Georgia and ISAF
04 July, 2013
Georgia and ISAF
In about two months there have been two attacks on Georgian base in Afghanistan, Helmand province. As a result ten Georgian soldiers were killed. I feel ashamed that I knew nothing about ISAF (The International Security Assistance Force) before writing this article. Let me share some information about NATO ISAF mission. The ISAF mission is supporting the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, eliminating the risk of insurgency, supporting the improvements in governance and socio-economic development in order to
provide a secure environment for sustainable stability that is observable by the population. ISAF will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghan national security forces until transition completion at the end of 2014. Total strength of ISAF is 97 813 soldiers. The United States contribute approximately 68 000 soldiers. Next on the list are United Kingdom (8065), Germany (4400), Italy (3034), Poland (1741) and Georgia (1561). The numbers of troops should be taken as indicative as they change daily. I hope this brief information will help you to understand where we send our troops and with what objectives.

The New York Times dedicated an article to the Georgian soldiers killed in Afghanistan on the 6th of June. Helmand province, where Georgians have three bases, has been the deadliest province for troops of international coalition in Afghanistan, claiming at least 935 lives since 2001. Georgians have focused on keeping Taliban from setting up checkpoints on the main roads. However, that has not won the points with residents, and Georgians are not liked in those areas.
The author thinks that the language may be root of the problem as during 10 years the British and American had been assigned to those places and residents became familiar with English-speaking troops. Georgians are perceived as synonymous to Russians, who are still viewed as enemies. An elder from a village where Georgians have one of their bases says that soldiers do not know English and speak a Russian-sounding language. He also recalls a story when his car broke down and he was asked to take the car away, but he could not as he needed assistance for that. The language proved to be barrier, as two sides did not understand each other. He also said that Georgians carried out many unnecessary searches, stealing small items, like wristwatches and money (This is simply unbelievable for me personally!!! T.G.). Local Afghan officials confirmed the complaints of excessive searches, but Niamatullah Khan, the district chief of Musa Qala, pointed out that Georgians are responsible for safety in that region. He said that complaints, received last year have diminished, either because Georgians moderated their behavior or residents got used to them.
Sadly, many of us are not concerned and interested in NATO ISAF mission, unless there is a news story about casualties. I believe that topics like this should be of public interest. The questions like: ‘Why do Georgians have bases in the most dangerous province’ or ‘Why do our soldiers take part in difficult missions?’ and ‘Why is it justified to send to ISAF Georgian troops?’ have to be answered immediately. Before answering those questions think of those who died during the mission. They had families, they had plans for the future and dreams to fulfill, and it just takes a professional politician of a certain conviction to declare that this is done for our future, with the hope that someday we will be part of NATO. The bright future we are looking for can be simply fulfilled if all of us take our responsibilities seriously – the youngsters at schools and universities and the elderly at work. We hold future in our hands. We can fix any problem Georgia is facing if we think a little better. It will be a hard job but worth of trying.
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