WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2012 — Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta today called Georgian Defense Minister Bachana Akhalaia to express his condolences for the Feb. 21 deaths of three Georgian soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
The soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in Helmand province.
The secretary thanked his Georgian counterpart for his country’s continued support to the International Security Assistance Force mission, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said. Panetta also praised the exceptional performance of Georgian soldiers serving in Afghanistan, he added.
Helmand province is located within ISAF’s Regional Command Southwest. NATO officials said Georgia has contributed ISAF troops since 2004 and currently has 935 service members in Afghanistan, mostly in Regional Command Capital and Regional Command South.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in November during a visit to Georgia’s capital of Tbilisi that Georgia is “on the right track” to full membership in the alliance.
In all, 15 Georgian troops have been killed in Afghanistan.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)