The United States is stepping up its military aid to Georgia, encouraging Tbilisi to continue on its pro-NATO path. The State Department has approved the sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Georgia. The proposed $75 million sale includes 410 Javelin missiles and 72 Javelin command launch units (CLUs), including two Javelin Block 1 CLUs to be used as spares. The proposed sale also includes ten basic skills trainers (BST) and up to 70 simulated rounds.
Tbilisi believes that the approval is a big win. The Javelin has long been at the top of the country’s wish list since 2008 when Georgia attacked South Ossetia and Russian peacekeepers, triggering a war with Russia, which it lost. Until the State Department’s approval, the US had been reluctant to encourage Georgian adventurism and escalate tensions with Russia by selling the system. That attitude appears to have changed. The efforts to boost military cooperation with Tbilisi have intensified under the Trump administration. The visit of Vice President Mike Pence in August was seen in Tbilisi as a meaningful gesture toward Georgia.
Starting next spring, around 40-50 US Army officers will begin a three-year program to train Georgian troops. The program is currently scheduled to run for three years and train nine battalions. That will supplement the Georgia Deployment Program, under which about 80 US Marines are based in Georgia to train Georgian troops before they are sent to Afghanistan. The United States holds two large military exercises per year in Georgia, and has begun to replace the Soviet-legacy Kalashnikov automatic rifles with US-made M240.
Despite the ever-receding hopes of joining NATO, Georgia has done everything it could to ingratiate itself with the bloc, including being a significant contributor to US- and NATO-led missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thirty-two Georgian servicemen have died in Afghanistan. “In this sense, Georgia is an example for all,” said US Defense Secretary James Mattis, meeting his Georgian counterpart Levan Izoria at the Pentagon on November 13.
The Javelin is an easy-to-use shoulder-fired anti-tank, guided munition and surveillance weapon system effective against a wide array of targets such as armored vehicles, bunkers and caves. Being a fire-and-forget weapon, it requires no further input after lunch. The crew is free to duck into cover and concealment, rather than being forced to remain fixed in place guiding the missile towards the target. It can be deployed from multiple platforms such as tripods, trucks, light armored vehicles, and remotely piloted vehicles in all weather, day or night operations. The system’s long-wave infrared seeker enables it to engage in obscurants and reduced visibility and resists or minimizes effects of countermeasures. It has been recently upgraded to increase the effective firing range from 2,500 m to 4,750m.
The US Defense Department’s statement says that “This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of Georgia. The Javelin system will provide Georgia with increased capacity to meet its national defense requirements. Georgia will have no difficulty absorbing this system into its armed forces.” The question is how can the proposed sale enhance America’s security, with Georgia located thousands of miles away? How will it strengthen Georgia’s security? Russia will see the deal as a hostile act and take measures…..more here