by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to Georgian troops preparing to deploy to Afghanistan
Minister, Excellencies, Soldiers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour and a privilege for me to address the brave soldiers of the Separate Light Infantry Battalion and the 31st Light Infantry Battalion.
Several of you have served to bring peace and stability to Kosovo and Iraq. And these past few years, the courage and commitment of both your battalions has been tested in Afghanistan. You have passed that test with great distinction.
You have been part of one of the greatest coalitions for peace in history - and are about to deploy there again. Our International Security Assistance Force unites 50 nations from all across the globe. Together, we are helping Afghanistan to stand on its own feet. And making sure that it will never again be a safe haven for terrorists threatening our nations.
You are doing an important job with great determination, courage and professionalism. You play a vital part in stopping extremism and terrorism spreading from Afghanistan to other parts of the world. In Afghanistan, you help make Georgia safer and the world safer. I salute you.
And I salute your country. With more than 1500 personnel deployed in Afghanistan, Georgia is providing more troops than any of NATO’s other partner countries. That is a major contribution, for which all of NATO is extremely grateful.
You are preparing for a new deployment to Afghanistan as the country has just passed a major milestone. Last week, I took part at the ceremony in Kabul where president Karzai announced Afghan forces are taking the lead for security across the country. And as they step forward, ISAF's main effort is shifting from combat to support.
Let me thank each and every one of you in the Separate Light Infantry Battalion and the 31st Light Infantry Battalion for your outstanding personal contribution to our common endeavour in Afghanistan.
And let me close by paying tribute to your fellow soldiers who have been wounded in that common endeavour, and those who have paid with their lives. We will make sure that their sacrifice has not been in vain.