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Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John C. Rood met at the Pentagon with Georgian Defense Minister Levan Izoria to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and to underscore the importance of the U.S.-Georgia defense relationship.

In their May 20 meeting, the leaders discussed regional security and a broad range of topics, including joint operations in Afghanistan. Rood expressed appreciation for Georgia’s top per capita force contributions in Afghanistan and steadfast commitment to serve alongside U.S. forces until the mission is complete, Pentagon officials said.

Rood commended Georgia’s role model defense reform efforts and robust defense spending at 2% of its gross domestic product. The leaders also reviewed future acquisitions and the continued development of Georgia’s combat readiness and  self-sustaining institutional capacity through the Georgia Defense Readiness Program. The Defense Department looks forward to increased training opportunities in Georgia, he said.

Longstanding Defense Relationship

The talks depict the strong and longstanding bilateral defense relationship between the United States and Georgia, officials said, calling it a key pillar of the U.S.-Georgia strategic partnership.

Pentagon officials noted some key points about Georgia as a U.S. partner:

 — In Afghanistan, Georgia is the top per capita, top non-NATO, fifth overall contributor of forces to NATO’s Resolute Support mission. Since 2009, Georgia has lost 32 soldiers killed in action and more than 290 wounded in action.

— In 2017, the United States and Georgia launched the bilateral Georgia Defense Readiness Program. U.S. and Georgian forces are partnering to increase Georgia’s self-sustainable institutional capacity to generate, train and sustain forces, improving combat readiness for territorial defense.

— Georgia spends 2% of its gross domestic product on defense and more than 20% on equipment modernization, a key example of burden-sharing.

— From 2018-2019, Georgia procured the U.S. Javelin weapon system with 100% national funds, a total expenditure of $65 million. This sale demonstrated that Georgia is a U.S. strategic partner entrusted with sensitive defense technology.

— Georgia leads the way in military reform with an ambitions force restructure plan. As the United States transitions from training provider to training partner, Georgia is developing a combat training center that will increase opportunities for multinational training and exercises.