Georgian Republic soldier missing in Afghanistan

KABUL — A Georgian soldier is missing in southern Afghanistan, and troops have launched a search and rescue effort.

The International Security Assistance Force, as the international military coalition in Afghanistan is known, has released few details about the soldier or the circumstances surrounding the soldier’s disappearance, citing operational security.

According to a statement from the Georgian Defense Ministry, the soldier went missing Wednesday and a search and rescue mission is being conducted by Regional Command — Southwest, which encompasses Helmand and Nimroz provinces. The statement says the circumstances of the soldier’s disappearance are unknown and that Georgian units in Afghanistan have been moved to “the highest security alert posture.”

Georgia, with just 4.5 million inhabitants, is the largest contributor of troops to Afghanistan among non-NATO nations, with more than 1,500 troops in the country. This year, the small nation in the Caucasus mountains nearly doubled its troop commitment at a time when many nations are withdrawing troops.

This appears to be the first such case of an International Security Assistance Force servicemember disappearing in Afghanistan since U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was captured by insurgents in 2009. Despite numerous search and rescue operations and a failed escape attempt, he is still missing and believed to be held by the Haqqani network. A British soldier was abducted and murdered by the Taliban in Helmand in July 2011.

Twitter: @Druzin_Stripes

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