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09TBILISI2283 2009-12-24 10:05:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi
Cable title:  

GEORGIA: DASD WALLANDER MEETING WITH MINDEF

Tags:   PGOV PREL GG 
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1. (C) SUMMARY. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
Celeste Wallander laid out the results of the Bilateral
Defense Consulations (BDC), reaffirming U.S. support for
Georgia's defense reform and modernization along
Euro-Atlantic lines in her meeting with Georgian Minister of
Defense Bacho Akhalaia on the margins of the BDC in Tbilisi.
Wallander asserted that assistance is a long-term process and
a long-term commitment by the United States, which is
contingent on Georgia's reform progress and ability to meet
key milestones. Minister of Defense Akhalaia appreciated the
strong U.S. footprint at the 2009 BDC and reiterated
Georgia's need for continued U.S. assistance as it goes
through a wholescale reformation of its defense institutions.
Akhalaia laid out the short and long-term challenges faced
by the Ministry of Defense, which included the need for
increased resources focused on the General Defense Plan,
developing doctrine, and curriculum development for the
National Academy. End Summary.

DEFENSE PRIORITIES



2. (C) Minister Akhalaia provided an in-progress update of
developments in Georgia's defense reform process. Noting the
BDC provided the U.S. an opportunity to gauge Georgia's
current focus and priorities, Akhalaia focused on the equal
and interrelated problems in training, education and weapons
procurement. As the MoD is currently focused on educating
and training its officer corps, military personnel and
civilians, Akhalaia had decided to elevate the priority of
education by apportioning additional national funds into
establishing a National Military Academy (NMA). At the
current stage, the NMA needed serious attention and
assistance, and U.S. support will be vital to ensure the
institution can serve Georgia's vital needs. Akhalaia
admitted that Georgia has neither the intellectual nor
financial resources to fully solve the educational capability
gaps that exist. Despite these shortcomings, the MoD will
focus an increasing amount of its resources and energy into
supporting an intellectual framework for the GAF. Akhalaia
asserted that without resolving the problem of education, it
will be difficult to resolve the entire range of MoD
problems. Akhalaia concluded by noting that Georgia would
appreciate increased assistance on developing its doctrine
and defense plan.

U.S. SUPPORT



3. (C) DASD Wallander praised Georgia's progress since the
2008 BDC. Focusing on strategic documents had proven
fruitful, as the ongoing National Security Review process
will set the foundation for lasting security sector reforms.
DASD Wallander underscored the array of U.S. assistance
efforts since the 2008 BDC, noting how the U.S. had
reoriented its focus and placed significant resources into
supporting a "brains before brawn" approach which will lay
the groundwork for Georgia's defense needs, reform process
and NATO aspirations. As the U.S. and Georgia continued to
review areas of cooperation, it is vital that Georgia
prioritize its assistance needs. Georgia needs to ensure its
budget process creates a transparent acquisition and planning
system that best serves Georgia's multi-faceted needs.
Qsystem that best serves Georgia's multi-faceted needs.
Akhalaia agreed, noting specifically that Georgia is making
moves to reform its acquisition system and had a unified
budget plan for 2010 that recognized the government's limited
resources and updated priorities. Akhalaia described his
efforts to decentralize administrative decision-making in the
MoD to ensure an efficient reform process.

PARTNERSHIP LINKED TO REFORMS



4. (C) DASD Wallander described how the U.S.-Georgia
defense partnership developed in the context of the larger
bilateral relationship. Development in the U.S.-Georgia
defense partnership is intrinsically linked to security and
political developments in Georgia, as the focus, intensity
and ability to cooperate depended on Georgia's restraint,
reform progress and the political decisions Georgia makes.
Georgia is under a microscope in Washington, and it is vital
that Georgia deepens its commitment to democratic
development, which can thereby enable a stronger defense
cooperation relationship. Akhalaia reiterated that Georgia

TBILISI 00002283 002 OF 002


has a chance of success only within the limits of democracy.
There was no alternative source of development for Georgia,
and Akhalaia reaffirmed that he would continue to support the
government's efforts aimed at strengthening democracy.

GEORGIA DEPLOYMENT PROGRAM-INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ASSISTANCE
FORCE (ISAF), AFGHANISTAN



5. (C) DASD Wallander turned to the Afghanistan deployment,
describing her visit to the Krtsanisi Training Facility.
Wallander reported that the training was going extremely well
and U.S. Marine trainers were pleased with Georgia's
progress. DASD Wallander noted that it was a privilege to
visit the training, as witnessing Georgia's personnel
standing side-by-side with U.S. forces only reinforced the
significance of Georgia's offer and efforts to support ISAF.
The U.S. will continue to ensure that Georgia is trained and
equipped for its efforts in Afghanistan. Akhalaia thanked
the U.S. for its continuing assistance and support for
preparing Georgia's personnel. He further stated it was
essential that Georgian forces joining their ISAF
counterparts be prepared for the difficult challenges that
awaited them, and Akhalaia appreciated U.S. efforts to train
and equip Georgia's forces. Akhalaia said Georgia is
prepared to stand by the U.S. no matter what decision was
taken in Afghanistan regarding U.S. presence.

STATE PARTNERSHIP



6. (U) Georgia National Guard Adjutant General Nesbitt
described the 15-year U.S.-Georgia state partnership, which
had successfully provided a mechanism for strong bilateral
cooperation. General Nesbitt remarked that over the past
fifteen years he had personally watched Georgia develop at a
remarkable pace. Viewed in perspective, Georgia's progress
gave the U.S. confidence that it would succeed and build a
strong democratic state along Euro-Atlantic lines. The
Georgia National Guard will continue to work closely with the
Georgian Armed Forces, and the new Chief of Georgia's
National Guard has a solid vision and reform plan. The State
of Georgia will engage wherever it can in support and looks
forward to hosting the 2010 Bilateral Defense Consultations.




7. (U) Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Celeste
Wallander has cleared this cable.
BASS