Georgia’s Defense Ministry Reinstates Compulsory Military Service

TBILISI – Georgian Defense Minister Levan Izoria said Monday that compulsory military conscription would be reinstated only months after his predecessor Tina Khidasheli abolished the practice just before she left office in August.

Izoria said he ordered compulsory military service to be reinstated because Georgia’s small population cannot provide enough professional contract soldiers to deal with the country numerous security threats.

He also added that compulsory service is less costly for the government as the state is forced to pay professional soldiers an average salary of $11,000 per year, while annual expenditures for conscript soldiers come in at just under $3,700.

Izoria claims that compulsory service also helps Georgia’s ethnic minorities integrate more smoothly with their Georgian counterparts and helps raise civic awareness amongst the conscripted soldiers.

Under the new regulations, conscripts will receive better training and housing and given weekend furloughs for official holidays.

Izoria’s predecessor, Khidasheli - Georgia’s first female defense minister, abolished compulsory military conscription on June 27. 

Her decision, however, never took full effect as two other ministries retained the right to continue drafting young people into their service.

About 25 per cent of all eligible conscripts typically serves in the Defense Ministry, while the remainder are placed under the authority of the Interior Ministry.

Ex-Defense Minister Khidasheli blasted Izoria’s main decision, saying the Soviet-era practice of conscription is costly and generally results in poorly trained, unmotivated soldiers.

“The Minister says that recruits will undergo elite-level training, which means the cost will also increase,” stated Khidasheli.

Khidasheli accused Izoria delaying his plan  to restore the mandatory military service until after Georgia’s October parliamentary elections, as he feared a political backlash against the ruling Georgian Dream Party if is plan became known to the public.

By Thea Morrison

Edited by Nicholas Waller

08 November 2016 21:56