June 10, 2011
The army has received 40 Hummer vehicles
By Georgy Dvali, Tbilisi
The US has transferred 40 military-version Hummer vehicles to Georgia. The Pentagon explained the direct military assistance to Georgia with the necessity to train an additional contingent of Georgian special forces for their deployment to Afghanistan. At the same time, experts have no doubts that such a generous gesture of the US has ulterior motives it is aimed to show the congressional critics of the current administration that it is not abandoning its main ally in the Caucasus for the sake of the reset with Russia.
The solemn ceremony of the transfer of 30 Hummer 1151 vehicles and 10 armed Hummer 1151 1 vehicles to Georgia took place at the Georgian Defense Ministry's Krtsanisi training center, located near Tbilisi. The ceremony was attended by the First Deputy Defense Minister of Georgia, Nodar Kharshiladze, and temporary US Charge d'Affairs Kent Logsdon. His immediate supervisor, US Ambassador to Tbilisi John Bass, is now on honeymoon back home.
The editor in chief of Arsenali, an independent analytical magazine, Irakli Aladashvili, noted in an interview with Kommersant that according to its specifications, the Hummer belongs to a class of armored vehicles that the Georgian army already has in its inventory in particular, the Turkish Cobra, the Israeli Wolf and the Georgian Didgori. The combined cost of the 40 US vehicles amounts to about $5 million. According to Kommersant's sources in Georgia's Defense Ministry, the received vehicles will be used in the training of military units leaving for Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the vehicles will not be used in the combat zone. According to Kommersant's source, "the vehicles are not being rented out by the US, but are being transferred as a gift; in other words, they will remain in the inventory of the Defense Ministry's units and subunits after the end of the operation in Afghanistan."
Recall that Tbilisi will soon significantly raise its level of participation in the operation of the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAS). The announcement of Tbilisi's readiness to make this step was made by the White House after a recent meeting in Rome between US Vice President Joe Biden and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili. Kommersant's sources note that another battalion of 600-650 contractors will be deployed to Afghanistan, where 950 Georgian troops already serve today. Thus, in the near future, the Georgian contingent in the country will be the largest of any non-NATO state.
The US has been providing direct military assistance to Georgia since 2002. Within the framework of the "train and equip" program, the Pentagon supplied several old Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopters to the country, which are still being used by the Georgian Air Force, as well as about a dozen trucks. Since then, certain influential US senators, including former Republican presidential candidate John McCain, have repeatedly urged the US administration to start supplying defense weapons to Georgia.
According to Irakli Aladashvili, as a result the White House took the middle ground.
"Georgia was given armored vehicles, which could very well be equipped with anti-tank missiles, as well as antiaircraft weapons. [The Hummer vehicles] are much better than the Toyota cars which have been used by the Georgian Armed Forces during the war in August for the relocation of small units," explained Aladashvili.
The transfer of the armored vehicles coincided with the entry of the US Navy warship "Anzio" into the port of Batumi, where it will remain until June 12. The cruiser is equipped with guided missiles and state-of-the-art technology. The crew consists of 31 officers and 305 sailors. During the stay at Batumi, the US sailors will conduct joint training operations with Georgian Coast Guard staff.