33 men from Pankisi Gorge sign up to serve in Georgian Army

The two-week Ministry of Defence recruitment drive in Pankisi Gorge ended successfully. Photo by Beslan Pankiski.
Agenda.ge, 01 Mar 2016 - 14:46, Tbilisi,Georgia

A two-week recruitment drive in Pankisi Gorge has ended successfully for the Ministry of Defence, with more than two dozen young men registering to serve in Georgia’s Armed Forces (GAF).

Thirty-three young men from Georgia’s eastern, mainly Muslim-populated Pankisi Gorge completed the recruit registration form after learning about the role and duties of the GAF.

Yesterday Georgia’s Minister of Defence Tinatin Khidasheli thanked Colonel Mamuka Kavtaradze and his staff for spending two weeks in the challenging region to inform the locals about the range of military service available in Georgia.

We extended the registration period specifically for the Pankisi Gorge in order to give these people a chance to serve in the GAF. Now we will start to work with them to collect appropriate documentation so they can become engaged in military activities as quickly as possible,” Khidasheli said.  
I am sure Pankisi people now know a lot more about the GAF than they earlier did, and I believe the next [military] call-up will have a greater response,” Khidasheli added. 

The Minister stressed the Defence Ministry would continue its efforts to increase the engagement of people in the Pankisi Gorge in the GAF and in the country’s operations.

Defence Minister Tinatin Khidasheli in Pankisi Gorge. Photo by the Ministry of Defence of Georgia. 

The 33 young males from Pankisi Gorge have had their documents accepted and passed psychological and physical tests. 

Soon the group will be enrolled in the Zaza Peradze Basic Training Centre (BCT) and in a 10-week program, develop basic military skills, after which they will be distributed to various units of the GAF. 

The initiative to involve more people from the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia’s military service belonged to Minister Khidasheli. Several young males from this region left the area and fought alongside radical Islamic Group-Islamic State (IS).

Khidasheli visited the Pankisi Gorge in January this year and offered the young men the chance to get involved in the GAF and enjoy a successful military career.

The Pankisi Gorge is mainly inhabited by Kists; people who came from the North Caucasus Dagestan Republic, currently under Russian control. At present there are about 8,000 Kists in Pankisi Gorge who mainly live in Duisi, Jokolo, Birkiani, Jibakhevi, Tsalakhani and Omalo villages. 

Together with the Kists, the Gorge is populated by ethnic Georgians from the mountainous regions.