Monday, July 30, 2007

That ain't the Georgia National Guard

While we are talking about the nations in Iraq that you will never hear about from the MSM - let us take a moment to say, "thanks, Shipmate" to the small, poor, but American loving friend that we have in the Republic of Georgia. They know how to cowboy up.
He is one of the 1,200 extra troops that Georgia is sending to Iraq to join the U.S.-led coalition. When the troops are fully deployed, Georgia will have the third-largest number of troops in Iraq, after the United States and the United Kingdom.
But it isn't just the number of troops that has been boosted, but also their role.

Around 800 Georgian troops have been serving in Iraq since 2004, but, for the most part, not in a frontline role.

But the new Georgian troops will take on a more high-profile responsibility: patrolling the border with Iran to stop the smuggling of weapons and other goods.

RFE/RL military analyst Koba Liklikadze says it will be a challenging operation.

"Before, Georgian units just participated in the control of checkpoints and organization, in Ba'qubah, and in the so-called Green Zone in Baghdad," Liklikadze says.

"Now the contribution is very significant from Georgian soldiers [and] it's a very new and significant challenge for Georgian soldiers. They will lead this operation in this very huge area. "

For the most part, only U.S. and British forces in the coalition have taken part in combat operations.

Troops from other countries tend to be deployed in support roles, providing security or logistics. Countries often send troops for specialized tasks like engineering, bomb disposal, or providing field hospitals.

To date, no Georgian soldiers have been killed in Iraq and only a few have been wounded. But Liklikadze says the new mission along the Iran-Iraq border carries a much higher risk.

Chris Parker, a retired British lieutenant colonel who served as the chief of staff for the British 7th Armored Division in Iraq, says the enhanced role of Georgian troops could be a sign of things to come.

"On the political level, I think [the United States and United Kingdom] will be delighted to see more aggressive posture -- in terms of determination to get into the more dangerous roles -- from other coalition members," Parker says.

"Of course that helps on the political level to allay any fears of their own populace, in America or Britain, who perceive that their own countries are taking all the hard work and other countries less so."
And for lesser nations who were born into freedom and therefor can spit on it with abandon (Hat tip Ayaan) - or those who will happily let others fight for their freedom, but won't lift a finger to help others get theirs - here are the stats for Georgia - compared to, say, Belgium:
Population: Georgia: 4,646,003 Belgium: 10,392,226

--GDP Overall PPP:
Georgia: $17.88 billion Belgium: $342.8 billion
GDP Per Capita: Georgia: $3,800 Belgium: $33,000
In Iraq: Georgia: 1,200; no caveats Belgium: none
In Afghanistan:
Georgia: 50-100 in the recent past; present offer of SOF. Belgium: 300. Loaded with caveats, only guarding the airport.

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