US tanks head for Tbilisi as NATO flexes muscles in ‘largest ever’ joint drills with Georgia

Monday, July 31, 2017
By Paul Martin
31 Jul, 2017

American tanks and armored vehicles headed for Tbilisi, Georgia, on Monday, local media reported. The “largest” NATO-led war games with Georgia are part of the bloc’s recent activities in the vicinity of Russia’s borders.

US Abrams tanks and Bradley armored personnel carriers (APCs) made their way through western Georgia to Tbilisi, local media said, noting that stops have been made so that locals can get a closer look at the military vehicles.

The war games with the Caucasian state kicked off at the Vaziani and Camp Norio training areas near Tbilisi on Sunday.

The drills, considered “the largest ever” between Georgia and NATO, will run for two weeks, with some 2,800 military personnel from NATO states and their partners – the US, UK, Germany, Turkey, Slovenia, Armenia, Ukraine and Georgia – taking part. The latter three states are not members of the alliance but “voluntarily contribute” to NATO forces, according to a US Army Europe statement.

The maneuvers are aimed at “the training, evaluation and eventual certification of Georgia’s second light infantry company contribution to the NATO Response Force (NRF) for 2017,” the US military said.

The hosting country considers the war games a way to provide stability for the region, moving the county closer to integration into NATO.

“These exercises will help Georgia to get closer to NATO standards and to strengthen stability in the whole region,” Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili said at the opening ceremony on Sunday, as cited by Reuters.

During a visit to Georgia, US Vice President Mike Pence will attend the military exercises and address participants on Tuesday.

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