US President George W Bush has defended plans for the US military to train and equip troops in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.
The US involvement has drawn criticism from Moscow which has traditionally regarded Georgia as part of its sphere of influence.
Washington has already sent at least six helicopters and unconfirmed US media reports say up to 200 special forces may be deployed.
The US has been keen to stress that any military aid to Georgia would have to be formally requested and would be limited to training and equipment - no US troops would be directly involved in fighting.
US forces will have the right, however, to act in self-defence, said a Pentagon spokesman.