Minister of Defense on NATO training Center Opening in Georgia
06 February, 2015
Minister of Defense on NATO training Center Opening in Georgia
Exclusive Interview with Mindia Janelidze, Minister of Defense of Georgia

A head of the NATO Defence ministerial, Kviris Palitra spoke with Mindia Janelidze, Minister of Defense of Georgia:

"The training and assessment center that will begin functioning in Georgia will be unique because it will be the first one opened in a non-NATO country."

– How important was NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow’s visit to Georgia and is it true that Vaziani field was chosen as the NATO training
center’s location?

– Alexander Vershbow’s visit had political as well as practical meaning. Its political significance was in the new leadership of the North Atlantic Alliance sending a clear message to the people of Georgia that the alliance is moving to a new stage of cooperation with our country. The practical importance of the visit was expressed in as discussing the issues of implementing the package adopted at the Wales Summit, which includes the opening of a NATO joint training and assessment center.
Mr. Vershbow was shown several military units of the Tbilisi garrison, including the 4th Mechanized Brigade based in Vaziani. He also attended field exercises of the Georgian Army division.
It wouldn’t be right to claim today that Vaziani was chosen as the future center’s site because a NATO assessment group is arriving in Georgia in February to advise us on where to build it.

– What will the function of the NATO training center be? What will its infrastructure be like and what difference is there between such a center and an ordinary NATO military base?

– The primary goal of establishing such a center is to bring the Georgian Armed Forces’ potential closer to that envisioned by NATO standards. This long process began in 2011 with the training and equipment program and it still continues in order to make sure the Georgian Army is up to snuff.
The purpose of the center will be for carrying out joint exercises and for the objective assessment of the readiness of not only Georgian military units, but also those of other NATO member and partner countries.
Moreover, I’d also like to say that it isn’t a center for basic training, i.e. military personnel won’t start training there from scratch. It is meant for the merging of combat experience of already existing units. The center will be able to carry out the process of training and the assessment of battalion-level divisions during which the shortcomings of these units will be revealed. Data will be analyzed and strategies for rectifying shortcomings will be outlined.
The training and assessment center that will begin functioning in Georgia will be unique because it will be the first one opened in a non-NATO country.

"All the necessary expenses will presumably be covered by the state budget from the reserve fund. The amount will depend on the training center’s location."

– Will money required for the center’s construction be allocated by Georgia or the Alliance?

– At the Wales Summit our state took the responsibility of funding this center as well as other activities envisaged by the package from the Georgian budget. Despite the fact that the building of the center isn’t stipulated by the Defense Ministry’s budget, the necessary expenses will presumably be covered by the state budget from the reserve fund. The amount will depend on the training center’s location.
However, people should understand that the NATO training and assessment center is not a NATO military base. This center will have a restricted number (several dozen) high-level Georgian and foreign military instructors whose main task will be to organize and assess training. The main function of a military base, on the other hand, is carrying out military actions, which will by no means be assigned to this center.
I’d like to specify why it is difficult to choose the location for the future center. We want almost every corps: infantry, motorized units, artillery, sappers, reconnaissance units, and air force to undergo training at this center. For this reason, the place should carefully be chosen together with our partners.

– What initiatives will be presented by the Georgian delegation at the NATO Defence Ministerial and what do you expect from it?

– The main issue at the Brussels’ ministerial will be the process of implementation of the essential package adopted at the Wales Summit. Besides Georgia, delegations of Alliance member countries also participated in this process and we are looking forward to other offers. At the ministerial, special attention will be paid to bilateral meetings, because there are many resources not yet utilized during such relations. Utilizing these resources will enable us to increase the defense potential of Georgia and deepen political as well military-technical cooperation.

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