By Rick Rozoff
Six days after being installed as the Mikheil Saakashvili regime’s new defense minister, Georgia’s Dimitri Shashkin briefed one of his nation’s newspapers on what he referred to as a three Ts policy in regard to the armed forces.
The Ts in question were identified as Total Care, Total Training and Total Defense.
The account of the above on the English-language Civil Georgia website employed the term three Ts, though the Georgian language uses its own alphabet and not the Latin. There is reason to believe that the new Georgian defense chief’s initiative was written in English – by the Pentagon – and transliterated into the local language.
By way of substantiating the above suspicion, Shashkin also announced that he was introducing a new motto for the Georgian Defense Ministry – No Man Left Behind in Peace and in War – which he acknowledged as a derivation of the slogan No One Gets Left Behind used by U.S. Army Rangers and other American special operations forces.
Shashkin was a long-term operative of the International Republican Institute and continues to take his cues from Washington.
Total Care is a public relations sop to Saakashvili’s subjects, one which pledges to attend to the needs of armed forces personnel and their family members as the Georgian death toll in Afghanistan steadily rises.
Regarding the second facet of the new military triad, Total Training, the defense chief indicated where, in addition to subservience to the Pentagon, his priorities are in saying “We need as much training as possible in order to speed up integration into NATO structures.”
To tie the above two threads together, he added: “A change of ministers does not mean the shaking of an institution. Policy, the main goal of which is NATO integration and continuation of cooperation with American partners, will speed up.”
Over the last decade the US. Marine Corps has been training Georgian battalions for deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, in the latter case serving under NATO command, and American and NATO military personnel are regularly present at military bases and training centers in Vaziani, Krtsanisi, Gori, Senaki, Kutaisi and elsewhere and at the Ministry of Defense Headquarters, the NATO Liaison Office, the Sachkhere Mountain Training School and the new Cadets Military Lyceum.
The Total Defense component concentrates on the further development of what is in essence universal military duty and laying the groundwork for total mobilization in preparation for a new war with South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Russia as, Shakshin stated on July 10, 20 percent of Georgian territory “remains occupied.” Russia reinforced troop strength in the above two newly independent nations after Georgia’s assault on South Ossetia and the resultant war with Russia four years ago next month.
In 2006 Saakashvili announced that “every man under 40 must pass military training” in his hypermilitarized domain.
In April 2007 he spoke at the military base in Senaki where the first 1,500 Georgians were commencing mandatory army reserve training as part of a program for expanding the strongman’s armed forces into “every village.” He said that military “modernization will increase significantly” in order to create “maximally modern armed forces.”
Furthermore, he added, “Today Georgia is ready to have at least 100,000-strong, well-equipped and well-trained reserve troops in the nearest future” and every citizen should “know to handle arms and if necessary should be ready to repel aggression.”
NATO weapons and training standards have been used for the reserve training as well as that of the regular armed forces.
This April 11 Saakashvili stated that his regime would have a 70,000-strong, well-trained “volunteer reserve” by this summer and that it will more than double to 150,000 by next year.
An eight-page draft document on the expansion of reserve forces was sent to the parliament for discussion later that month. It reads in part: “Taking into consideration Georgia’s security environment and the country’s geographic peculiarities, Georgia’s self-defense planning is based on the principle of Total Defense.”
During parliamentary hearings on the document, Deputy Secretary of Georgia’s National Security Council Batu Kutelia stated that, as cited by Civil Georgia, “the Defense Ministry was developing strategy and doctrine which would lay out in more details all the aspects of the planned system” and “the concept would also be discussed with NATO in the framework of the NATO-Georgia Commission.”
Georgia is a country of only 4.5 million people, less than one-thirtieth the population of Russia. Its top officials from President Mikheil Saakashvili to his new defense minister would never venture the inflammatory and bellicose statements they routinely do without being certain of U.S. and NATO support. Uncritical and unsparing support.
Since last month an impressive array of U.S. and NATO officials have visited Georgia, includingSecretary of State Hillary Clinton (who renewed the American pledge to upgrade the nation’s air and coastal defenses), NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow, NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation General Mieczyslaw Bieniek, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and a delegation of U.S. congressmen.  NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is to visit the country in September.
On July 10 Defense Minister Shashkin also met with Western ambassadors and military attaches in Tbilisi to brief them on his ministry’s priorities, including the three Ts described above.
On the same day the U.S. and Georgian governments held a Defense Logistics Agency (the main procurement agency for the Pentagon) symposium in the Georgian capital designed to prepare the host country for contracts with the U.S. Defense Department. According to the Georgian press, “high officials from the Pentagon are expected to explain to representatives of 120 Georgian companies how to participate in tenders declared by the U.S. Defense Department.” The two-day meeting was addressed by Shashkin and Prime Minister Ivane Merabishvili. The first “underscored the importance of the event, remarking that holding a symposium like that in Georgia testifies to the progress achieved in the industrial and military areas throughout recent years,” according to the Georgian Defense Ministry website.
America’s South Caucasus military client is being cut in for a piece of the arms production action as its defense industry has been “NATOized” to meet U.S. and Alliance interoperability standards.
The Georgian prime minister was paraphrased by Georgian news media as effusing:
“The export of Georgian products to the Pentagon market is a unique opportunity for Georgia. [T]he Pentagon’s market is much bigger than the entire region around us. Entrepreneurs were given a unique chance to export products to a very large market. This is a $47 billion market. This is much more of a market than any other country or the whole region.”
Georgia is a privileged American military partner in every category.
Washington has invested a disproportionate amount of wealth and efforts to build its military outpost in the Caucasus and doesn’t intend to lose it in a war the current regime provokes with its neighbors or through internal democratic transformation that rids the nation and its people of U.S.-controlled overlords.
In April Georgi Gugava, political secretary of the opposition Labor Party, decried the fact that there has been an intensification of “military rhetoric” and “advertising of reserves and new military hardware” on Georgian state-controlled television channels. He warned that “Saakashvili is preparing for a war” and is planning to “launch a provocation” in order to “involve the Russian army” in a conflict.
In the above regard, the path from total defense to total mobilization and from that to total war can be short one.