US instructors training Georgian special forces to leave for Iraq
American Army specialists who train Georgian soldiers in the network of the program “Train and Equip” will soon be replaced by the US Marine Corps. A source in the US Embassy to Georgia informed on Monday: “The change of instructors is provided by the schedule; starting with January, US Marines will train another anti-terrorist battalion of the four battalions trained by the US instructors. This will be a mountain rifle battalion.” According to the source, the training of the first “Commandos” battalion by the US instructors is almost completed; newly trained soldiers are to be turned out on December 15.
During the NATO summit in Prague, the Georgian president informed his American colleagues of the results of the special operation held by the Georgian military structures in the Pankissi Gorge. He told George W. Bush that “the Pankissi problem is practically settled in fact.” He said, a small group of criminal experts is currently working in the Pankissi Gorge. At that, Eduard Shevardnadze assured the US president that “the bandits who still remain in the gorge are not Chechens and pose no great threat to law enforcement authorities.”
However, Americans are not interested in the the fate of “fugitive criminals.” The US special services are more worried about the possibility of al-Qaeda terrorists, who are at the same time on the international wanted list, taking refuge in Georgia. This is the problem for the Georgian leadership to think thoroughly about; otherwise, Georgia’s dreams of joining the NATO gang will be postponed. At present, Georgia will cooperate with NATO in accordance with a special program that will lead to Georgia’s entry sometime in the future.
NATO won’t confine itself to Georgia only; the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan may become members of the alliance in the future. All of the above-mentioned republics, as well as others, are members of the NATO program “Partnership For Peace.” Certainly, at present, the entry of these countries into NATO is out of the question, as none of them meets the basic criteria of NATO membership. Armed conflicts still go on in several of the former Soviet republics. Let’s take Georgia for instance; some of them (Azerbaijan and Armenia) are in a severe confrontation, and the military structures of these republics are far from the NATO military standards.
Dmitry Chirkin PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://world.pravda.ru/world/2002/5/73/208/3478_Gruzia.html
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