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Thread: Georgia's South Ossetia Conflict - Military Commentary

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Default Georgia's South Ossetia Conflict - Military Commentary

    I think much depends upon the proficiency of the Russian armed forces as of this moment. If they are as inept as they were when they first went into Chechnya, things could get very complicated for Vlad.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    situation on friday (found in another forum)


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    I found following post from Russian military forum. One sentence is that Ossetians shot Gerogian prisoners.

    На посту у этнических сёл наши солдаты собирают у бегущих грузин оружие и отправляют домой. Днём был мерзкий конфуз, осетины перестреляли 30 грузинских пленных, дезавуировав для мира зверства грузин против миротворцев. Грузины наглеют и ставят грады за административной границей рядом с обгоревшими остовами подбитых вчера. Танки и АА стреляют только через границу."
    http://www.milkavkaz.net/forum/viewt...asc&start=1470
    http://vif2ne.ru/nvk/forum/0/co/1663697.htm

    I have no clue how reliable this info is. Is this the beginning of blood feud? Geographically the ethnic villages are mixed.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...tailed_map.JPG

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    The Georgian government, apparently.

    The Georgians have displayed a good deal of operational incompetence as it seems. There's only one road (actually partially a tunnel!) between Russia and SO - they should have taken that in an air assault and blocked it (if not blown up altogether).
    The mountain passes are impassable in winter - the Georgian attack in summer.

    The initial attack doesn't seem to have won much terrain - apparently only a few kilometres at most before the Russian advance guard of few battalions arrived .

    Well, #### happens if you begin a war with a 1:100 inferior army that's incompetent.

    The Russians didn't produce flawless photos of their columns either. Poor camouflage, poor march organization, perfect targets for air/arty, irregular uniforms, riding on top of APCs...


    I've observed discussions about this where people refrained about an oh-so-good U.S.-trained Georgian brigade.
    Well, maybe we should create a thread to identify the armies that were trained by the U.S. military and didn't afterward suck asap?
    I've got difficulties to remember any.

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    The Georgian government, apparently.

    The Georgians have displayed a good deal of operational incompetence as it seems. There's only one road (actually partially a tunnel!) between Russia and SO - they should have taken that in an air assault and blocked it (if not blown up altogether).
    The mountain passes are impassable in winter - the Georgian attack in summer.

    The initial attack doesn't seem to have won much terrain - apparently only a few kilometres at most before the Russian advance guard of few battalions arrived .

    Well, #### happens if you begin a war with a 1:100 inferior army that's incompetent.

    The Russians didn't produce flawless photos of their columns either. Poor camouflage, poor march organization, perfect targets for air/arty, irregular uniforms, riding on top of APCs...


    I've observed discussions about this where people refrained about an oh-so-good U.S.-trained Georgian brigade.
    Well, maybe we should create a thread to identify the armies that were trained by the U.S. military and didn't afterward suck asap?
    I've got difficulties to remember any.
    For so eloquently pointing out the various reasons that this particular conflict and its origins seem only to fit the requirements of one of the participants.

    To assume that the Georgians or their trainers didn't realize what you say is true might be asking a little much


    It does however help to make it quite evident why now would have been a good time by Russian terms. And why preemption may have seemed acceptable.

    Just another way of looking at it
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

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    Well, with the Russians knocking at the door of Gori in the centre and Zhigdidi in the west (NYT), things are not exactly going swimmingly for the Georgians, though they did manage to make a casualty of what appears to have been 58th Army's commander. But with perhaps three MRD, elements of three Airborne formations, plus other Russian formations and units moving into or already in the AO, good as Georgia's regular troops may be, they've definitely got their work cut out for them. The Russians do not appear to be willing to settle for anything less than precipitating the fall of the present Georgian government. Maybe they won't even settle for that now.

    Some US advisers and contractors may really get to earn their pay soon (if not already); I'm sure they'll really looking foreward to that.
    Last edited by Norfolk; 08-10-2008 at 09:40 PM. Reason: Added Link

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    The Georgians have displayed a good deal of operational incompetence as it seems. There's only one road (actually partially a tunnel!) between Russia and SO - they should have taken that in an air assault and blocked it (if not blown up altogether).
    The mountain passes are impassable in winter - the Georgian attack in summer.
    I'm not sure that is an accurate judgement. The Georgians, like everyone else are hostages to the pre-conflict start positions, and political constraints. We won't know the truth for a couple of months.

    ... however, I bet all the "experts" will rush in with a whole series of "lessons from Georgia," which will mostly prove inaccurate, and be completely free from Georgian Staff and Command input.

    Unlike Shimon Naveh, I don't and never have rated the Russian Army. Talk Jedi Knight, but act Cave man! - they can never do what they set themselves up for.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Do you really think either case

    Quote Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
    ...When you're outnumbered, patiently waiting in an ambush is often the best tactical response. If you understand the situation, sometimes you don't need to wait very long, but since no one charged it, I have to assume that it wasn't a near ambush.
    was or is really that simple?

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    Quote Originally Posted by walrus View Post
    I am however surprised at the speed of Russia's action, which suggest to me that it had to have been premeditated. Those troops must have been on twelve hours notice to move or less, and my recollection is that you don't keep people standing around like that for very long. I'm also not sure that the reactive armor is left in place during training, those tanks look "" dressed", to me, although I was Inf.
    You may note that Georgia borders a Russian province called "Chechnya", and you may recall some unpleasantness there. Well, there is also a province immediately to the west of Chechnya between Chechnya and North Ossetia called Ingushetia which has also been restive due to Chechnyan fighters who fled to its mountains after the Russians defeated them in Chechnya. Because of all this, Russia had approximately 250,000 servicemen in the area six months ago as well as approximately 200 aircraft. There was/is a major Russian base in Vladikavkaz to deal with the Chechnyan situation to keep Chechnyan fighters from fleeing westward, indeed this is an ancient Russian fortress city built in 1784 to deal with the Chechnyans (who were rebelling then too, go figure). Which city, if you are looking at your maps, is 80km from the Roki tunnel, and then a further 40km to Tskinvali.

    In short, it is not unusual for Russia to have forces in the area that are on alert, and furthermore, not unusual for Russia to have some of their best forces in the area -- as, undoubtedly, those T-90 tanks with reactive armor indicate. It is a two hour drive from Vladikavkaz to Tskinvali at 60km/h, so Russian troops arriving in Tskinvali twelve hours after fighting begins indicates that it took about ten hours for the Russians to get sorted out and underway -- not a great showing for a rapid reaction unit intended to respond rapidly to problems in Chechnya, but certainly not indicative of anything other than the fact that this region has been problematic for Russia for quite some time and South Ossetia happens to be close to Russia's main base in the region. In other words, the rapidity of Russian response does not indicate the Russians were necessarily expecting this particular trouble. They have plenty of other troubles to expect in the region too. Indeed, one wonders what the Chechnyans are thinking, now that the main force to their west keeping them suppressed has taken a detour into Georgia...

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    Just today morning I found from Russian MoD site that they are denying involvement of Chechen "Vostok" and "Zapad" units. This info has vanished now. Reuters says that "Vostok" is in.

    http://search.us.reuters.com/query/?...%6b&s=USPHOTOS

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by badtux View Post
    In short, it is not unusual for Russia to have forces in the area that are on alert, and furthermore, not unusual for Russia to have some of their best forces in the area -- as, undoubtedly, those T-90 tanks with reactive armor indicate.
    I agree with your overall opinion, but I disagree about the description of the quality of the 19th MRD. It's one of the better units, but not equipped with significant quantities of 1990's or newer material.

    The 19th MRD was equipped with equipment that was mostly 1970's/1980's equipment.
    I am observing a board that focuses on hardware and they have running commentaries on the equipment on the published photos. They identified BTR-70 and T-62 (in a later wave), BMP-1 (probably part of the original peacekeeping force), mostly T-72 / BMP-2 / BTR-80.
    They did also spot a Tunguska somewhere.

    The general consensus was that the Georgian patchwork arsenal of 2nd hand equipment from Eastern Europe (and some American infantry equipment like BDUs) was in average more modern than the 19th MRD equipment.

    The 19th MRD is a rapid-raction division with a lower than usual share of conscripts and higer than usual expenditures for training.
    It still needed a rapid reaction force in itself (which formed the advance guard of few battalions) to have at least a part of it at a level of readiness approaching that of all Soviet ground forces in Central Europe during the 1980's.

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    "How well have Russian forces performed in Georgia?"

    http://windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/...e-russian.html

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaur View Post
    "How well have Russian forces performed in Georgia?"

    http://windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/...e-russian.html
    Considering that military historians and operational analysts are still debating WW2 actions where we have a wealth of info, and there is still considerable debate over recent operations such as "Gothic Serpent" and "Anaconda", I can't see how anyone can yet produce a well informed opinion on the Russian Army, or the Georgians.

    What all this tells me, is that there is now even less reason to suppose that the future wars will be small wars.

    ...and if you want to rapidly deploy a Brigade from Germany to Georgia, via Turkey, driving all the way, may be something to consider.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen
    ....I can't see how anyone can yet produce a well informed opinion on the Russian Army, or the Georgians.

    What all this tells me, is that there is now even less reason to suppose that the future wars will be small wars....
    A more entertaining look at the conflict, from The War Nerd:
    .....Whatís happening to Georgia here is like the teeny-tiny version of Germany in the twentieth century: overplay your hand and you lose everything. So if youíre a Georgian nationalist, this war is a tragedy; if youíre a Russian or Ossetian nationalist, itís a triumph, a victory for justice, whatever. To the rest of us, itís just kind of fun to watch. And damn, this one has been a LOT of fun! The videos that came out of it! You know, DVD is the best thing to happen to war in a long time. All the fun, none of the screaming agonyóitís war as Diet Coke.

    See, this is the war that I used to see in the paintings commissioned by Defense contractors in Aviation Week and AFJ: a war between two conventional armies, both using air forces and armored columns, in pine-forested terrain. That was what those pictures showed every time, with a highlighted closeup of the weapon they were selling homing in on a Warsaw Pact convoy coming through a German pine forest. Of course, a real NATO/Warsaw Pact war would never, ever have happened that way. It would have gone nuclear in an hour or less, which both sides knew, which is why it never happened. So all that beautiful weaponry was kind of a farce, if it was only going to be used in the Fulda Gap. But damn, God is good, because here it all is, in the same kind of terrain, all your favorite old images: Russian-made tanks burning, a Soviet-model fighter-bomber falling from the sky in pieces, troops in Russian camo fighting other troops, also in Russian camo, in a skirmish by some dilapidated country shack. No racial overtones to get bummed out byóeverybody on both sides is white! And white from places you donít know or care about!......

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    The initial combat did not seem to include much territorial gains.

    The Georgian troops in the large Georgian valley enclave north of teh city were apparently overrun by the Russian advance guard.

    I have heard (read) that there was little resistance after the first couple hours of combat between the Georgians and the Russian advance guard at the southern front line.

    It sounded a lot as if the Georgians were withdrawing even without proper delaying actions - Russian recce units were able to "take & occupy" objectives.
    Gori, for example, was apparently evacuated when the Russians arrived.
    There was apparently no numerical or equipment superiority to speak of at the front lines.

    Whatever success the Russians had was probably 95% psychological; the Georgian likely assumed their overall inferiority and didn't want to make last stands.

    Neither Russians nor Georgians seemed to have been much interested in camouflage & concealment (judged by the published photos).

    Caucasus people have a reputation of being more aggressive & physically robust than Russians, bullying superior numer sof Russian recruits in the army a conscripts. Maybe that description only fits the smaller nations north of the caucasus mountain tops.

    The Georgian air defense fought apparently fairly well - the Russians did not seem to wage a SEAD campaign or use proper SEAD escorts.

    The Russian Air Power (Su-25 and Mi-24 were mostly on video/photos) attacked operational (supply depots) and tactical targets (at least vehicles on road march) targets. I'm not sure how significant it was, but it seemed to have had an impact.
    Russian air supremacy allowed their troops to drive along the single road without beign attacked.



    That's the snippets that I heard/read about.
    It'll be easier to learn about the Russian story than about the Georgian one because of the numerical superiority of exile Russians to exile Georgians.

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    Quote Originally Posted by badtux View Post
    In short, it is not unusual for Russia to have forces in the area that are on alert, and furthermore, not unusual for Russia to have some of their best forces in the area -- as, undoubtedly, those T-90 tanks with reactive armor indicate. It is a two hour drive from Vladikavkaz to Tskinvali at 60km/h, so Russian troops arriving in Tskinvali twelve hours after fighting begins indicates that it took about ten hours for the Russians to get sorted out and underway -- not a great showing for a rapid reaction unit intended to respond rapidly to problems in Chechnya, but certainly not indicative of anything other than the fact that this region has been problematic for Russia for quite some time and South Ossetia happens to be close to Russia's main base in the region. In other words, the rapidity of Russian response does not indicate the Russians were necessarily expecting this particular trouble. They have plenty of other troubles to expect in the region too. Indeed, one wonders what the Chechnyans are thinking, now that the main force to their west keeping them suppressed has taken a detour into Georgia...
    An excellent first post, Badtux !
    As time permits you, please do introduce yourself here.

    I would also add that Putin's 2004 Presidential order to create Mountain Troop brigades resulted initially in haphazard selections and often competing forces (glamor and better pay, if you will). Even as late as October 2007, weaponry and equipment for the new brigades were to come from defense arsenals, and more would need to be procured. That left one tiny little detail -- the construction of a base for the 33rd brigade in Botlikh (near the Chechen border) and the 34th brigade's base near Sochi and the Abkhaz border. Both brigades should have been formed and (ahem) "ready" by 01 December. Well, so much for that

    As we are all well aware of, Russia has been fighting rebels in the North Caucasus since 94, and Russian peacekeepers are currently deployed in the mountainous South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions of Georgia. The so-called mountain brigades "more or less" ended up being heavy armored motor-rifle groups.

    I reckon that's why the peacekeepers ended up with artillery for the "rapid and initial" offensive

    Welcome aboard and regards, Stan
    If you want to blend in, take the bus

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Caucasus people have a reputation of being more aggressive & physically robust than Russians, bullying superior numer sof Russian recruits in the army a conscripts. Maybe that description only fits the smaller nations north of the caucasus mountain tops.
    We have large amounts of Gruzynim living here in Israel. Popular culture puts them on the "don't F**K with" list, along with the Kurds.

    Basically every Gruzinit has brothers intent on protecting their long lost virginity.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    The 19th MRD was equipped with equipment that was mostly 1970's/1980's equipment.
    I am observing a board that focuses on hardware and they have running commentaries on the equipment on the published photos. They identified BTR-70 and T-62 (in a later wave), BMP-1 (probably part of the original peacekeeping force), mostly T-72 / BMP-2 / BTR-80.
    Thank you, I did not take a look at the published photos but relied on someone who saw the reactive armor on a T-72 and thought it was a T-90. Of course the two have completely different turrets but the same hull so if you aren't looking closely it's a reasonable mistake to make. I probably should have checked more but it wasn't really the point of my piece so (shrug).

    The 19th MRD is a rapid-raction division with a lower than usual share of conscripts and higer than usual expenditures for training.
    It still needed a rapid reaction force in itself (which formed the advance guard of few battalions) to have at least a part of it at a level of readiness approaching that of all Soviet ground forces in Central Europe during the 1980's.
    I am not sure that the readiness of Soviet ground forces in Central Europe during the 1980's was all that high, other than their equipment being thirty years newer then. The Soviet infrastructure was crumbling, the Soviet economy was in the toilet, discontent and dissent were rife, they had the same problem of poorly-trained draftee soldiers as the heart of their army that afflicts the current Russian army. But that is a topic for another area.

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    The Cold War readiness of WP forces in Central Europe was beyond belief.
    Evacuation of bases in a matter of minutes upon alarm, for example.

    They had two different sets of tanks; some for training, many always ready for immediate action (maintenance done, ammunition, fuel, oil, zeroed gun).


    Exile Russians who were in the Soviet Army are VERY embittered about the post-Cold War developments in the Red/Russian army. The standards dropped to the bottom and 19th MRD was not much above that bottom apparently.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by badtux View Post
    ...I am not sure that the readiness of Soviet ground forces in Central Europe during the 1980's was all that high, other than their equipment being thirty years newer then. The Soviet infrastructure was crumbling, the Soviet economy was in the toilet, discontent and dissent were rife, they had the same problem of poorly-trained draftee soldiers as the heart of their army that afflicts the current Russian army. But that is a topic for another area.
    Significantly lower readiness than many wanted to presume for various reasons, I'd say...

    Vastly over rated as a threat...

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