Georgian soldiers embrace African mission

The Batumi Separate Light Infantry Battalion left Tbilisi International Airport, bound for the troubled region., 10 Jun 2014 - 12:15, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Armed Forces (GAF) are on their way to begin a European Union peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic.

The Batumi Separate Light Infantry Battalion left Tbilisi International Airport earlier today, bound for the troubled region.

The Georgian soldiers were farewelled by GAF Deputy Head of the General Staff, Colonel Roman Jokhadze, who wished them a successful mission and safe return to their homeland.

About 150 Georgian troops will spend the next six months in Africa and participate in the international operation. Their duties include fulfilling the peacekeeping mission in Bangi city, ensuring the area is secure and the situation is stable. The Georgian troops will also patrol the area near the local airport.

A special ceremony was held on Friday to farewell the Georgian military, where President Giorgi Margvelashvili told the troops he and everyone in Georgia were proud of them, and their bravery and service contributed to a safer world.

Today the Ministry of Defence said Georgian soldiers underwent comprehensive training at the "Krtsanisi” National Training Centre in preparation for the EU-organised, French-led mission.

Their pre-deployment training included taking part in patrol exercises, setting up of check-points, protection of bases and ensuring security within their area of responsibility. Two French officers were involved in the training process and shared their experience with the Georgian military to prepare them for their African mission.

The Defence Ministry said the Georgian troops would be a part of the West Operational Command for the next six months and will serve alongside a US military contingent in Kabul.

This is the first time Georgia has contributed to an EU Security and Defence Mission and the first time Georgian troops served in Africa.