Georgia and the United States enjoy a rich and comprehensive partnership. While the United States recognized Georgia’s independence in 1992, defence cooperation began to strengthen when Georgia became a partner in combating terrorism in September 2001.
Since then, the U.S. and Georgia have a strong and deepening defence relationship. Bilateral cooperation significantly supports defence reforms, and modernization process, improves Georgia’s defence capabilities and interoperability with NATO and coalition forces.
Development of Georgia-U.S. Bilateral Cooperation
In 2002 the United States initiated the Georgia Train and Equip Program (GTEP) which provided Georgia’s security services with assistance in securing internal terrorism threats from rebels in the lawless, mountainous border region of the Pankisi Gorge.
In 2005 GTEP evolved into the Georgian Sustainment and Stability Programs (SSOP and SSOP II), which trained and equipped Georgian forces and command staff for peace support operations in Iraq.
Since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), by August 2008, 7800 Georgian soldiers had served in Iraq along with the U.S. forces.
Following the Russia-Georgia War in August 2008, the U.S. European Command implemented a comprehensive assessment of the Georgian Defence Forces. Based on the outcome of the assessment bilateral cooperation became focused on development of the defence institutions, assisting defence sector reform and building strategic and educational foundations that would facilitate necessary training, education, and rational force structure design and procurement.
This approach provided the framework for the development of the United States-Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership signed by Secretary of State and Georgian Foreign Minister on January 9, 2009.
As an immediate consequence of the Strategic Partnership, the U.S. assistance contributed to a number of significant achievements including:
- Completion of the Strategic Defence Review 2010-2014;
- Publication of a new National Military Strategy;
- Implementation of key Military Personnel Management System initiatives;
- Structural reorganization of GAF.
Progress was also made in professional military education, including:
- Development of National Defence Academy featuring award of a Bachelor Officer Program;
- Establishment of the Georgian Simulations Training Center;
- Development of a Georgian Command and Staff Training Course.
Moreover, another key pillar for the U.S. cooperation emerged to support Georgia’s participation in NATO-led missions. To this end, Georgia Deployment Program (GDP-ISAF) was established which began in fall 2009. In 2014 GDP-ISAF was replaced by GDP-Resolute Support Mission.
Georgia is currently one of the largest troop contributors and the number one per capita force contributor to RSM with 870 currently deployed on the ground.
Main Cooperation Mechanisms
On July 6, 2016, the Memorandum on Deepening the Defence and Security Partnership was signed. Based on this, on December 6, 2016, Georgia and the U.S. signed a multi-year (3 years) framework agreement on security cooperation for 2016-2019. The document signaled a new level in the U.S.-Georgia defence and security cooperation by improving the bilateral planning processes from short to mid term and concentrating efforts on developing Georgia’s Defence Forces combat readiness and self-sustaining institutional systems.
Georgia Defence Readiness Program (GDRP)
In the first half of 2016 Ministry of Defence of Georgia and the U.S. Department of Defence started consultation on launching a training/advisory program to improve combat readiness and further develop a self-sustaining institutional capacity to man, train, equip, and sustain a force prepared to accomplish assigned national missions. As a result Georgia Defence Readiness Program was established and approved.
GDRP consists of two simultaneous, complementary, program elements – GDRP-Training (GDRP-T), and GDRP-Institutional (GDRP-I). GDRP-I is an ongoing effort. Execution of GDRP-T will commence in May 2018.
Combat Training Center Development
In parallel of the GDRP, with the financial and practical support of the U.S. Georgia is developing an integrated live, virtual, and constructive Combat Training Center that provides Georgia with organic, self-sustaining capacity to train and evaluate units.
Georgia annually participates in several U.S.-led exercises. Notably, the two major U.S.-Georgia multinational exercises conducted in Georgia are AGILE SPIRIT and NOBLE PARTNER.
AGILE SPIRIT training exercise has been conducted since 2011 to exercise freedom-of-navigation, help develop the Georgian Defence Forces capability and interoperability, and foster development of training capacity in West Georgia.
NOBLE PARTNER training exercise has been conducted since 2015 to exercise freedom-of-movement, demonstrate expeditionary capabilities, exercise tasks inherent to Georgian territorial defense, and build combined land force capabilities and interoperability.
State Partnership Program (SPP) and Bilateral Affairs Office (BAO)
State Partnership Program (SPP) with the State of Georgia was one of the first mechanisms providing immense support to the Georgian Defence Forces in terms of education as well as with material means since 1994. The State Partnership Program is not only concentrated on National Guard capability development, but also encompasses assistance in such critical areas as logistics, cyberspace operations, disaster preparedness, legal, medical, inspector general, rotary wing capability development, and family readiness programs. The Georgia National Guard conducts familiarization and training events focused on EUCOM objectives, participates in Georgia’s major exercises, and supports Humanitarian Civil Assistance projects.
Georgian Wounded Warrior and Building Partner Capacity in Amputee Care-Georgia (BAC-G) Program
Another direction of the partnership is in the form of developing capabilities for treating wounded, ill and injured militaries. The Georgian Wounded Warrior and BAC-G program was established to provide an integrated, interdisciplinary rehabilitation program for Georgia’s Wounded Warriors.
In support of the program, the U.S. finances the presence of a permanent DoD civilian who advises the Ministry of Defence on program development via the DSCA Minister of Defence Advisor (MoDA) program. Additionally, mobile training teams provide specialized expertise on a variety of rehabilitative disciplines.
In 2018 Georgia will start constructing a new multifaceted rehabilitation facility to provide a regional center of excellence for Wounded Warriors and their family members. This new facility will be located on the territory of the Tserovani Maro Makashvili rehabilitation center and will serve the wounded military personnel and their family members. This facility is funded with the help of U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF).
NATO Response Force
In 2013, the U.S. and Georgia mutually agreed to enhance Georgia’s ongoing efforts at NATO interoperability. Since then the U.S. has been sponsoring Georgia’s infantry company contribution to NRF.
Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP)
The U.S. provides the Co-Deputy Team leader of the SNGP Core Team, via the Ministry of Defence Advisory Program, who is responsible for overall coordination and monitoring of the implementation of the SNGP initiatives. In addition, the U.S. is the lead Nation for the Logistics Initiative under SNGP and has been providing resident adviser. The Georgian Defence Forces successfully achieved all of the Logistics Initiative objectives allowing the closure of the initiative by Spring/Summer of 2018.
Year of Logistics
The Ministry of Defense named 2018 the "Year of Logistics" to help prioritize multi-year logistics initiatives. This was affirmed during the U.S.-Georgia Bilateral Defense Consultations (BDC) in October 2017 with Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) Laura Cooper (OSD-P RUE), and will be incorporated into the new security cooperation framework currently in development. The U.S. will support the implementation of the GAF's logistics action plan through additional engagements, training, and exercises.
International Military Education and Training (IMET):
In the framework of International Military Education and Training program the process of retraining Georgian Defence Forces military and civilian personnel has begun. The program embodies high level as well as intermediate and beginner level preparatory courses for commissioned officers and sergeants.
Combating Terrorism Fellowship Program (CFTP):
Combating Terrorism Fellowship Program annually sponsors high level courses both at the U.S. National Defence University and National War College, as well as short term courses specifically offered to the Special Operations Forces’ personnel.
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies:
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies annually offers slots in respect of security study program as well as other courses.
Advisory teams from CUBIC Defence Applications Inc., financed by the U.S. FMF provide valuable assistance to the Ministry of Defence of Georgia and Defence Forces in defence transformation, development of Command and General Staff Course and supporting and maintaining simulations capabilities at JTEC.
Foreign Military Financing (FMF)
Georgia received over $239 million in FMF Since 1997. In 2017 Georgia FMF budget was
Funds from the Foreign Military Financing are being fully utilized and allocated to training and equipment programs and defence forces capability development.