Pentagon Set to Increase Military Aid to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine


Following the State Department’s budget request to boost military aid to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine for FY 2016, the Defense Department appears to be following suit with a request to increase military assistance through its European Reassurance Fund to these countries. The aim of the aid to Georgia is “to defend themselves and to enable their participation as full operational partners within NATO…” and “strengthen deterrence against aggressive actions by Russia….”

Two weeks ago, the U.S. military also moved a U.S. battle armor company into Georgia for the first time through the Black Sea to participate in joint military exercises with Georgia. Major Vincent Mucker of the U.S. Army reportedly said this move shows that the Black Sea can be used as a transit corridor.

According to the Defense Department’s FY 2016 budget request for the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI), the Pentagon plans to spend $62.6 million to build partner capacity in countries such as Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. This request is a nearly five-fold increase over the $13.7 million request under ERI for FY 2015.

Within the $62.6 million request, $24.3 million would support military-to-military exercises, operations, seminars, conferences and workshops to boost civil-military response options. Another $24 million would go to strengthening regional partner capacity to conduct counterterrorism and stability operations with a focus on border security and surveillance activities. Some of this funding would also provide support to Central and Eastern European countries in defense planning.

In a recent statement at the House Armed Services Committee, U.S. General Breedlove complimented Georgia for its continued support of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. As the second largest troop contributor to the NATO Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, Georgia will also likely receive Pentagon funding through Coalition Support Funds. Although the details on the amount of this planned aid for Georgia are currently unavailable, it is likely to surpass $100 million based on the previous year’s support.

In February, the State Department had also requested to increase its military aid spending for FY 2016 to Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine through the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program by at least a 100 percent over its FY 2015 request. For example, the State Department requested $20 million for Georgia in FMF for FY 2016, which is $10 million more than the FY 2015 request. The $20 million would provide training to conduct territorial defense against regional pressure from Russia and continue Georgian defense reforms.

As Russia continues to flex its muscles in Europe and Eurasia, it’s likely that the Obama Administration will continue to put a priority on supporting Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine militarily. The resulting effect of this increased aid is less clear at the moment, but Russia will continue to form part of the U.S. military’s calculus in its military aid to these countries.