Almost three weeks after hostilities began between Russia and Georgia, about 100 U.S. troops are deployed to the Caucasus-region country, military officials said. Included in that number are some of the military trainers who were wrapping up an exercise in Georgia when the conflict began.
Those trainers have been transitioned into the European Command’s Joint Assessment Team, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nancy Harrity, a U.S. European Command spokeswoman. "It would be fair to say that they will be part of the team as long as their expertise is required," she said.
Of the 115 U.S. trainers in Georgia when the fighting began, roughly 70 were still in the country as of late last week, working in various capacities to support the relief effort.
Earlier this month, troops from Southern European Task Force, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, the U.S. Georgia Army National Guard, and the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, engaged in a three-week training exercise in Georgia with the country’s 4th Infantry Brigade soldiers.
When the conflict with Russian forces began in Georgia, two U.S. troops were still at the Georgian military base where they conducted the training exercise.
Later, when U.S. planes began delivering humanitarian assistance to Georgia, the U.S. troops already in country ensured the supplies were loaded onto trucks bound for centers for displaced residents.
The assessment team may eventually review Georgia’s military needs in light of its conflict with Russia, according to the group’s commander.
During a press conference in Tbilisi on Thursday, Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili said his country’s military needs to be rebuilt.
"We need to have this country defended, and we need new people trained," he said. "We need new equipment, and we will work very closely with the U.S. to get all of this."