TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgian soldiers are leaving the U.S. military base Leatherneck in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, as it is being closed down.
According to the Ministry of Defense, the closure of the base is related to the transfer of security responsibility to the Afghan National Security Forces, which is due to be completed by the end of 2014, when the ISAF mission will end.
About a month ago, Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Alasania said that the maximum number of soldiers which Georgia will send to the post-ISAF mission from 2015 is 750.
The first Georgian contingent to leave for Afghanistan was in 2004 with 50 soldiers who served under German command.
In May 2013, the Georgian contingent was placed under US Command. In October 2012 the number of Georgian soldiers in Afghanistan was 1,600.
Soldiers are replaced by what is called rotation.
29 Georgian soldiers have died while serving in Afghanistan. In June 2013, seven Georgians died as result of an attack on a base. 150 have been wounded while serving in ISAF. Some of them are still receiving medical treatment.
According to the Ministry of Defense, 23rd Battalion marked the end of the ISAF mission at Base Leatherneck with a special ceremony. The Georgian flag was lowered.
Sergeant of the battalion, Levan Jangirashvili, personally gave Georgian flag to Deputy Head of Georgia’s Joint Staff Roman Jokhadze.
Brigade General Daniel Yoo, Commander of Task Force Belleau Wood Colonel Peter Baumgarten and Joseph Anderson, commanding general of International Security Assistance Force Joint Command attended the event.
23rd battalion served at Base Leatherneck for four months. It is the last Georgian subdivision which fulfilled the mission under Georgian flag in Helmand province.
Colonel Roman Jokhadze met the Georgian military servicemen at the camp “Orbi” along with Senior Representative of the Georgian Armed Forces to the ISAF mission Colonel Joni Tatunashvili and Battalion Commander LTC Zurab Khvichia.