Panetta Offers Condolences for Georgian Soldiers

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)