SC141 Field Study 3 to Georgia
On 8 December 2022, Senior Course 141 was in Georgia, the second country visited as part of Field Study 3.
Course Members were hosted at the Georgian Ministry of Defence, where the Chief of Defence, Major General Giorgi Matiashvili, met the delegation on their arrival, underlining the importance of cooperation with NATO in his welcome remarks.
Afterwards, Mr Alexander Vinnikov, Head of the NATO Liaison Office, briefed Course Members, highlighting that since 2008, Georgia had been cooperating strongly with NATO and was looking forward to enhancing its relationship with the Alliance further, especially in the security sector. Mr Vinnikov continued with several examples of NATO-Georgia cooperation, such as the Joint Training and Evaluation Centre (JTEC), but also Building Integrity initiatives and Georgia’s participation in the NATO Response Force and in Operation Sea Guardian.
Following Mr Vinnikov’s briefing, Colonel Norbert Hess, Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP) Core Team Leader, addressed the delegation. He started by thanking the NDC for its visit to Georgia and went on to describe the SNGP in practical terms and how it promotes cooperation between NATO and Georgia with various measures and activities in different fields, such as strategic communications and maritime security.
Later, Col. Giorgi Bliadze, Head of the Georgian Intelligence Department, presented a briefing on the security environment in the region, focusing first on energy corridors, i.e. pipelines, running across Georgia from East to West, towards Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and Türkiye. Col. Bliadze then looked at Russian interests in the Caucasus – which has served both as a barrier and a bridge between North and South, East and West – and the strategic significance of the region for Russia, in view of its ambitions to wield military, political and economic clout. He also gave an overview of the Russian military presence in Georgia’s occupied territories and discussed the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on the North Caucasus region.
The Black Sea security architecture and the command structure’s cooperation with NATO were the topics discussed in the subsequent presentation by Col. Papuna Davitaia, from the Georgian Coast Guard. Russian expansion and increasing influence in the area have caused issues such as drifting sea mines, communications jamming, electronic interference and cyberattacks to challenge international shipping in the Black Sea, said Col. Davitaia. As a consequence, Georgia has been enhancing multilateral cooperation, exercises and initiatives with several countries.
The following presentation centred on the Georgian defence planning architecture, introducing the Georgian defence planning process, with main innovations such as long-term planning based on the MoD vision for 2030. The process starts from the National Security Concept, going through the threat assessment document, the National Defence Strategy and Preparedness Plan, down to Ministerial Directives.
The next briefing was presented by Col. Davit Usenashvili, focusing on Georgian defence force transformation. He described how the Georgian Total Defence Approach involves the whole of government, with the support of the military sector, international cooperation, and civilian efforts, so that effective mechanisms can be established for a rapid mobilization and integrated employment of all national resources. Col. Usenashvili also described the Georgian Defence Forces’ (GDF) operating concept, capability requirements and capability development, as well as the National Resistance Concept. Before concluding his presentation, Col. Usenashvili looked ahead to the future of the GDF, including the revision of the conscript service system, the reserve and mobilization system, recruitment and retention, and the replacement of Soviet weapon systems and equipment.
The last briefing of the morning session was presented by Ms Tinatin Mzarelua, from the International Relations and Euro-Atlantic Integration Department of the NATO Integration Division, who outlined the NATO-Georgia milestones, the key cooperation mechanisms with NATO, the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, multinational military exercises and the Georgian contribution to international security efforts.
The last five presentations were all followed by a Questions and Answer discussion.
After lunch, the NDC delegation paid a visit to JTEC (Joint Training and Evaluation Centre), where its Commander, Col. David Gagua, after welcoming visitors, gave a presentation on the Centre, focusing on its structure, major milestones and participant countries (USA, GBR, HUN, LTU, NOR).
JTEC’s mission is to provide the GDF, NATO members and partner nations with live and virtual training and evaluation capabilities in order to strengthen defence capability, enhance interoperability and facilitate regional cooperation. JTEC works in close cooperation with NATO and non-NATO entities. A tour on the JTEC premises followed the presentation, before concluding the academic part of the day.
A sightseeing tour taking in Georgia’s Old Capital, Mtskheta, as well as the Jvari Monastery and Svetitskhoveli Cathedral ensured that Course Members and NDC staff continued their trip with fond memories of their visit to Georgia.