Units of the Georgian Defense Forces began to receive into service light American-made M249 light machine guns with "NATO" 5.56 mm caliber.
This was reported on the website of the Georgian Ministry of Defense.
The head of the department, Irakli Garibashvili, made a trip to the Vaziani military base together with the commander of the Defense Forces, Major General Giorgi Matiashvili.
During the visit, the head of the Georgian Ministry of Defense personally got acquainted with the progress of the acquisition of Georgian units with American weapons.
As specified in the press service of the Georgian Defense Ministry, at the first stage, units trained under the joint defense readiness program (GDRP) with the Pentagon will be equipped with M249 machine guns.
However, experts doubt that equipping Georgian army units with American machine guns will seriously affect their level of combat capability.
As Sergei Ermakov, head of the regional security sector at the RISS Defense Research Center, recalled in an interview with RT, the Georgian army had previously used Soviet counterparts of the M249 machine gun.
“The supply of these weapons can only have a political and image effect.
Moreover, Georgia has long aimed at joining transatlantic structures, and the transition to NATO army standards is part of this plan.
The country is already spending a lot of money for these purposes, ”the analyst noted.
The day before, the Georgian Defense Ministry reported that the training of the 7th Infantry Battalion within the GDRP program started on September 30.
Its duration is 13 weeks.
Recall that the three-year defense program GDRP was launched by the United States and Georgia in early 2017.
It should be completed in 2021.
In October 2017, within the framework of this program, the first maneuvers were held in Georgia, during which Georgian military personnel were trained by instructors from the Joint Multinational Readiness Center of the US European Command and a joint training and assessment center (JTEC) with NATO.
In May 2018, American instructors began training the Georgian Defense Forces; nine infantry battalions must undergo retraining under the program in a general position.
Withdrawal of Russian bases from Georgia
By June 2020, six battalions of the Georgian Defense Forces were trained under the GDRP program.
Let us remind you that Georgia has become an object of close attention of the US and NATO after the collapse of the USSR.
It is the military sphere that has become a key area of US-Georgian cooperation.
Already in 1992, Georgia joined the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC).
Practical interaction began in 1992 after the country joined the Partnership for Peace program.
Since 2003, a Defense Agreement has been in effect between the countries.
Under the terms of this document, representatives of the Pentagon have the right to free movement on Georgian territory, can freely cross the Georgian border and engage in the transportation of military equipment.
At the same time, the US military also received the privileges and immunities of the administrative staff of the US Embassy.
As Eduard Shevardnadze, who was then President of Georgia, said at the time, the Georgian-American agreement does not pose a threat to Russia, since there are Russian military bases on Georgian territory.
However, already in 2005, the withdrawal of Russian bases from Georgia began, and the bases in Batumi and Akhalkalaki were the first to stop their activities.
And the echelon with the last disbanded base left the country in 2007.
In 2009, Washington and Tbilisi took another step towards deepening military cooperation by signing the Charter on Strategic Partnership.
The parties identified as a priority the acceleration of Georgia's accession to NATO and the enhancement of the country's defense capability.
Within the framework of this cooperation, as well as Georgia's aspirations for the North Atlantic Alliance, Tbilisi is actively acquiring Western weapons.
However, mainly we are talking about already used equipment.
So, in the 2000s, the Georgian military received multifunctional UH-1H Iroquois helicopters, which were previously used in the NATO army.
In addition, in 2016, the American side handed over to their Georgian colleagues two patrol boats built in the late 1980s and early 1990s: WPB 1340 Jefferson Island and WPB 1345 Staten Island.
Earlier, in the early 2000s, the United States also transferred two Point-class patrol boats to Georgia - WPB 82335 Point Countess and WPB 82342 Point Baker, which were built in the early 1960s.
In 2018, Georgia purchased a batch of Javelin anti-tank guns from the United States.
Javelin anti-tank installations
© Lucas Jackson
As reported on the website of the US Department of State, the volume of active interstate transactions between the United States and Georgia under the Foreign Military Sales Program (FMS) is $ 238.6 million, and the delivery of Javelin units in January 2018 is one of the significant transactions.
Recall that the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program is carried out directly by the Pentagon, about 60% of US arms exports go through it.
For Georgia, part of the arms supplies are sponsored by Washington.
“Since 2015, the US has allocated $ 202 million to Georgia in security assistance under the Department of State's Title 22 [US Code] mandate.
Of this, more than $ 190 million within the framework of the Foreign Defense Funding (FMF) program was used by Georgia to purchase military products from the United States, pay for military training and services to meet its national defense needs, ”the State Department's website reported.
“Joining or even partnering with NATO imposes tough geopolitical obligations on the country, which play into the hands of American interests,” Ermakov says.
The Georgian authorities intend in the future to completely abandon Soviet-style weapons and switch to NATO standards.
This was stated in May 2019 by the Minister of Defense of Georgia (then this post was held by Levan Izoria) during a trip to Washington.
Such a transition will mean that Georgia will find itself not only in military-political, but also financial and technical dependence on NATO and the United States, political analysts believe.
“Without external assistance, Georgia will not be able to re-equip the army according to NATO standards.
Even for countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, a complete transition to NATO weapons has become a problem.
And any purchase of weapons also means spending in the future on maintenance and modernization, which will be dealt with by Western companies.
And this is very beneficial for the United States, ”explained Sergei Ermakov.
Pavel Feldman, Deputy Director of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Forecasts of RUDN University, shares a similar point of view.
He recalled that the demand to switch to Western, and preferably American, weapons is being put forward to any country that finds itself in the orbit of US influence.
“Undoubtedly, this way Georgia finds itself in serious dependence.
The country is not expected to join NATO, despite all the promises, since it has unresolved territorial disputes.
However, it should completely transfer the army to NATO weapons now, ”the expert stated.