Short Analysis of 2012 Military Events
27 December, 2012
Short Analysis of 2012 Military Events
Tapping
As far as the Georgian Army is concerned, the year of 2012 began with an important amendment of the law on Investigative Activities made by the Parliament in December 2011. Namely, Certain Ministries, including Defense Ministry, became entitled to copy communications channel databases on the needs basis. In simple terms, investigations department of Defense Ministry does not need to request permission from mobile or fixed phone line operators to access their communications databases. Georgian Special Services became able to
tap on any call database and instantly learn about the subject of the call and location and identity of the caller through Ministries’ own computer networks. The question of validity of using this newly-found power by the Defense Ministry had been answered after the Parliamentary elections at the end of the year when the new Defense Minister Irakli Alasania announced to the public that about 80% of undercover videos shot by the investigative service of his ministry under his predecessor was illegal missing court authorization. What is more, eavesdropping and spying belied political not military interests.
Alasania handed over all the videos shot year-round to MIA and proposed to have special eavesdropping devices administered by a single structure (certainly, not Defense Ministry) to simplify control. Interestingly, former bosses of Defense Ministry used to order illegal wiretapping on phone conversations of independent journalists working on military topics, including the author of the present article, in order to find excuses for accusing them of spying for Russia.

Military-technical collaboration of Georgia and United States
At the turn of this year, American President Barak Obama hosted Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and promised him to enhance Georgian defense capabilities in the framework of bilateral Strategic Partnership Charter. In autumn 2012, bilateral Georgian-American consultations repeatedly delved into details of how the United States would be extending help to Georgian militaries to strengthen primarily air defense capabilities and train and educate military specialists in military defense engineering. In other words, the January agreement of the two Presidents struck earlier this year has seen further consultations, analysis and assessments in November and December which are now giving way to the implementation phase.
The plan of the two countries in the defense sphere has 6 points and covers multiple topics such as the above said air defense and military engineering, revamping a support helicopter park, enhancing coastguard control, tactical level training of NCO and junior commander instructors and conducting HQ and brigade drills and educating them.

From Didgori to Lazika
The first Georgian armored vehicle Didgori was presented at the military parade on 26 May, 2011. The budding Georgian military industrial complex put more of its products on display on February-April, 2012. Later developments intensified suspicions that both President and the then Defense Minister were trying to gain access to hearts and minds of constituencies cheap by means of Didgori and Lazika publicity feats rather than caring to test and introduce these novelties in the Georgian Army as one should have expected. After all the new Government can develop the complex without haste and have Georgian instructors bring out their best.
ISAF and Georgian Servicemen in Afghanistan
In autumn 2012, the Georgian troops participating in ISAF operation in Afghanistan expanded to record 1600 militaries making Georgia the top contributor among non-NATO countries. The leader position has its downside too because probability of military losses has likewise skyrocketed.
By mid-December 2012, the number of Georgian casualties stood at 18 (actually, the better part of it falls on this single year), while the number of the wounded remains classified. Presumably, it goes into one hundred and beyond. After winning in the Parliamentary elections, leaders of the Georgian Dream did not revisit the decision of their political opponent President Saakashvili to send more reinforcement to the Georgian battalion stationed in Afghanistan. More to it, the new Defense Minister Irakli Alasania stated that the minimum salary of Georgian militaries participating in ISAF would be raised from 700 up to 1000 US dollars.
So, it seems the new Georgian Authorities will not abandon ISAF till at least 2014 and are likely to stay beyond that date in the different format (e.g. as military instructors).

Two former Defense Ministers in a prison cell, the third one in the United States
Today the Georgian Army is in the unique situation. Two Defense Ministers – Irakli Okruashvili and Bacho Akhalaia are inmates of the same prison and same floor, only the cells are different. The third former Defense Minister Dimitri Shashkin fled to the United States. The Okruashvili’s imprisonment resulted from the criminal charges brought against him by the former Authorities. In contrast, Akhalaia fell in disgrace of the new Authorities for alleged verbal and physical abuse of soldiers. It is so remarkable that these two former Ministers cannot stand even physical presence of each other. Certain western politicians including even NATO Secretary General censured the new Government for the arrest of the former Defense Minister and Chief of the United HQ. One is promoted to ask a question however. If a military officer in their country accused Defense Minister and Chief of HQ of beating him, what would happen to these two?! President Saakashvili still could not forego his stubbornness by refusing to appoint brigade General Vakhtang Kapanadze as Chief of United HQ. This is perhaps because Kapanadze was the candidacy of Defense Minister Irakli Alasania, a member of the PM Bidzina Ivanishvili’s team.
In 2012, a lot of things of political and military significance happened. But the most important is the partial change of the state power through the Parliamentary elections on 1 October, including complete overhaul of the Defense Ministry and HQ leadership. This seminal turnaround engendered much of hope that the Georgian Army which Nationalist Movement disengaged from the civil control and super-politicized would finally become much more open and closer to the public, the way it pertains to armed forces of the country with the NATO aspiration.
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