US Trained Georgian Commandos Just Prior to War

by Jason Ditz, September 07, 2008

As Dick Cheney’s four nation tour comes to an end, he once again took the opportunity to slam Russia over the recent war in Georgia, describing it as both “troublesome” and “unhelpful”. This comes at the same time Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has accused the US of deliberate provocation by using warships to deliver humanitarian aid, and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of orchestrating the fighting in Georgia for political reasons.

The White House has rejected the charges by Putin as “not rational,” but they have gained some traction in recent days after the Financial Times broke the story that senior US soldiers and contractors had provided combat training to Georgian commandos not long before the Georgian assault on the breakaway enclave of South Ossetia provoked the conflict with Russia. The trainers had returned to Georgia for a second round of training just days before the war began. US European Command spokesmen wouldn’t comment on the program at length, but an army spokesman insisted that the program was meant to train the Georgians for service in Afghanistan.

One of the contractors involved, MPRI, has a checkered history in its own right, including accusations that it facilitated the 1995 ethnic cleansing in southern Croatia which killed thousands of Serbs

The Pentagon’s “militarization” of defense aid has also received previous complaints from civilian aid agencies operating in Georgia, who feared that having the US military coordinating their operations could put them at risk if hostilities resume. Medvedev opined “I wonder how they would feel if we now dispatched humanitarian assistance to the Caribbean, suffering from a hurricane, using our navy”.

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