Security Assistance Beyond the Battlefield: Helping Georgia Care for its Wounded Warriors (February 9)

Whenever the United States has asked nations to contribute to international security, Georgia has answered the call. Whether in Afghanistan or Iraq, this small country at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia has stepped up to support global security.

Georgia is currently the second-largest troop contributor in Afghanistan behind the United States, deploying over 12,000 soldiers to Afghanistan since 2010, first as part of the International Security Assistance Force, and currently as part of the Resolute Support Mission. Georgian soldiers serve in Afghanistan without caveats, meaning they can be assigned any mission, including direct combat. From 2010 to 2014, they carried out combat missions in Helmand province alongside U.S. Marines. Georgian forces are presently assigned to protect Bagram Air Base, the largest coalition military base in Afghanistan.

Georgia’s unwavering commitment to deploying its armed forces has resulted in real sacrifices: 31 Georgians have lost their lives in Afghanistan, and 282 Georgians have been wounded in action.

Georgia’s Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Team, shown above, was trained in Georgia and at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center by U.S. orthopedic surgeons and physical and occupational therapists through support from Foreign Military Financing. [Department of State photo]

As Georgian forces continue to serve shoulder to shoulder with U.S. forces in some of the most dangerous environments around the world, U.S. security assistance is helping Georgia to care for its soldiers at home after they return from battle. Through U.S. Security assistance programs, we are working with Georgia to strengthen their military medical facilities into institutions able to adequately treat and care for its wounded military personnel. I recently had the opportunity to visit Gori Military Hospital in Georgia, and see firsthand our assistance programs at work.

Since 1998, Georgia has received a total of over $220 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF), and the Department of State has specifically used FMF funding to provide equipment, training, and advisory support to strengthen Georgia’s ability to care for its wounded warriors. FMF has helped the Georgian Armed Forces address needs and build capabilities in areas ranging from physical rehabilitation to the treatment of post-traumatic stress. During my visit, I saw firsthand how FMF is helping to build capacity and ensure that Georgia can provide the care its veterans need, including the use of prosthetics. As Georgia’s medical system continues to develop with the support of U.S. assistance programs such as FMF, the government of Georgia plans to significantly increase its own investment in this area by establishing a new agency devoted to caring for Georgia’s veterans.

Our effort to help Georgia build institutions to care for those injured in the line of duty reflects our two countries’ continuing commitment to solidarity on and off the battlefield. Assistance such as FMF is helping Georgia make significant strides towards achieving its goal of providing critical long-term medical care to its wounded warriors, and is advancing U.S. national security by supporting Georgia’s armed services as a strong partner and an emerging model for other countries.

About the Author: Rennie A. Silva serves as security assistance program analyst in the Office of Security Assistance within the Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.