Thanks to regular participation in PfP training and exercises, Georgia has been able to contribute actively to Euro-Atlantic security by supporting NATO-led operations. Georgian troops worked alongside NATO troops in the peacekeeping operation in Kosovo from 1999 to 2008, providing a company-sized unit as part of the German brigade there and an infantry platoon within a Turkish battalion task force.
Georgia is currently providing two infantry battalions serving with US forces in Helmand Province, an infantry platoon serving with the US contingent in Kabul, and a number of staff officers serving at various locations. With over 1,500 military personnel, Georgia is currently the largest contributor to ISAF among NATO’s partner countries. Furthermore, Georgia is ready to continue to serve as a transit country for ISAF supplies.
Georgia has also indicated its willingness to participate in the post-2014 NATO-led mission to train, advise and assist the Afghan forces, which will be deployed once the transition to Afghan security lead has been completed and ISAF’s operation is terminated. The Georgian government has also pledged financial support for the future development of the Afghan National Security Forces.
Georgia participates in NATO’s Operation Active Endeavour, a counter-terrorist maritime surveillance operation in the Mediterranean, primarily through intelligence exchange. It also has a mountain training site, which is accredited as a Partnership Training and Education Centre and offers courses and training to Allies and other partner countries.
Defence and security sector reform
NATO is supportive of the wide-ranging democratic and institutional reform process underway in Georgia, as outlined in its ANP. Particularly in the area of defence and security sector reform, NATO and individual Allies have considerable expertise upon which Georgia can draw.
Georgia’s participation in the PARP since 1999 has helped develop the ability of its forces to work with NATO and is also providing planning targets that are key to security reform objectives in several areas. NATO support has, for example, helped Georgia build deployable units according to NATO standards and interoperable with Allied forces. Georgia’s defence reform objectives within the PARP have facilitated improved financial management in the Ministry of Defence, assisted in reforming the intelligence structure of the armed forces and ensured that a credible Strategic Defence Review was conducted.
A key priority for Georgia is to ensure democratic control of the armed forces, including effective judicial oversight and appropriate defence command and control arrangements through a range of measurable objectives within the ANP.
Education and training are also key objectives of Georgia’s ANP and reform efforts. NATO is leading a tailored programme for Georgia – the Defence Education Enhancement Programme (DEEP) – with the support of the PfP Consortium of Defence Academies and Security Studies Institutes, the Partnerships Training and Education Centres and Allied defence institutions.
Following Georgia’s request in 2008, NATO and Georgia launched a Professional Development Programme for Civilian Personnel in the Ministry of Defence and other Security Institutions in 2009. The programme provides training with the aim of strengthening the capacity for democratic management and oversight in the Ministry of Defence, as well as other security sector institutions. Training and education provided in the framework of this programme is closely aligned to Georgia’s defence and security sector reform objectives outlined in both the ANP and PARP. Current priorities are to support Georgia’s civil service reform and enhance Georgia’s own capacity for providing training to security sector civilian personnel.
Another priority in the area of defence and security sector reform has been to support demilitarization projects in Georgia through the NATO/PfP Trust Fund mechanism which allows individual Allies and partner countries to provide financial support to key projects on a voluntary basis. Over the years, a number of Trust Fund projects have helped to address problems posed by stockpiles of surplus and obsolete weapons and munitions, and promoted their safe disposal.
Civil emergency planning
Georgia is enhancing its national civil emergency and disaster-management capabilities in cooperation with NATO and through participation in activities organised by the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC). The Centre helped coordinate the delivery of hundreds of tonnes of relief items to Georgia in the wake of the August 2008 conflict. It also coordinated assistance to Georgia in 2005 when the country experienced some of the worst flooding in its history, in 2006 when forest fires broke out in southern Georgia, and after a major earthquake in 2009.
Georgia itself hosted a major EADRCC consequence-management field exercise in the town of Rustavi in September 2012. Some 1,000 people from 35 countries participated in the exercise, which was organised in cooperation with the Emergency Management Department of the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Science and environment
Georgia has been actively engaged within the framework of the NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme since 1994. The SPS Programme enables close collaboration on issues of common interest to enhance the security of NATO and Partner countries. By facilitating international efforts, in particular with a regional focus, the Programme seeks to address emerging security challenges, support NATO-led operations and advance early warning and forecast for the prevention of disasters and crises.
Today, scientists and experts from Georgia are working to address a wide range of security issues, notably in the fields of environmental security, cyber defence, advanced technology (including nanotechnology) and disaster forecast and prevention of natural catastrophes. Most recently, Georgian experts contributed to a hands-on cyber defence training course based on their national experience and expertise. Other projects include collaboration on improving trans-boundary water management and mitigating the risks posed by earthquakes in the South Caucasus.
Increasing the public awareness of NATO and its relations with Georgia is also a key area of cooperation. Since 2002, in cooperation with local non-governmental organisations and state authorities, NATO, through its Liaison Office in Tbilisi, has been organising numerous activities to this end, including seminars, conferences and workshops. “NATO Weeks” and summer schools are organised on an annual basis to reach out to youth audiences.
Groups of opinion leaders from Georgia are regularly invited to visit NATO Headquarters and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) for briefings about the Alliance, and NATO officials regularly travel to Georgia to speak at public events. Senior NATO officials – including the Secretary General and the Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia – also regularly visit the country for high-level consultations. The North Atlantic Council, NATO’s highest political decision-making body, paid a two-day visit to the country in September 2008, in the immediate aftermath of the Georgia crisis. The Council paid a second visit in November 2011 and another in June 2013.
In every partner country an embassy of one of the NATO member states serves as a contact point and operates as a channel for disseminating information about the role and policies of the Alliance. The current NATO Contact Point Embassy in Georgia is the embassy of Romania.
The Office of the State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration has established an Information Center on NATO, which has its main office in Tbilisi and branches in Kutaisi and Zugdidi. Working in close cooperation with NATO’s Public Diplomacy Division and with the NATO Liaison Office in Georgia, it is an important tool in raising public awareness about the Alliance in the country.