Georgia a Significant Contributor in Afghanistan

Stars and Stripes, an information agency for the U.S. military community, has reported on Georgian Soldiers on the ground from Bagram Air Field.

“The tiny country of Georgia now has the second-largest contingent of foreign troops after the U.S. in the NATO-led military mission in Afghanistan – more than Britain, Germany and Italy,” the online publication reported.

According to the publication, since the U.S. and its allies reduced their force numbers in Afghanistan from 57,000 in January 2014 to the current level of 13,000, small countries, many of them former Soviet states or satellites, are providing proportionately larger shares of troops than the larger NATO countries that once provided thousands of troops.

“The presence of troops from 42 countries, no matter how small the number – Iceland contributes two personnel – sends an important message to the Afghans, said German Army Lt. Gen. Frank Leidenberger, who serves as chief of staff for Operation Resolute Support, as the current coalition military mission in Afghanistan is known.”

The small countries play a key role according to Leidenberger.

“They make a significant contribution in terms of numbers and in terms of the risk they are willing to take doing ground defense.”

It was Georgian soldiers who were on the first patrol out of the gate at Bagram Air Field on December 22nd, less than 24 hours after a suicide bomber killed six American troops near the base.

Georgia, a country of nearly 5 million people, has 870 troops in Afghanistan, while Romania is now the fifth-largest troop contributor with 650 troops. Mongolia has 120 troops doing often risky work around the base defense near the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Even Iceland, which has no standing army, has two personnel pitching in for Resolute Support’s media and women’s rights campaigns.

In Georgia’s case, Russia may have inadvertently pushed the country to keep a robust presence in Afghanistan. Georgia fought a brief but disastrous war against Russia in 2008 and sees eventual NATO membership as an important security goal.  

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08 January 2016 12:22