08TBILISI207, SCENESETTER FOR GEO MINDEF DAVIT KEZERASHVILI

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08TBILISI207 2008-02-08 04:40 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO2667
RR RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV
DE RUEHSI #0207/01 0390440
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 080440Z FEB 08 ZFF4
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
INFO RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8842
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 TBILISI 000207 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/19/2023 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL RU GG
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR GEO MINDEF DAVIT KEZERASHVILI 
COUNTERPART VISIT TO SECDEF 18-23 FEBRUARY 2008 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C//NF) Summary:  Continued U.S. support for Georgia's 
NATO aspirations and mil-mil cooperation will likely dominate 
your meeting with Minister of Defense Kezerashvili.  The 
development and reform of the Georgian Armed Forces into a 
NATO interoperable force is part of the foundation for a 
Georgian security and foreign policy aimed at integrating 
Georgia into Europe.  Georgia's contributions to Iraq and 
Kosovo have demonstrated Georgia's willingness to participate 
in global security operations and while this participation 
serves Georgia's interests it also supports long term U.S. 
strategic goals in the region.  Currently negotiations are 
ongoing to ensure Georgia's continued participation in these 
operations.  While the political will exists to continue 
participating in these operations, the Georgian Armed Forces 
recognizes the need for continued U.S. military assistance in 
order to transform their force into a viable force that can 
secure the Georgian people as well as continue to contribute 
as security provider on the world stage. 
                              End Summary. 
 
Political background and Internal Issues Impacting Georgian 
Security Decisions: 
 
 
  2. (U)  When President Saakashvili took office in 2004, 
Georgia was nearly a failed state, but it is much changed 
now.  Georgia is a strategically significant country to the 
United States because of its government's commitment to 
democracy, independence from Russia, free market economic 
reform and control of corruption, its aspirations for NATO 
and EU membership, and support for the War on Terrorism, most 
notably by the contribution of 2000 troops to Iraq coalition 
forces.  Georgia has the third largest contingent of troops 
in Iraq.  Its success or failure sends a distinct message to 
other countries of the former Soviet Union, and in the Middle 
East as well, about the wisdom of a Western-oriented, 
democratic, free market orientation.  Additionally, Georgia 
sits astride the main alternative corridor for trade in oil, 
gas and other goods to Europe from Central Asia and farther 
East.  Without Georgia's cooperation, no strategy for 
bringing additional Azeri, Kazakh or Turkmen oil and gas to 
the world market without passing through Russia can succeed. 
These facts begin to explain as well why Russia is openly 
hostile to Saakashvili's vision of an independent Georgia. 
 
  3. (U)  Recent election -  The January 5 presidential 
election was judged by the U.S. Embassy, the Organization for 
Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe 
to be, despite some problems, in essence consistent with most 
international standards for democratic elections.  There were 
problems, however, which the Georgian government has 
committed to address before parliamentary elections in the 
spring. 
 
  4.  (U)   Separatist regions -  Georgia's long-simmering 
problems with its separatist regions of South Ossetia and 
Abkhazia could erupt in controversy in February when Kosovo 
will likely declare independence.  Russia has threatened to 
recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia if 
the U.S. and Europeans recognize Kosovo, recent remarks by 
Russian FORMIN Lavrov notwithstanding.  Such a move by 
Russia, which has long supported the separatist regimes, will 
be extremely destabilizing to the government of Georgia.  We 
believe the government is sufficiently committed to its NATO 
membership drive that it would not jeopardize that goal by 
taking military action.  It will, however, have to resist 
internal pressure to do so. 
 
  5.  (U)  Energy issues - Georgia hosts a major gas pipeline 
from Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz field to Turkey.  It also 
facilitates transit of millions of barrels of Azeri and 
Kazakh oil via pipelines and rail transport.  Where Georgia 
was subject to frequent blackouts in 2003, it has greatly 
increased output of hydroelectric power and is now supplying 
paying customers with reliable 24 hour electricity.  It still 
needs large amounts of expensive Russian gas, especially in 
winter, but in 2007 it began receiving significant amounts of 
gas from Azerbaijan.  Over time Georgia will be less and less 
dependent on Russian supplies. 
 
Military Related Issues 
 
  6.  (C//NF) Future Georgian Contribution to Operations in 
Iraq: The 1st Georgian Infantry Brigade relieved the 3rd 
Georgian Infantry Brigade at Forward Operating Base Delta in 
Iraq on 4 February 2008, and is currently scheduled to 
re-deploy on 30 JUN 2008.  Following the re-deployment of 3rd 
Brigade, Georgia will leave a contingent of 500 soldiers in 
 
TBILISI 00000207  002 OF 003 
 
 
Iraq until such time as the U.S. says that Georgian 
participation OIF is no longer needed.  Letters recently sent 
by DASD Cagan and MNF-I have requested that the Georgian 
Government extend the Georgian military's deployment to Wasit &#x00
0A;Province until the end of 2008.  Negotiations to that effect 
began with DASD Cagan,s visit to Tbilisi in January of 2008 
and are on-going. The current Georgian position is that the 
relatively newly-formed 4th Brigade is the only unit that can 
reasonably follow the 1st Brigade, and that a transfer of 
authority can take place no later than August 2008.  The 
Georgians have offered 4th Brigade for the mission.  Initial 
indications are that should the U.S. assist in training the 
unit; the MOD will equip the unit with national funds. Many 
details on the specifics remain to be discussed, including to 
what standard the unit must be equipped.  Kezerashvili is 
certain to raise this subject but it seems unlikely that he 
will be empowered to conclude a final agreement with 
President Saakashvili,s forthcoming visit to the White 
House, tentatively scheduled for March of 2008. 
 
  7.  (S//NF) Operational Effectiveness of Georgian Units: 
MND-C is so pleased with Georgian performance to date that 
they have asked them to assume another off-FOB mission.  The 
Georgian 3rd Brigade was targeted by insurgents in Wasit 
Province with mortars, direct fire and IEDs, including EFP 
devices in NOV/DEC 2008. The Iranians subsequently threatened 
attacks targeting Georgian forces as punishment for the GoG's 
extradition of Iranian arms merchant Amir Ardebeli on 26 JAN 
08. 
 
  8.  (C)  Special Forces: The Georgian Special Forces 
Brigade recently reorganized into a battalion structure and 
has completed the move to a new base in the Dighomi area of 
Tbilisi.  ODC-Tbilisi is currently executing the Special 
Forces Capacity Building Program (SFCBP), for which SOCEUR is 
the executive agent.  Since this program is largely but not 
exclusively funded by 1206, there cannot be a specific 
linkage between the SFCBP and the deployment of Georgian 
Special Forces to Afghanistan, though that is the Georgian 
intent. The MOD hopes that when the first SF company 
completes the program in June 2008 that they will be 
certified for operations as a part of ISAF. The SFCBP has a 
focus on foreign internal defense, as that is what the most 
likely Georgian SOF mission in ISAF would be, though it 
includes advanced infantry skills and basic direct action 
missions.  Due to the specific needs of the unit, the SFCBP 
will be a composite of JCET training exercises and contractor 
based training. 
 
  9.  (U)  NATO and ISAF: The Georgian military leadership 
desires closer ties to NATO as well as continued close ties 
with the US military.  Georgia has offered to NATO company 
sized SF units for deployment to Afghanistan for six-months 
at a time, which we,ve folded into the SFCBP timeline. 
Georgia has additionally requested that these forces be 
geographically co-located with U.S. SOF within the ISAF 
theater, with the understanding that Georgian SF will work 
under ISAF while U.S. SOF will not.  Georgian is already 
participating in ISAF with a detail of medical professionals 
deployed in support of a Lithuanian PRT and the Georgians are 
in negotiations with the French and Dutch to assist them in 
Afghanistan as well. 
 
  10. (C) Current Trends: Rumors suggest that by the time of 
the delegations arrival that there will be an 
across-the-board promotion for senior military members. 
Current Chief of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Staff 
Colonel Zaza Gogava is rumored to be promoted to Brigadier 
General the week of 4-8 FEB, with all three Deputy Chiefs of 
Defense being promoted from LTC to COL. This is likely a 
response to NATO IS/IMS and several senior U.S. VIPs comments 
that the current Georgian military rank structure is a 
disadvantage for Georgia, and that the CHOD needs to be a 
General Officer. It is premature to think that these 
promotions herald the beginning of a serious effort to revise 
and rationalize the Georgian officer rank structure, though a 
program to do so has existed for at least six months. 
 
  11. (C) Minister of Defense Kezerashvili and his assistants 
continue to push ahead with reform programs.  The January 
2008 PARP assessment visit was largely positive noting 
meaningful progress in many areas, while noting the absence 
of evidence that more complex programs are being implemented 
(specifically, PPBS and the afore-mentioned uniformed human 
resources management program). 
 
  12. (C) The November protests, crackdown and subsequent 
state of emergency have done significant damage to Georgia,s 
MAP case to some NATO allies.  European countries that were 
reticent about Georgia,s accession to NATO for unrelated 
 
TBILISI 00000207  003 OF 003 
 
 
reasons (their relationship with Russia) now have ample 
ammunition to deny Georgia MAP for violations of democratic 
principles.  Georgia is attempting to regain the high ground 
after the fall crisis be redoubling it efforts on continued 
reform.  We should encourage this strategy. 
TEFFT

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