Georgian troops return from Afghanistan

Georgian troops touched down on Georgian soil at the Alekseevka military airfield in Tbilisi on July 21, 2014. Photo by, 21 Jul 2014 - 13:48, Tbilisi,Georgia

The last contingent of Georgian soldiers who served in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan have returned home.

This morning’s return of military servicemen of the 23rd Battalion of the II Infantry Brigade marked the completion of the Georgian Armed Forces military mission in Afghanistan.

The 150 battalion members, who were deployed at Camp Leatherneck in the Helmand province four months ago, touched down on Georgian soil at the Alekseevka military airfield in Tbilisi this morning. 

The soldiers were welcomed home by the US Ambassador to Georgia, Deputy Defence Minister, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces and the US Military Attache in Georgia.

 Sergeant Major of the Georgian Armed Forces Aluda Kopaliani believed the Georgian troops had fulfilled their tasks abroad.

"The 23rd Battalion has returned back home without suffering any casualties and they will join the Georgian Armed Forces, thus strengthening our military forces,” Kopaliani said.

He also thanked the Georgian delegation for Georgia’s contribution to help Afghanistan return to a stable environment. The Georgian soldiers served under the Georgian flag for the past four years on a rotation basis as part of the ISAF mission.

Death toll of the Georgian soldiers in the ISAF mission is 29 – all killed in action in the Helmand province. 435 Georgian soldiers have been wounded in action, 35 of whom are amputees, according to the ISAF.

Georgia has pledged one Battalion will continue posting in Afghanistan once the 2014 mission ends. About 50 Georgian troops are continuing to serve in Kabul and a special mountain Battalion is deployed in Kandahar.

In July, members of Georgia’s 23rd Battalion celebrated accomplishment of their mission and marked the occasion with a solemn ceremony at Camp Leatherneck.

The military base, under US command, has since been closed as the international forces prepare to transfer the country’s security responsibility to the Afghan National Security Forces. This is due to be completed at the end of 2014, when ISAF’s mission will officially end.