Georgian soldiers depart for Afghanistan

A send-off ceremony of Georgian soldiers at the Gori military base. Photo by, 16 Sep 2014 - 15:48, Tbilisi,Georgia

A send-off ceremony for Georgian soldiers participating in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan was held at the Gori military base today.

The V Infantry Brigade 51st Battalion will be stationed at Bagram Airfield, the largest United States (US) military base in Afghanistan, for the next six months.

The ceremony was attended by Defence Minister Irakli Alasania, Chief of Joint Staff of Georgian Armed Forces General Mayor Vakhtang Kapanadze and various US military leaders.

Alasania farewelled the soldiers and wished them a successful mission and safe return.

"The readiness of the Battalion is very high as they have trained very hard for the mission. They have knowledge to complete the mission successfully. Nearly 80 percent of soldiers from the Battalion will participate in an operation for the first time which is additional responsibility for the leaders at the base,” Alasania said.

"We believe Georgian soldiers will finish the operation successfully.”

Before being deployed to Afghanistan, the 51st Battalion underwent six months of intensive training at the National Training Centre "Krtsanisi” and at the Europe-based combat training center - Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany.

The soldiers were trained to conduct a variety of operations such as protection, searches, cleaning, cordon and convoy procedures as well as evacuating wounded people.

Georgia has been involved in the ISAF mission in Afghanistan since 2009. It is the largest non-NATO member contributor to the mission, with 1,600 soldiers.