by Salome Jashi in Vaziani
“Cooperative Best Effort 2002, here in Georgia, provides concrete evidence that the alliance and its partner nations are both committed to working together to build a common house within which all of us can live in relative peace and security, side-by-side”, General Oktar Ataman, Commander of NATO’s Joint Command Southeast, stated at the opening ceremony of the exercise Cooperative Best Effort 2002.
Drills in the frames of NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) Program officially started at Camp Vaziani, close to Tbilisi, on June 17 and will last until June 28. Georgia hosts up to 800 military personnel of 6 member and 9 partner countries. Squads of all the nations were present at the opening ceremony.
Vaziani hosts squads of Canada, Greece, Hungary, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America (NATO nations) as well as Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Moldova, Romania and Ukraine (partner nations). The band played 15-second parts of the national anthems of each country while the sun was already leaning west.
Even though Russian Federation agrees to integrate with the NATO it does not participate in the exercise in Georgia. Russian troops left Vaziani military base in summer last year, leaving, as Georgian officials say, the base in destruction. It is now rehabilitated and modernized with assistance of Turkey. Exercise Cooperative Best Effort 2002 (CBE 02) is the main annual NATO/PfP land live exercise of the Southern Region.
The aim of the exercise at Camp Vaziani is to enhance military interoperability at individual and small unit level through improving and exchanging light infantry skills in Peace Support Operations. Exercise Cooperative Best Effort 2002 is based on a fictitious, UN-mandated, NATO-led peace support operations scenario providing a realistic backdrop for the troops on the ground, thereby allowing them to perform the fundamental tasks regularly executed in peace support missions.
This is the second time the military exercise under PfP is held in Georgia. Last year, Georgia’s Black Sea port of Poti hosted cooperative Partner exercises – the first NATO/PfP exercise in the Caucasus region. “And the main achievement is that we are now standing here and witnessing the continuity of the process – the process of the global cooperation and further integration of Georgian Armed Forces with the NATO’s and Partner Nations Armed Forces, using the Partnership for Peace as a good and reliable tool”, Gen Lt. David Tevzadze, Georgia’s Defense Minister, pointed out at the opening ceremony on June 17.
Defense Ministry of Georgia provided 1 million Lari for the exercise. “This money is not wasted since it strengthens Georgia’s ties with NATO and the whole Western community”, Lt Col. Irakli Batkuashvili of the Georgian Army, Exercise Co-director, pointed out the initial press conference on June 15. By the way, this would be the first time when a Georgian officer would command the multinational exercise.
Each participating country had to finance its own squads. Because of financial shortcomings Ukrainian has to attend the exersice as observer only. The soldiers will be divided into national squads and will form a multinational battalion. CBE 02 will involve both a field training exercise and a humanitarian assistance operation.
Multinational medical group of up to 20 people will provide humanitarian aid to the local population nearby Camp Vaziani. According to Col Serge Labbe of the Canadian Army, Exercise Co-director, the drills were planned years ago thus they have no link with any on-going events in the world that is war against terror.
“It is not excluded that the multinational troops trained here may be involved in the peacekeeping process in Georgian-Abkhazian conflict zone later on”, Tedo Japaridze, Secretary of the Georgian National Council, told Civil Georgia at the opening ceremony in Vaziani.
Related story: Vaziani Base Opens with Turkish Assistance