US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will hold a meeting with his Georgian counterpart, Juansher Burchuladze in Tbilisi on Monday, during which the defense chiefs will sign a bilateral agreement aimed at strengthening Georgia’s defense capability, the Georgian Defense Ministry said.
Austin arrived in the Georgian capital earlier in the day.
“Today, Georgian Defense Minister Juansher Burchuladze will host Lloyd Austin at the Ministry of Defense. After the official welcoming ceremony, the Georgian and American counterparts will hold a bilateral meeting to discuss defense cooperation between the United States and Georgia … It is planned to sign an agreement between the Ministry of Defense of Georgia and the US Department of Defense, which aims to strengthen Georgia’s defense capabilities and its deterrent potential,” the official statement said.
Austin is also scheduled to meet with Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili. The US defense minister will visit a Georgian army base and attend the joint exercises of the American and Georgian military personnel.
“The official visit of the US Secretary of Defense to Georgia, Georgia’s main strategic partner, once again confirms the outstanding cooperation between the two countries in the field of defense. This visit will further deepen ties and strengthen partnerships between our countries,” the ministry said.
The Pentagon announced on Friday that Austin would travel to Europe to visit Georgia, Ukraine, and Romania, as well as participate in the meeting of NATO defense ministers in Belgium from Thursday-Friday.
During his meetings with the European counterparts, the US defense chief is expected to discuss cooperation in the Black Sea region, among other regional and global security contexts. He is also expected to comment on Georgia’s and Ukraine’s prospects for NATO membership.
US-Georgia Military Drills
Earlier in July, US Army launched a military exercise called “Agile Spirit” with the Georgian military.
The brigade-level exercise incorporated a simulated command post exercise, field training, and joint multinational, battalion-level combined arms live-fire exercises. Agile Spirit 2021 was aimed at enhancing U.S., Georgian, allied and regional partner forces’ readiness and interoperability in a realistic training environment.
This is the 10th Agile Spirit exercise. First conducted in Georgia in 2011, Agile Spirit was an annual U.S. Marine Forces Europe exercise between the US and the Georgian military forces.
Beginning in 2018, Agile Spirit transitioned to a biennial US Army Europe and Africa exercise, part of the US European Command’s Joint Exercise Program, executed in odd number years.
Two major objectives have stayed consistent throughout each iteration – increasing interoperability among participating nation militaries and strengthening regional security cooperation.
Approximately 2,500 military personnel from 15 allied and partner forces participated from the following nations: Georgia (host nation), Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Italy, and Azerbaijan.
United States units participating include U.S. Army Europe and Africa, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, 7th Army Training Command, 173rd Airborne Brigade, 1st Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade, Georgia Army National Guard, US Special Operations Command Europe, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, and US Naval Forces Europe-Africa.
This year is the first time where a combined multinational airborne operation with participation from Georgia, United Kingdom, and Poland will occur. Also, for the first time Special Operation Forces from Georgia, United States, United Kingdom, Romania and Poland will perform combined operations at Sorta Training area, Georgia.
- Via Sputnik News Agency
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