference, a range of important issues were discussed, including NATO after the Lisbon Summit, global security challenges, defence reforms, the Georgian reserve system and defence transformation and transparency. An emphasis was made on the new reserve and civil defence systems, and the Strategic Review Document renewed by Georgian Defence Ministry, which reports on progress on aspects of national security relating to defence, and outlines the Georgian Armed Forces plans for development up to 2015.

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Letter by General David H. Petraeus to Georgian Defence Minister Bachana Akhalaia

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His Excellency Bachana Akhalaia

Dear Excellency,

I greatly appreciate your Nation’s contributions to the NATO ISAF mission. The 31st (April-November 2010) and 32nd (November 2010-present) Georgian Battalions have been integral to the growing success of our efforts to improve security and stability, specifically in Nimruz and Helmand Provinces.

Your forces have been very successful in partnering with the Afghan National Security Force and with local Afghan Government leaders. Together they have conducted numerous operations and implemented many initiatives to increase security and stability. Your troopers’ effective interactions with the Afghan people have led to increased confidence in both ISAF and GIRoA security forces. As an example, the area where they operate is southern Musa Qaleh is now patrolled on foot, resulting in better relationships with the Afghan people. Your troopers are truly courageous in conducting these foot patrols, which place them at greater risk of insurgent attacks.

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Georgian Contingent on ISAF Mission

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Georgia is one of the largest contributors per capita to the ISAF military operation ongoing under the aegis of NATO in Afghanistan. Initially, up to 50 military servicemen were deployed in the peacekeeping mission in 2004, whose main duty there was to insure security during local presidential elections. Afterwards, from November 2009, in the town of Ghor province, Chaghcharan, the Georgian doctors have been performing peace mission in the province integrated in the Lithuanian contingent reconstruction group by 6 months rotation.

Since November 2009, first Georgian peacekeeping company was deployed in Kabul, Afghanistan to accomplish the mission there as a part of the French peace contingent at the military base “Warehouse” of the Regional Command’s HQs. According to the rotation principle, new company joins the NATO-led security operation in Afghanistan every 6 months.

Each Georgian Peace Company, going to deploy in Afghanistan, went through training courses at the Sachkhere Mountain-Training School in full compliance with NATO standards for two weeks. During the trainings the Georgian Armed Forces were specially prepared for counterinsurgency operations.

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“Didgori”

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“Didgori” is a newly created vehicle, just a few days old, though as its Georgian manufacturers say, it is already experienced. The Didgori combat vehicle has been designed by Georgians after a thorough study of comparable models throughout the world. After its design, it was tested according to international standards. Before its final formation, several test models were created. They were tested according to various parameters and the armor protection has also been checked several times. The Didgori combat vehicle is a multifunction armored personnel carrier that can also be used for intelligence purposes, convoy operations and moving on a battlefield. The Didgori is very maneuverable and fast, so it is very useful for Special Forces. According to information provided by its constructors, it is more protected than required by NATO STANAG II. This class provides protection from 7.62/54 type armor penetrable bullets, although the exact parameters of armor is kept secret. As for the bottom armor, it is created with the “sandwich” multi-layer system. It has three layers. The middle layer provides the possibility to keep off the blast wave in case of mine explosion. The other two layers protect the crew from fragmentation. The tires are armored as well. Each tire can resist up to ten shots. It has an extra layer of protection. Even if the tire is damaged, the vehicle can cover 50-60 kilometers at the speed of 80km/h. Several types of weapon systems can be mounted on the Georgian Didgori. At this stage, two kinds of vehicles are created. One is smaller with more maneuverability and another is larger in size. 7.62 mm “MINIGUN” systems also called “Volcanos” which provide a high rate of fire (12, 000 to 15, 000 rounds per minute) are mounted on one of them and a 12.7 mm machine-gun is mounted on the other.

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Military Parade 2011

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On the 26th of May, Independence Day was officially announced by the recorded voice of the prominent Georgian poet Akaki Tsereteli.

The military parade, which was dedicated to Georgia’s Independence Day, was commanded by the Chief of Joint Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces (GAF), Maj.-Gen. Devi Chankotadze.

Before the appearance of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Georgian Armed Forces Mikheil Saakashvili, the Chief of Joint Staff of the GAF gave the command for readiness for the military parade. He then reported to the Supreme Commander-in-Chief that the military personnel were lined-up, and then the president and the army greeted one another. Upon receiving the order, Georgia’s military personnel took “at ease” position. There was a minute of silence and then the president began his speech…

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Official Visits

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Visit to the Republic of Armenia

The Minister of Defence of Georgia Bacho Akhalaia paid an official visit to the Republic of Armenia on April 19. In the framework of the official visit he met with his Armenian counterpart Seyran Ohanyan and the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan. An expanded meeting was also held with the participation of the representatives of the Defence Ministries of Georgia and Armenia. The meeting was attended by the defence ministers, their deputies, the leadership of the Armed Forces and the heads of various departments.0 The main topics of discussion at the meeting were the ongoing defence reforms, participation in international missions and military education. The Georgian Defense Minister offered to share with his Armenian counterpart his ten years of experience participating in the international operations. He also informed his colleague about the plan to establish a regional training center in Georgia, where Georgian military servicemen, military units at the battalion level from Armenia, the countries of the Caucasus, the Black Sea and the central Asian regions will be trained in international operations. According to the statement of the Georgian Minister of Defense, the preparation of units by joint exercises will be more effective in terms of sparing time and financial resources in comparison to other European training centers. Bacho Akhalaia expressed his readiness to provide training to the Armenian military servicemen at Sachkhere Mountain Training School, which has been awarded the status of a NATO “Partnership for Peace” training and educational centre. 0The Armenian Defense Ministry showed the Georgian delegation the Vazgen Sarkisyan Military Institute and briefed them on the educational system of the military personnel and their living conditions.

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