US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin says the United States values Georgia as a strong strategic partner and its support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is ‘unwavering.’
Speaking of the Georgia Defense and Deterrence Enhancement Initiative, the Pentagon chief believes it will serve as a focal point for security corporation between the United States Department of Defence, the Georgian Ministry of Defence and the Georgian Defence Forces.
“Now, for more than three years, the Georgia Defense Readiness Program has been a foundation of our efforts to build Georgia’s defense capacity and readiness. That program is set to conclude at the end of this year, so today I’m honored to join the Minister to announce the Georgia Defense and Deterence Enhancement Initiative. This initiative will serve as a focal point for our security cooperation between the United States Department of Defense, the Georgian Ministry of Defense, and the Georgian Defense Forces. This marks an exciting new phase of bilateral security cooperation between our countries. We are going to build upon the Georgia Defense Readiness Program by continuing institutional reform in the defense sector by strengthening the capabilities and the capacities required for effective deterrence and defense, by fostering interoperability with NATO, and modernizing and developing the Georgian Ministry of Defense and the Georgian Defense Forces,” Lloyd Austin underscored.
I’m honored to join Minister Burchuladze in signing a Memorandum of Understanding on the Georgia Defense and Deterrence Enhancement Initiative. This initiative marks a new phase of our bilateral security cooperation, and it demonstrates the U.S. commitment to supporting Georgia. pic.twitter.com/LSlOts33gw
— Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III (@SecDef) October 18, 2021
US Secretary of Defense believes the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed today “will advance our shared security interests and strengthen our partnership. The success of this initiative will require close cooperation between our countries so that we stay on track toward our common goals.”
“The memorandum of understanding that the Minister and I just signed acknowledges our work together, and it demonstrates our shared commitment to the success of this initiative. It also underscores the Department of Defense’s enduring policy of helping Georgia to defend itself, to deter aggression, and to further its Euro-Atlantic integration. At the same time, the Georgian government must do its part by leveraging U.S. support to strengthen Georgia’s democracy and to make fundamental reforms to bring Georgia even closer to the West,” Lloyd Austin stated.
Lloyd Austin thanked the Minister, the Georgian Defense Forces, and the Georgian people for their steadfast support of U.S. and NATO efforts in Afghanistan.
“As a veteran of the Afghan war, I’m especially grateful for all that you’ve done. Georgia played an outsized role in this mission. Georgian troops bravely served shoulder to shoulder with their American comrades in arms, building bonds between our countries that transcend cultural and linguistic differences. Georgia has paid a heavy price with 32 killed in action and 293 wounded in Afghanistan. The United States honors their sacrifice, and we’re deeply grateful to all of the Georgian people, to all the troops who served, to those who answered the call to serve, and their families. Our collective effort in Afghanistan is a testament to the strength of our strategic partnership and our shared interests and values,” Pentagon chief added.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Georgia today as part of his trip to Europe ahead of NATO Defense Ministerial.