The Ministry of Defence of Georgia states that the article “US training could target Russia” written by Associated Press Pentagon reporter Lara Jakes on August 21, 2009, misconstrues a comment made by Vasil Sikharulidze, Minister of Defence of Georgia, on the issue of the training to be provided by the US side to the Georgian military contingent to be sent to Afghanistan.
Minister Sikharulidze addressed the general point that any training raises the professional level of the Georgian Armed Forces.
According to a transcript provided by AP Pentagon reporter Lara Jakes, during the interview, Georgian Defence Minister Vasil Sikharulidze said, “By being part of the multinational forces we are getting serious experience which will be very useful for Georgian Armed Forces, for their training.” He also underlined that “This experience will be important for the Georgian Armed Forces itself.”
In a statement made later, Sikharulidze said, “The US training planned for the Georgian battalions to be deployed in Afghanistan is targeted on acquiring the skills and experience needed for Georgian military personnel to carry out their missions under ISAF operation effectively and with the minimum risk of casualties.
“At the same time, the development of military skills needed for homeland defence remains top defence priority and the Georgian armed forces are already going through our own training programs planned for this year for enhancing critical defensive capabilities.
“Let me also underline that Georgian Government follows exclusively peaceful policy for de-occupation of the Georgian territory from the Russian aggressors, which envisages wider and more robust international engagement.”
The Ministry has already contacted the Associated Press to request publication of a clarification.