The U.S. and Georgia have a strong and deepening defence relationship based on robust programs of cooperation, engagement and assistance. Bilateral defence cooperation contributes to enhancing Georgia’s ability to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity by improving its self-defence capabilities and whole-of government resilience capacity.
Development of Georgia-U.S. Bilateral Cooperation
While the United States recognized Georgia’s independence in 1992, cooperation in the defence sector began to strengthen after Georgia became a partner in combating terrorism in September 2001.
In 2002, the United States initiated the Georgia Train and Equip Program (GTEP) which aided Georgia’s security services in combating internal terrorism threats stemming 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 were designed to train and equip the 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 alongside with the U.S. forces.
On January 9, 2009, the U.S.-Georgia relations entered new phase when the Secretary of State and Georgian Foreign Minister signed United States-Georgia Charter on Strategic Partnership.
In the same period, another key pillar of U.S.-Georgia cooperation emerged which aimed at supporting Georgia’s participation in NATO-led missions. To this end, the Georgia Deployment Program (GDP-ISAF) was established in fall 2009. In 2015, GDP-ISAF was replaced by the GDP-Resolute Support Mission. Georgia was one of the largest non-NATO troop contributors to the Resolute Support Mission. The last remaining Georgian troops withdrew from Afghanistan in June 2021.
Main Cooperation Mechanisms
Based on the Memorandum on Deepening the Defence and Security Partnership of July 6, 2016 the U.S. Department of Defence and Georgian Ministry of Defence signed the Security Cooperation Framework (2016-2019) on December 6, 2016.
On November 21, 2019, the United States and Georgia updated the Security Cooperation Framework (2019-2022). The Georgia Defence Readiness Program (GDRP), the development of the NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Center (JTEC), and the Georgia Deployment Program -Resolute Support Mission (GDP-RSM) were highlighted as the major cooperation programs.
On October 18, 2021 during the visit of U.S. Secretary of Defence, Georgia and the U.S. signed a memorandum of understanding on Georgia Defence and Deterrence Enhancement Initiative (GDDEI), which builds on the demonstrated success of the Georgia Defence Readiness Program, and aims to enhance Georgia’s deterrence, territorial defence, resistance and resilience capacities; foster interoperability with NATO; and support institutional reform and modernization process.
Georgia Defence Readiness Program (GDRP)
In May 2018, Ministry of Defence of Georgia and the U.S. Department of Defence started the execution of the bilateral Georgia Defence Readiness Program which was completed in December 2021.
GDRP consisted of two simultaneous, complementary, program elements – GDRP-Training (GDRP-T), and GDRP-Institutional (GDRP-I).
GDRP improved not only the combat readiness of tactical level units (9 infantry battalions) but it also ensured the development of self-sustaining institutional capacity to man, train, equip, and sustain forces. The successful implementation of the program provided a basis for the Georgia Defence and Deterrence Enhancement Initiative (GDDEI).
The NATO-Georgia Joint Training and Evaluation Centre (JTEC) /Combat Training Center Development
In line with SCF, substantial investments have been made towards the development of JTEC which supports the GDF readiness development, facilitates the hosting of large-scale multinational exercises and offers NATO Allies and partners the opportunity for force-on-force training events in Georgia.
Georgia annually hosts and 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 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 exercise has been conducted since 2015 to exercise freedom-of-movement, demonstrate expeditionary capabilities, exercise tasks inherent to Georgian territorial defence, 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. SPP maintains a permanent presence in Georgia through the BAO, and helps build Georgia's defence capacity through a variety of military and civilian engagements.
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, mobile training teams provide specialized expertise on a variety of rehabilitative disciplines.
In 2019 Georgia finished constructing a new multifaceted rehabilitation facility which is a regional center of excellence for Wounded Warriors and their family members. This new facility is located on the territory of the Tserovani Maro Makashvili rehabilitation center and serves the wounded military personnel and their family members. This facility is funded with the support 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.
The U.S. Contribution to 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. was the lead Nation for the Logistics Initiative under SNGP which was successfully accomplished and closed in December 2020.
International Military Education and Training (IMET):
The international Military Education and Training program supports the process of retraining military and civilian personnel of the Ministry of Defence of Georgia. 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 for the Georgian MOD representatives to participate in security study programs as well as other courses.
Foreign Military Financing (FMF)
Georgia received over $445 million in FMF Since 1997. In 2022, Georgia received $35 million through FMF.
Funds from the Foreign Military Financing are being fully utilized and allocated to train and equipment programs and GDF capability development.