Troops depart for Afghan peacekeeping mission amid praise from officials

Service members of the 23rd Battalion photographed during their send-off earlier today. Photo: Ministry of Defence of Georgia's press office., 28 Mar 2017 - 19:49, Tbilisi,Georgia

A new group of Georgian troops has departed to serve in the international peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan following a formal ceremony involving officials and diplomats in Georgia’s west earlier today.

The 23rd Battalion of II Infantry Brigade of Georgian Armed Forces will serve in the Resolute Support multinational mission over the next seven months after receiving an official send-off at the brigade’s parade ground at Senaki military base.

High-ranking Georgian and foreign figures addressed the unit during the ceremony to stress on Georgia’s share in international peacekeeping initiatives.

The attending officials and commanders included the Minister of Defence of Georgia Levan Izoria, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence of the United States Laura Cooper and US Ambassador Ian Kelly.

Minister Izoria noted the "special words” reserved by Commanding General of US Army Europe Lieutenant General Ben Hodges for Georgian troops training in preparation for deployment.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence Cooper and Ian Kelly stressed the peacekeeping partnership between the US and Georgian military while wishing the 23rd Battalion a safe return to Georgia.

The send-off ceremony saw the troops assemble at the Senaki base in Georgia's west. Photo: Ministry of Defence of Georgia's press office.

The departing service members will replace the 32nd Battalion of III Infantry Brigade in the peacekeeping effort. The replacement will take place within the periodic rotation system adopted by the Georgian military for its units serving in Afghanistan.

The battalion’s service members will provide security for the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, a task Georgian troops have fulfilled over their recent deployments in the country.

Minister of Defence of Georgia Levan Izoria thanked departing service members at the send-off. Photo: Ministry of Defence of Georgia's press office.

Before their send-off to Afghanistan the 23rd Battalion troops underwent mission preparation in Georgia and a final exercise at US Army’s Joint Multinational Readiness Centre in Hohenfels, Germany.

The Resolute Support mission launched in early 2015 as a follow-on task from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission, which also saw participation of Georgian troops.