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Georgian soldiers accused of stealing from Bagram base store

Street art at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan on Nov. 30, 2016. A group of Georgian soldiers is suspected of stealing thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from an exchange store recently at Bagram, according to preliminary investigation results, military officials said.

By PHILLIP WALTER WELLMAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 31, 2018

KABUL, Afghanistan — A group of Georgian soldiers is suspected of stealing about $3,600 worth of merchandise from a shop at Bagram Air Field, military officials said Tuesday.

The investigation was launched after a recent heist at an Army and Air Force Exchange Service store on Bagram, the largest base in Afghanistan. It hasn’t been revealed what the stolen merchandise was.

U.S. military investigators found “probable cause” of the Georgians’ involvement, said Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell, a spokesman for U.S. Forces – Afghanistan.

Their findings have since been given to the senior Georgian military representative at the base, to be passed on to Georgia’s Defense Ministry for review, O’Donnell said.

Four Georgian servicemembers are suspected of stealing from the shop, the ministry said Sunday in a statement, which expressed embarrassment over the alleged incident.

“The actions of individual military personnel” aren’t representative of the overall peacekeeping contingent, the statement said.

Although Georgia is not a member of NATO, it is the fourth-largest troop contributor to the alliance’s mission in Afghanistan, with 870 soldiers. Georgian soldiers focus on security and rapid reaction force operations. They are stationed in Bagram, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif.

Since Georgia joined the coalition in 2004, 29 of its soldiers have died in Afghanistan, according to icasualties.org. which tracks deaths in the war.

wellman.phillip@stripes.com
Twitter: @pwwellman

The Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, exchange store in 2016. A group of Georgian soldiers is suspected of stealing thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from the shop recently, according to preliminary investigation results, military officials said.

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