A combat center similar to the military base in Hohenfels, Germany, will be launched in Georgia in May
Levan Izoria, the Georgian Minister of Defence has announced that, in May this year, they plan to launch one of the country’s ‘most ambitious programs ever in terms of defence readiness’ – a centre for combat training based on the Hohenfels military base in Germany.
The centre will be opened on the Ministry of Defence base in Vaziani, not far from Tbilisi.
The first time news about the launch of the new centre was released was one year ago in February 2017. Izoria provided more precise details on the project while speaking in parliament at a defence and national security committee hearing:
“In 2017 we allocated two million lari to the improvement of the NATO-Georgian Joint Training and Evaluation Centre (JTEC). We also allocated 18 million for the construction of a centre for defence readiness in Vaziani. For the most part this money was saved as a result of optimizing expenditures within the ministry.We will already launch the defence readiness programme of Georgia in May with our main strategic partners,” Radio Svoboda cites Izoria as saying.
The centre in Vaziani will open together with the launch of the defence readiness programme, under which Georgian soldiers will train with the support of the USA. The new stage in Georgian-American military cooperation began in July 2016 after the visit of the then-US Secretary of State to Georgia, John Kerry. A memorandum was signed in Tbilisi on the ‘deepening of cooperation in the sphere of defence and security between Georgia and the USA’.
Izoria also announced that in 2018 the Georgian army will undergo serious reforms. In particular, 23 million lari (about 9.5 million dollars) from the Ministry of Defence’s budget has been allocated to modernize and renew the military’s aviation sector. The minister also said that a naval component will be included in the defence programme.
The Georgian army is currently upgrading its arsenal and equipment to meet NATO standards. This includes first and foremost light weaponry. Nine battalions will be fully equipped with the necessary weapons and equipment. Last year, hundreds of American M-240 machine guns were delivered to Georgia, which will replace the old weaponry left over from the Soviet period. This year, several thousand M4A1 rifles as well as Javelin missiles will be delivered to Georgia. Twenty per cent of the Ministry of Defence’s budget will be spent on rearming the Georgian military forces, totalling 802 million lari (around 330 million dollars) for the current year.