US top defence official cites Georgia as a model of defence modernisation

Marine Corps. Photo: Cpl. Kimberly Aguirre., 25 May 2018 - 13:48, Tbilisi,Georgia

The US-Georgia defence relationship is "important and blossoming,” said Robert S. Karem, the assistant secretary of defence for international security affairs at the second annual US-Georgia Strategic Partnership Conference.

The top defence official hailed the US relationship with Georgia, saying it is an "incredibly important strategic partnership” with a nation that shares values and interests with the United States.

In his speech Karem said that it has been 100 years since Georgia originally declared independence. That independence was followed by Soviet conquest in 1921, which lasted until the fall of the Soviet Union and Georgia’s second declaration of independence in 1991.

It has been 10 years since Russia invaded Georgia, he said, explaining that Russia continues to occupy 20 percent of Georgia.

It's hard not to be impressed and surprised at the progress that Georgia has made, in spite of so much adversity,” he said.

Karem commended Georgia for its commitment to global peace and security, pointing out its troop contributions to missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali and the Central African Republic.

This has come at considerable cost,” he said, paying tribute to the dozens of Georgian soldiers who have been killed and the hundreds wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Karem cited Georgia as a model to other nations for its defence modernisation and reform to meet the challenges of today. He echoed Vice President Mike Pence’s statement that Georgia will one day become a member of NATO.