U.S. Army Tanks Landed in the Republic of Georgia for the First Time

Discussion in 'Europe' started by Falcon, May 10, 2016.

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  1. Falcon

    Falcon Lieutenant Colonel Staff Member Social Media Team

    Oct 10, 2015
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    On May 4, rail cars loaded with 70-ton M-1s and M-2 Bradley armored fighting vehicles rolled off a ferry at the port in the Georgian city of Batumi. The occasion is a three-week war game organized by the Georgian military and U.S. European Command.

    “This will be the first time that M-1A2 main battle tanks are transported into the country of Georgia,” Army captain Samuel Herbert — in charge of Company A, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment — told the service’s reporters. “This is significant for the Georgians because we can now work alongside the Georgian T-72 main battle tank.”

    The M-1 dates to the 1970s, but the newest version of the tank boasts advanced computers to help its crew aim the 120-millimeter gun on the move plus powerful optics to cut through dust and see at night and the latest communications and navigation gear. Since at least 2006, the Army has been working to give the massive tanks new, deadlier ammunition and other improvements.

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    Georgian tankers still drive the significantly smaller and lighter — 45 tons — Soviet-era T-72, though some have been upgraded to the new SIM-1 configuration. Among other improvements, the SIM-1 package includes a Polish night-vision sight with a laser rangefinder plus new radios.

    While Georgia is not a member of NATO, the alliance nevertheless works closely with the country’s troops. One stated goal of the current war game is to get a company of around 200 Georgian soldiers ready for its upcoming participation in the NATO Response Force, or NRF.

    With a total of around 40,000 troops from inside and outside of NATO, this unit is on call to respond, in a matter of weeks, to crises anywhere in the world. Individual countries contribute troops to the NRF on 12-month rotations.

    In addition to helping train the Georgians for routine tasks, the Pentagon no doubt hopes its tanks will make impressions in Moscow and in the capitals of America’s European allies.

    “It is now clear Russia does not share common security objectives with the West,” U.S. Air Force general Philip Breedlove, the head of European Command and also NATO’s top officer, said in a February statement. “Instead, it continues to view the United States and NATO as a threat to its own security.”

    With the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, Washington started drawing down its troops in Europe. The Army stood down its last tank units on the continent in 2013.

    Less than a year later in March 2014, Russia invaded and annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region. Four months after that, U.S. president Barack Obama announced new troop rotations, more air and sea patrols and — most importantly — more money for military activities in Europe as part of the so-called “European Reassurance Initiative.”

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  2. Pathfinder

    Pathfinder Lieutenant Colonel

    Dec 17, 2015
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    Thats a serious amount of armor, the article is right that this is significant but if they are not going to be permanently based there then I don't think its a big deal.

    The Russians are putting a lot of effort into Georgia as well. They are trying to win its people over:

    "For most Georgians, Europe is little more than a fantasy that comes to life on the streets of Tbilisi’s fancy tourist quarter. Just around the corner from swanky bars and chic boutiques, hardship persists: children scrounge for cigarettes. Half-finished high-rise buildings, in which whole families live in poverty and without basic services, are dotted with satellite dishes that mostly broadcast Russian programs. They deliver a powerful message to Georgian homes: You belong to us.

    Russian is the strongest foreign language spoken in Georgia, with English coming a distant second. Along with the language, the common Christian Orthodox faith provides a strong cultural tie with Moscow. Europe may be a desire here, but Russia is family, despite painful quarrels.

    Russia has long used culture and religion as a tool of power and influence beyond its borders. Recently, Georgia has again become the main target of Moscow’s propaganda. For the most part, it has successfully poked holes into Georgia’s pro-EU consensus.

    Europe’s mistake

    About 60 percent of Georgians still support accession, according to David Aprasidze, a political science professor at Ilia State University, located on the outskirts of Tbilisi. Aprasidze was a PhD student in Germany and students chatting outside his office look like they are in a London hipster café. Many have studied at major universities in various EU capitals. For these young Georgians, Europe is no longer a fantasy, but a reality.

    “We know the propaganda, all the talk saying that Europe despises us” — Zura Kobadze, political science student

    However, “many people here are beginning to wonder if Europe is serious about them,” Aprasidze said. There has been positive impact from Brussels, he explained: The EU has helped break monopolies in Georgia’s energy sector and has elevated food safety standards, for example. But these are technical procedures that can’t win over Georgians’ hearts, Aprasidze said, stressing that it was a mistake that the European Commission has from the outset excluded Georgia from the accession process.

    The EU is simply doing too little to keep Georgians on board. “It’s not enough to say: just become like us, it will do you good,” Aprasidze said.

    While Europe aims to export democracy to the South Caucasus, it is denying Georgia the prospect of one day joining the European club. Even though changing governments have been outspoken on their intention to become an EU member, the country has never been granted candidate status. Moreover, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has ruled out further admissions for the duration of his term, saying that the EU needs time to accommodate the last group of new members.

    In addition, EU policymakers are reluctant to get involved in Georgia’s ongoing tensions with Russia."

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