From: MSN Nicknamepsychoteddybear24 (Original Message) Sent: 3/22/2007 10:25 AM
GEORGIA CREATES ARMY RESERVES
The president wants the capacity to call up 100,000 men.
By Koba Liklikadze in Tbilisi
Georgia is moving towards creating a compulsory system of reserve soldiers,
which President Mikheil Saakashvili says will transform its defence
capabilities. However, critics say the new system will only increase corruption
in the armed forces.
The new system being launched this month obliges all men between 27 and 40 to
undergo 24 days training in the army every two years, or 18 days if they are
students. Employees must cover their salaries during their leave of absence.
Saakashvili said that within the next two years, Georgia will have a
well-drilled 100,000-strong force of reservists who can guarantee the "total
defence" of the country, alongside the regular units.
The president himself underwent army reserve training last August, and said on
his return, "In a situation where others are baring their teeth at Georgia - and
this is no game - we should have the capacity to deploy a minimum of 100,000 men
within a few months, if the country needs this.
"In our villages and towns, there should be tens of thousands or even hundreds
of thousands of our citizens who are ready to defend our motherland."
The reserve system began as a voluntary scheme three years ago, but after a
relatively low take-up, it was made compulsory under a law passed by parliament
De facto officials from Georgia's breakaway territories, Abkhazia and South
Ossetia, say the fact that reservist camps have been placed near their borders
is a sign of aggressive intent on the part of the authorities in Tbilisi.
"This is a demonstration that the authorities of Georgia want as many of their
citizens as possible to have experience of military operations," said Gari
Kupalba, deputy defence minister of Abkhazia.
Rati Samkurashvili, leader of the majority group in the Georgian parliament,
told IWPR, "We do not plan to militarise the country; our main aim is to
increase its military efficiency."
Formally, all Georgian males aged between 18 and 27, excepting students, are
required to do 18 months' military service. However, just 2,000 young men a year
are actually called up, and many others manage to bribe their way out of the
army. Georgia has been moving away from conscription, and 80 per cent of the
28,000-strong army consists of professional soldiers.