Georgia said Tuesday it had doubled the number of troops deployed to fight with Nato-led forces in Afghanistan to over 1,500 as the ex-Soviet state’s new government continues its bid to join the alliance. Georgia now has 1,570 troops serving there, making the small Caucasus country of 4.5 million people the largest non-Nato contributor to the Afghanistan mission, the defence ministry said.
“Currently two battalions of the Georgian armed forces, 1,570 servicemen, are deployed in Afghanistan,” Defence Minister Irakli Alasania said in comments released by his office as he returned from a visit to Afghanistan. “Our participation in the (Nato-led) mission proves that Georgia is an important provider of international security,” he said. Georgia is also willing to continue deploying troops to assist local security forces after the Nato-led combat mission formally ends in 2014, the ministry said.
The first official visit of the Minister of Defense of Georgia Irakli Alasania to Afghanistan is finished. The purpose of the visit was to visit the Georgian military contingent involved in the international ISAF mission. While being in Afghanistan Alasania also met with senior officials of the NATO-led international mission, as well as the local authorities.
At the end of the visit, the minister met with his Afghan counterpart Bismillah Khan Muhammadi and President Hamid Karzai. According to Alasania, Georgian peacekeepers will remain in Afghanistan after completion of the mission in 2014 and assist the Afghan National Security Forces.
While many NATO countries are rushing for the door in Afghanistan, Georgia has been the only country to commit more troops to the mission this year, doubling its contribution in Helmand Province. By some estimates, this makes Georgia the largest per capita troop-contributing nation in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).