Georgia retains conscription, backs down on 2016 pledge to scrap it

TBILISI, FEB. 8 (The Conway Bulletin) — Georgia’s parliament voted to approve a new military doctrine that will keep conscription in its army despite a pledge two years ago to scrap it.

The doctrine, updated every four or five years by Georgia, envisages two reservist military levels as back-up to Georgia’s full-time forces when it is adopted from June 1.

An ‘active reserve’ will be made up of former soldiers who have volunteered to remain in the military. The second, called the ‘mobilisation reserve’, will be used as a National Guard and will be made up of conscripts who will support the main forces during a war. Municipality authorities can call up these conscripts for a maximum of 45 days training per year.

The inclusion of conscripts in a National Guard is a victory for defence minister Levan Izoria. He made it no secret after taking over the job in August 2016 that he thought plans by his predecessor Tina Khidasheli to scrap conscription were foolhardy.

He told Parliament’s defence committee that the Georgian army’s main role was to face down threats and “in the case of war to have the capability to slow down the enemy, to cause significant damage to them, and to stop their aggression.”

Georgia wants to join NATO and has been modernising its military since it lost a brief war in August 2008 against Russia.

It still supports US forces in Afghanistan, runs exercises alongside NATO forces and this year has bought a series of Javelin shoulder-mounted missiles from US companies.


>>This story was first published in issue 361 of the weekly Conway Bulletin newspaper for Central Asia and the South Caucasus

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