By (12/16/2002 issue of the CACI Analyst)

The first 558 Georgian commandos trained by U.S. instructors within the parameters of the U.S.-funded Train and Equip program graduated on 15 December in the presence of President Eduard Shevardnadze, U.S. Ambassador Richard Miles, and Georgian Defense Minister Lieutenant-General David Tevzadze, AP and Russian news agencies reported. Shevardnadze again expressed his gratitude for the U.S. help in raising the efficiency of Georgia's armed forces. The instructors who conducted the first training course are to return to the United States, but U.S. Marines will take over the training program in February 2003. Georgian National Security Council Secretary Tedo Djaparidze said at the graduation ceremony on 15 December that the U.S.-trained Georgian commandos will be responsible for the security of the planned Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil export pipeline. (Caucasus Press)