View Full Version : Task Force GTEP witnesses revolution

12-04-03, 07:46 AM
Task Force GTEP witnesses revolution
Submitted by: Marine Forces Europe
Story Identification Number: 200312174413
Story by 1stLt. Justin Colvin

KRTSANISI, Georgia(December 1, 2003) -- U.S. Marines and Soldiers from Task Force Georgia Train and Equip Program witnessed a peaceful popular uprising in this Caucasus nation Nov. 22 dubbed the "Rose Revolution," which resulted in the resignation of Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze.
The results of a Nov. 2 Parliamentary election here were marred by massive voter fraud according to the U.S. Department of State and outside monitors, resulting in huge street protests in the capital city of Tbilisi by supporters of the main opposition party. The protests, which numbered as many as 50,000 people at times, culminated with the storming of Parliament during a speech by Shevardnadze Sunday, as opposition leader Mikhail Saakashvili and his supporters took the podium bearing roses rather than firing weapons.
The Marines and Soldiers of Task Force GTEP meanwhile remained on high alert at Advanced Operating Base Krtsanisi, while the staff discussed contingency plans such as non-combatant evacuation operations for U.S. civilians here and reinforcement of the Marines at the U.S. Embassy three blocks from Parliament.
"The situation was pretty touch and go for a while and we had contingency plans ready for a number of possible scenarios including the reinforcement of the Embassy," said Maj. Charles Western, commanding officer Task Force GTEP. "The GTEP battalions told us that they did not want to use their troops against their own people and had no intention of doing so; their feedback and that of other Georgian military commanders around the country may have had an influence on the Defense Minister's decision not to use force. Our mission here is to preserve stability, and we achieved that both directly and indirectly by the bonds we've made with the soldiers here."
Shevardnadze took power in Georgia in the early 1990's following a two-week civil war that involved combat in the streets of Tbilisi. Georgia has seen two bloody conflicts during his rule with various breakaway republics in the region and the threat of another civil war occurring this time was looming on peoples' minds here.
"It is not over," said Maj. Georg Zhorzkashvili, public affairs officer, Georgian Ministry of Defense. "We're very happy that there hasn't been any violence so far but we've been sleeping in our offices for ten days now and people are still very worried here."
The interim government will be lead by acting president Nino Burdzhanadze, who formerly held the position of Speaker of the Parliament prior to the contested elections. The Georgian Supreme Court has since annulled the results of the Nov. 2 election, and new presidential elections are set for Jan. 4. Saakashvili, who stormed the Parliament with roses, is largely favored to win that election and interim leader Burdzhanadze has appealed to the international community for assistance in funding a new parliamentary election for which a date has not been determined.
"We were in a totally foreign part of the world while history was being made," said Sgt. David Tanana, data technician, Task Force GTEP. "This is what being in the Marine Corps is all about."