NATO Integration

Who Claims that the U.S. does not Assist Georgia, but Rather Georgia’s Budget Assists the U.S.?

22 April, 2021

Gogava, head of Development Laboratory of Georgia, a local non-governmental organization, published a post on his Facebook page about the decision made by the United States and the Coalition to withdraw all troops involved in Resolute Support Mission (RSM) from Afghanistan before September 11th. In his post published on April 15, Gogava calculates monetary value of assistance provided by Georgia to the United States by involving over 20,000 military personnel in Afghan missions over the past 17 years.

“It costs the United States from USD 400,000 to USD 2.1 billion per year to keep one American soldier in various foreign missions at different times … Thus, Georgia has provided at least USD 8 billion assistance to the U.S. and the Coalition by sending its troops,” Gogava writes.

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Irakli Gogava’s post was immediately picked up by Facebook page კონსერვატიული პლატფორმა (Conservative Platform) and shared to public group ✅🇬🇪ერთობა🇬🇪✅ (Unity).

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Alt-Info TV has voiced the same arguments when Tatia Gabritchidze, host of Alt-Interview, focused on Georgia’s USD 8 billion aid allegedly provided to the United States, while the guest of the program, Bondo Mdzinarashvili, who is a member of the Georgian Public Broadcaster’s Board of Trustees, noted that the U.S. has a debt to small countries participating in international missions. He also said that under the U.S. legislation, it costs the country much more to keep its own soldiers than Georgian troops and that Georgia has “to make a contribution to receive aid from the United States.”

Bondo Mdzinarashvili: “Philanthropic countries do not exist… The United States also has a debt to small countries participating in international missions, but let’s say that we have made a huge contribution to this process… Under the U.S. legislation, it costs the country much more to keep its own soldiers and pay compensations in case of their death compared to Georgian troops… and we also have “to make a certain contribution to receive aid from the United States.”

The hosts of Alt-Analytics also spoke about the same issue:

Zura Makharadze: “We have received aid worth about USD 6 billion during the past 30 years, while only troops sent by us to war are worth USD 8 billion… when some people think that we are sticking to the Americans like a leech, from financial point of view…[Giorgi Kardava: when we promptly unmasked Russians after being dictated by the Americans…] Zura Makharadze: We do not know how much it costs… The level of their [U.S.] interference here is so high … we have no debts to anyone.”

In the interview with Georgia and World, Lieutenant-General Guram Nikolaishvili of the Alliance of Patriots party also spoke about Georgia’s involvement in the NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. He claims that part of anti-tank javelin missiles owned by Georgian Defense Forces were used in Afghanistan. “We are paying our own money to purchase weapons from the United States and then to use them in the U.S.-led war, which has nothing to do with us,” Nikolaishvili says.

The claims voiced by Irakli Gogava and Alt-Info as if Georgia has provided USD 8 billion aid to the United States in Afghanistan are manipulative. Raising this claim in the context of the aid provided by the U.S. to Georgia since the day of gaining independence by the country aims at demonstrating that not the U.S. assists Georgia, but rather Georgia assists the United States. 

The claim as if anti-tank javelin missiles purchased by Georgia were used in Afghanistan is not true and the Defense Ministry of Georgia also denied the information. 
  
Why USD 8 billion? 

In his post, Irakli Gogava relies on the report released by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) in 2013, discussing the U.S. FY2014 Defense Budget. According to the report, the FY 2014 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget, submitted as a separate budget amendment in May 2013, requests USD 79.4 billion for operations in Afghanistan. In addition, the budget assumes that the level of U.S. forces in Afghanistan will gradually decline through FY 2014 as the combat mission ends, with an average end strength of 38,431 in FY 2014 compared to 63,181 in FY 2013. Based on the same data, the cost per service member deployed to Afghanistan rose to USD 2.1 million in FY 2014 that coincides with the upper limit named by Gogava. However, the same subchapter of the same report provides identical figures for 2008-2013, according to which the cost per service member deployed to Afghanistan had never been less than USD 1 million. 

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Source: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

Apparently, the lower limit of statistical data provided in the post – USD 400,000 - is based on other alternative calculations.

Gogava seems to use this figure – USD 400,000 and multiply it to the number of Georgian soldiers serving in the ISAF and RSM missions in Afghanistan since 2004. As a result of such multiplication, he concluded that “Georgia has provided at least USD 8 billion assistance to the U.S. and the Coalition by sending its military personnel.” 
Speaking about the cost of the war in Afghanistan, Dov Zakheim, a former chief financial officer for the Defense Department, said that USD 1 million price tag includes getting the soldier to Afghanistan, getting his equipment to Afghanistan, and moving the soldier around once in the country. For example, in 2014, when the cost per service member deployed to Afghanistan rose to USD 2.1 million, due to the closure of the ISAF mission, a huge portion of the budget was actually spent on closing military bases and shipping equipment and personnel back to the United States. 

In addition, part of the DoD’s funds for Afghanistan mission are used to train, equip, and sustain the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, as well as to cover military expenses of other countries participating in the peacekeeping mission. 

It is noteworthy that according to the Georgian Defense Ministry’s Handbook of Defense Programs, to cover some expenses related to participation in international missions, Georgia’s Defense Ministry periodically receives aid from partners. For example, expenses related to sending troops to Afghanistan are covered by the U.S. and Germany.

Georgia’s participation in NATO-led international mission in Afghanistan and cooperation with the U.S. 

The Georgian Defense Forces joined the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan in August 2004. Following the end of the ISAF mission, Georgia has joined NATO’s Resolute Support Mission (RSM) since 2015. According to the decision made by the coalition forces, Georgian troops will withdraw from Afghanistan along with partner states’ troops in coming months.

According to the Georgian Defense Ministry’s data for 2020, the total expenditure of Georgian troops’ participation in international missions amounted to GEL 45.01 million. Almost equal amount was spent during previous years – GEL 43.57 million in 2019 and GEL 38.22 million in 2018 that is less than 5% of the country’s annual defense budget.

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The United States finances the training of Georgian troops involved in the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan through its Coalition Readiness Support Program. According to Security Assistance Monitor, a program of the Center for International Policy, the amount allocated for military education and training as well as direct military financing allocated to Georgia amounted to USD 355 million in 2004-2020.
 
During the same period, Georgia received a total of USD 1.22 billion from the United States to increase its defense capacities and implement training and equipment programs.

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Besides the U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF), since FY2010, Georgia has received U.S. military aid primarily through FMF, Department of Defense capacity-building programs, and Coalition Support Funds.

Georgia’s state budget for 2021 has allocated USD 33 million for international peacekeeping missions that is approximately USD 9.5 million, according to the National Bank’s April 22 exchange rate ($1=3.45 Lari).

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See detailed information about the U.S.-funded projects on training and raising qualification of Georgian troops in Myth Detector’s earlier articles:

U.S. aid to Georgia

Alt-Info’s host promotes an opinion that the United States does not assist Georgia, but rather Georgia assists the U.S. financially. In fact, during 28 years – from 1992 to 2020 – Georgia received a total USD 4 348 400 000 aid from the United States.

For FY2021, Congress appropriated USD 132 million in bilateral aid to Georgia, including USD 35 million in FMF

Does Georgian Defense Ministry use javelins in Afghanistan?

Lt. Gen. Guram Nikolaishvili’s claim as if Georgia has purchased javelins from the United States to use them in Afghanistan and as if part of them have already been used is not true. The Defense Ministry’s StratCom also confirmed it in a statement published on its Facebook page on April 12. According to the statement, modern defense equipment purchased by Georgia aims at building the country’s defense capacities and ensuring its security.

purpose of spreading such “fake news” is to make the public believe that the support of our partners, including our main strategic partner, the United States, does not aim to strengthen Georgia, but rather to use the population and resources of our country for the benefit of their country,” the statement reads.


Prepared by Salome Giunashvili
Myth Detector Lab


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