Rumsfeld Comments on Georgia Train-and-Equip Program
“Georgia has been a friend, a partner in the war on terrorism and in promoting peace and stability in the region,” US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld stated at the news briefing on May 1.
Defense Secretary said that the Georgia Train-and-Equip Program [GTEP] is just in the process of starting. “The program that we’re undertaking thus far has a very small number of people,” US Defense Department [DOD] press service reports quoting Donald Rumsfeld.
“But it does underscore the growing security ties between our two countries and our support for their sovereignty and their independence, and just — not to say our concern and interest in the global war on terrorism,” Donald Rumsfeld stated.
On April 29 the US Special Operations Command Europe [SOCEUR] site survey team of approximately 20 people arrived in Georgia to coordinate GTEP logistical requirements. The team will prepare arrival of the main group of US military trainers in Georgia in May.
Rumsfeld said that DOD will be training Georgian military, border guard and other security services [up to 2,000 Georgian soldiers] “to help develop their counterterrorism capabilities and their ability to address the terrorist problem in the Pankisi gorge”.
At the news briefing on May 2 representatives of the SOCEUR site survey team stated that initial program will consist of command center staff training for members of the Georgian Ministry of Defense and in June training of Georgian anti-terrorist battalions will start.
SOCEUR representatives say that US military instructors’ mission in Georgia is only to train security units and they will not interfere in Georgia’s internal affairs.
“Our country will be helping to train Georgian battalions in light infantry tactics, platoon-level offensive and defensive operations, and individual combat skills. The program will also involve the transfer of some military equipment to Georgia,” US Defense Secretary stated.
The military equipment includes small arms and ammunition, communications gear, training equipment, medical equipment, fuel and some construction materials.
The United States allocates USD 64 million in the GTEP. The USA will carry out inspections and audits to ensure that the assistance is used for its intended purpose.
Georgian Parliament ratified “the Agreement on the Exchange of Notes Concerning the Cooperation Plan for the Implementation of the Joint US-Georgian Train-and-Equip Program”, ratified by the Georgian Parliament on April 12.
According to the agreement Georgia undertakes responsibility not use the US trained armed units against its commitments under stipulations of the international agreements. This means that anti-terrorist units will not be used in the conflict zones of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.