• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • In Afghanistan, France Retreats While Georgia Advances

    During the same week that France announced it has retreated early from Afghanistan, the tiny NATO-aspirant country of Georgia announced that it has doubled its troop contribution to the NATO-led mission.

    The Taliban, unsurprisingly, issued a statement calling on other NATO members to follow France’s example. For the sake of the alliance and the future of Afghanistan, let’s hope NATO follows Georgia’s lead instead.

    While many NATO countries are rushing for the door in Afghanistan, Georgia has been the only country to commit more troops to the mission this year, doubling its contribution in Helmand Province. By some estimates, this makes Georgia the largest per capita troop-contributing nation in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

    Georgia is also the largest non-NATO troop contributor to the mission in Afghanistan, slightly edging out Australia. However, while Australia also plans to leave the mission early, there are no such plans for an early Georgian withdrawal.

    Nor are Georgian troops in some cushy location in the north or the west of the country where fighting is at a minimum. The vast majority of the Georgian contingent is operating in Helmand Province in the volatile south, fighting and dying alongside the U.S. Marines operating there. The Georgians have lost a total of 18 soldiers in Afghanistan since joining the mission in November 2009.

    None of this should really come as a surprise. Georgia is a serious actor when it comes to transatlantic security. During the Russian invasion in 2008, Georgia was the second largest troop contributor in Iraq after the United States. The Georgians have also contributed to peacekeeping missions in the Balkans. Furthermore, they spend approximately 4 percent of GDP on defense—far higher than the pathetic European average of 1.6 percent.

    The recent Georgian deployment is welcome considering that many members of the new governing coalition, the Georgian Dream Coalition, have spoken out against Georgia’s contribution to the mission in Afghanistan. One senior Georgian Dream official described Georgian troops in Afghanistan as “cannon fodder.”

    Now compare Georgia’s commitment to the mission with France’s.

    During the 2012 presidential elections, French President François Hollande campaigned on bringing all French troops home from Afghanistan by the end of the year. Clearly, Hollande is a politician who actually lives up to his campaign promises, as it was announced that the French combat mission in Afghanistan ended this week. This is a full two years ahead of the NATO-agreed timeline.

    As a result, NATO will have to fill a gap of 3,300 troops in the geographically important Kapisa Province between Kabul and the Pakistani border. Kapisa Province has been described as the gateway to Kabul and is a key part of the battlefield during an important stage of the campaign. The last thing that ISAF commanders need right now is a withdrawal of more than 3,200 French troops—but thanks to French Socialists, this is exactly what they got.

    It is a shame that the news of this significant Georgian deployment will barely be reported in the Western media. A tiny country in the South Caucasus continues to give so much, while France throws in the towel two years early. Credit should be given where credit is due.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    2 Responses to In Afghanistan, France Retreats While Georgia Advances

    1. Kasey says:

      No news here. The French always quit when the going gets tough. The Arc De Triomphe should be moved to a more useful location!

    2. Kevin D, San Diego says:

      Despite the stereotypes about the french, historically they've been a strong nation. Their spot on the world stage is slipping though as they succumb more and more to socialism and weak family structure/morals

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×