U.S. starts training Georgian military

Friday, May 31, 2002

WASHINGTON -- U.S. training of military officers in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia will make it harder for terrorists to find safe haven in the region, the commander of the American trainers said Thursday.

Lt. Col. Robert M. Waltemeyer said some 70 Green Berets and other trainers have begun their 21-month program of helping upgrade the Georgian military.

The $64 million U.S. program, which also will give Georgians weapons, ammunition, uniforms, communications and other equipment, is part of a global counterterrorism effort that expands on the war in Afghanistan, the military adviser program in the Philippines and a training program in Yemen.

The Pentagon has said the training would help the Georgian army "address the situation in the Pankisi Gorge," a lawless area of northeast Georgia where Washington says terrorists linked to al-Qaida may be sheltered among Muslim guerrillas.

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