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Thread: Georgia's South Ossetia Conflict - Military Commentary

  1. #21
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Readiness and threat are two different kettle of fish.

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    Default Unchallenged air power was Russia's trump card

    For Entropy

    Unchallenged air power was Russia's trump card

    By Tom Lasseter | McClatchy Newspapers

    TIRDZNISI, Georgia The Russian fighter jet screamed low to the earth and peeled off so quickly that the bomb wasn't visible until it hit the ground. The explosion shook everything and sent a shower of debris flying over the head of a young Georgian soldier.

    The soldier, lying against an embankment on the side of the road, shouted in a panicked voice for everyone to stay still. His palms were flat on the dirt in front of him. "It's Russian MiGs," the soldier said, his eyes wide.

    For three days, Russian jets and bombers have unleashed a massive aerial campaign against Georgian forces that, more than anything, dramatically changed the war's direction.

    Until Russian jets showed up, Georgian tanks and infantry looked to be on their way to defeating rebel forces in Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway province of South Ossetia.

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    Council Member Van's Avatar
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    Tom,
    Please redirect "Unchallenged air power was Russia's trump card" responses to the Ever-ready Bunny of SWC - The Never Ending Airpower Versus Groundpower Debate ...



    Although, no one should be surprised if we see this cited in the future as an example of the "Ten Propositions Regarding Air Power", especially "Whoever controls the air. generally controls the surface" and "Air power is primarily offiensive".
    Last edited by Van; 08-12-2008 at 06:06 PM.

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van View Post
    Tom,
    Please redirect "Unchallenged air power was Russia's trump card" responses to the Ever-ready Bunny of SWC - The Never Ending Airpower Versus Groundpower Debate ...



    Although, no one should be surprised if we see this cited in the future as an example of the "Ten Propositions Regarding Air Power", especially "Whoever controls the air. generally controls the surface" and "Air power is primarily offiensive".
    posted a copy and linked it

    And a partial from Aerospace Daily (requires subscription) via ebird:

    Georgia Strikes Back With Air Defenses

    If the land war in Georgia so far seems to be going decidedly in favor of the Russian army and navy, the Georgians seem to be racking up a lopsided score with their air defenses....

    ...However, Georgian air defenses appear to be taking a steady toll on Russian aircraft. Russia has admitted to losing a total of four aircraft (the Georgians claim 10) in the conflict. So far they've admitted to the destruction of three Su-25 Frogfoot strike aircraft and a Tu-22M3 Backfire bomber that was flying a reconnaissance mission.
    Last edited by Tom Odom; 08-12-2008 at 06:38 PM.

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    Council Member Ratzel's Avatar
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    I can't understand why the Georgians would try to fight Russia using tanks? The Georgian Army should be a Army of 6 man cells, with the best shoulder fired weapons money can buy. I didn't hear about one Russian tank being hit by an anti-tank weapon? Why?

    I assume that Georgia needs some armour protection to fight Chechen Guerrillas or other various "rebels" in their country? But so far, I can't say I'm too impressed with the Georgians.

    If I was a Baltic State or Ukraine military planner, I would make note of this. It seems like these countries (and Georgia) have developed their militaries to take on NATO/American missions, while not thinking about their own territorial defense?

    It seems necessary to have deployable units for peacekeeping or COIN, and then have units of small independent cells for the nation's defense against the bigger Russia. For a small country like Georgia, it shouldn't really be that expensive to equip and train some units to specialize in hit and run tactics, and supply line disruption?
    "Politics are too important to leave to the politicians"

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratzel View Post
    I can't understand why the Georgians would try to fight Russia using tanks? The Georgian Army should be a Army of 6 man cells, with the best shoulder fired weapons money can buy. I didn't hear about one Russian tank being hit by an anti-tank weapon? Why?

    I assume that Georgia needs some armour protection to fight Chechen Guerrillas or other various "rebels" in their country? But so far, I can't say I'm too impressed with the Georgians.

    If I was a Baltic State or Ukraine military planner, I would make note of this. It seems like these countries (and Georgia) have developed their militaries to take on NATO/American missions, while not thinking about their own territorial defense?

    It seems necessary to have deployable units for peacekeeping or COIN, and then have units of small independent cells for the nation's defense against the bigger Russia. For a small country like Georgia, it shouldn't really be that expensive to equip and train some units to specialize in hit and run tactics, and supply line disruption?
    I not only concur but applaud your observation. It is exactly this point I tried to present to the Royal Thai Army. A couple of points are worth expanding.

    a.) Tanks are fire support. They can achieve little in themselves, but you still need some. Tanks engender human emotion in a way I can never understand and I believe their generally unchanging form nearing the limit of its usefulness. No the tank is not obsolete. It merely needs to evolve.

    b.) Beware the heroic little tank hunter teams. Context is everything, and the tide can very quickly turn against them. In order to be consistently successful they need large amounts of support and preparation. Even then they may suffer considerable attrition, unless they have the ability to very rapidly disengage.
    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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    Council Member Ratzel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    I not only concur but applaud your observation. It is exactly this point I tried to present to the Royal Thai Army. A couple of points are worth expanding.

    a.) Tanks are fire support. They can achieve little in themselves, but you still need some. Tanks engender human emotion in a way I can never understand and I believe their generally unchanging form nearing the limit of its usefulness. No the tank is not obsolete. It merely needs to evolve.

    b.) Beware the heroic little tank hunter teams. Context is everything, and the tide can very quickly turn against them. In order to be consistently successful they need large amounts of support and preparation. Even then they may suffer considerable attrition, unless they have the ability to very rapidly disengage.

    a.) Countries like the Baltic States could probably use some armour if their Russian populations try to break away, but for actual war against Russia, they'd be useless.

    b.) During OIF I my unit faced thousands of men acting in hunter killer teams, and it was very ugly for them (even in the cities). Terriean really makes a difference, as the desert is a bad place for the small AA team. However, a place like Georgia, or the Balkans is ideal for this. Another factor in OIF I was the Iraqi weapons. If the Iraqis had Javelins and Carl Gustavs instead of RPG 7's and 14's, we most likely would have had a lot of problems?
    "Politics are too important to leave to the politicians"

  8. #28
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
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    Default Russian army needs overhauling

    Some interesting (self) observations at RIA Novosti as reported in the Russian press.

    The Georgian army has not yet tried many of its state-of-the-art weapons in the South Ossetian conflict, but is ready to do so at a decisive moment, Israeli media reported.

    Even Georgia's Soviet-made T-72 tanks are better equipped than their Russian counterparts. Georgia has re-engineered its inventory of 165 T-72 tanks by fitting them out with the GPS navigation system, identification systems, thermal imagery systems for targeting fire, and up-to-date Falcon communication systems. The Georgian version of the tank, the T-72-SIM-1, is capable of night fighting and in adverse weather conditions, which is beyond the capability of Russian tanks.

    The course of the war has shown that the Russian army needs overhauling. Meanwhile yesterday Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin refused to back a proposal by key security ministries to increase defense spending.
    If you want to blend in, take the bus

  9. #29
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratzel View Post
    b.) During OIF I my unit faced thousands of men acting in hunter killer teams, and it was very ugly for them (even in the cities). Terriean really makes a difference, as the desert is a bad place for the small AA team. However, a place like Georgia, or the Balkans is ideal for this. Another factor in OIF I was the Iraqi weapons. If the Iraqis had Javelins and Carl Gustavs instead of RPG 7's and 14's, we most likely would have had a lot of problems?
    The weapons are certainly an issue. Some UK MBTs took 12 + hits from RPGs when doing "raids" into Basra. The poor quality of both enemy troops and equipment was explicitly noted in the post operational report. EG- Don't try this again!

    As I have said before, Javelin and Spike (MR/LR) change the world in ways we may not yet fully appreciate, but they are vastly expensive (especially Javelin). I see there as being a clear requirement for low cost, light weight wire guided ATGM, such as 9K115-2 or a much improved M47 Dragon.

    ...and yes, I know Dragon sucked more than a blind stripper with a club foot, which is why I said "much improved!"
    Last edited by William F. Owen; 08-13-2008 at 09:43 AM.
    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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    As Estonian I can say that due to our joining with NATO (now) 99 percent of effort is commited to joint operations with Allies. This means that platoon and company-sized units are trained to work as part of bigger Allied forces formation (company, batallion) against insurgents. This tactics changes 180 degrees from guerilla war. There was proposal that Ministry of defence chould produce side mines against armoured vechicles (that Finnish deep operations units use, kind of side mines used by Iraqi insurgents), latter was chocked. You can say that at least lessons are known, but you have to also drill this during conscription. This is not done. Picture of war in small country depens A LOT wether this is done with the help of allies or alone.

    This case study is part of topic "how decisions are done."

    If I remember correctly, US train and equip program was started to make Georgian army able to fight against Chechen isurgents that inflitreted Kodori gorge and established safe haven there. Russians were complaining this all the time and bombed Georgian territory.

    Even US officer proposed deep operations concept.

    http://www.bdcol.ee/fileadmin/docs/b...w/08bdr200.pdf

    This paper is about territorial defence.

    http://www.bdcol.ee/fileadmin/docs/b...w/07bdr200.pdf

    Here you can find tons of papers.

    http://www.bdcol.ee/?id=64

  11. #31
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kaur View Post

    Even US officer proposed deep operations concept.

    http://www.bdcol.ee/fileadmin/docs/b...w/08bdr200.pdf
    Dear G*d! Not something I would ever want to try. A 10-man "deep operations squad."

    Good romantic punchy stuff, but can't see how on earth you'd make it work in practice. If nothing else, the "2-man Carl Gustav" team is not going to work. You need about 4 men to make a Charlie G do its stuff

    I'm all for "Stay behind ISTAR" with some sniper capability, and secure comms. That is proven to work.
    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 Ratzel View Post
    I can't understand why the Georgians would try to fight Russia using tanks? The Georgian Army should be a Army of 6 man cells, with the best shoulder fired weapons money can buy. I didn't hear about one Russian tank being hit by an anti-tank weapon? Why?
    Indeed, it seems they missed some of the key lessons of Chechnya. Trying to take on the Russian Army in a conventional fight was an exceptionally bad idea. It looks to me like the Georgians wanted to use armored shock to quickly overpower the South Ossetians, but they appeared to have no contingency plan for the rapid response from the Russians. Light infantry could have hidden until the Russian main body had passed and then attacked the Russian LOC. This would have slowed the Russian advance and taken some of the Russian combat power away from the units facing the Georgians further south.

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    Council Member Wildcat's Avatar
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    http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe...war/index.html

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7558399.stm

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/14/wo...hp&oref=slogin

    Saakashvili is making accusations of violence by Russian tanks in Gori. The Russians are denying any presence in Gori and making counter-accusations of attacks by Georgian troops. Some journalists are saying they've seen no Russian tanks in Gori. Others (the BBC) are saying they have. Very murky details at the moment, but the cease-fire hasn't been formalized yet and it appears ready to break at any moment.

  14. #34
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildcat View Post
    Saakashvili is making accusations of violence by Russian tanks in Gori. The Russians are denying any presence in Gori and making counter-accusations of attacks by Georgian troops. Some journalists are saying they've seen no Russian tanks in Gori. Others (the BBC) are saying they have. Very murky details at the moment, but the cease-fire hasn't been formalized yet and it appears ready to break at any moment.
    About 3 hours ago, Sky News just had a phone interview with their man in Gori, standing next to a Russian Tank. Ain't the information age great!
    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 View Post
    About 3 hours ago, Sky News just had a phone interview with their man in Gori, standing next to a Russian Tank. Ain't the information age great!
    Yeah, I just checked Sky News and found this tidbit.

    Russia had denied its troops were making their way to Tbilisi.

    But Anatoly Nagovitsyn, the Russian military's deputy chief of staff, had also categorically denied that there were any tanks on the streets of Gori....

    Sky News correspondents Stuart Ramsay and Jason Farrell confirmed there were tanks on the streets in Gori, which has suffered extensively from Russian bombing raids....

    "(The tanks) just rolled past us with their guns at the ready, definitely looking like they were ready to engage," he said.
    Might they be Georgian tanks who moved in when the Russians supposedly vacated the premises? Or has all of Georgia's armor been destroyed by now?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ratzel View Post
    I can't understand why the Georgians would try to fight Russia using tanks? The Georgian Army should be a Army of 6 man cells, with the best shoulder fired weapons money can buy.ain some units to specialize in hit and run tactics, and supply line disruption?
    I'm glad that someone who knows what they're talking about raised this issue, because sometimes I look stupid when I ask obvious questions.


    I wondered if:

    A) we didn't want to sell the Georgians sophisticated AT weapons or

    B) we didn't want to teach these type of tactics because now that Hezbollah uses them that makes them "terrorist tactics."


    After reading here though, the previously mentioned, we only trained the Georgians to get rid of terrorists because that's all we cared about, makes the most sense.
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.

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    The Georgia Train and Equip Program (GTEP) was an American-sponsored 18-month, $64-million plan designed to increase the capabilities of the Georgian armed forces. On February 27, 2002 it began to be reported in the US media that the U.S. would send approximately two hundred United States Army Special Forces soldiers to Georgia to train Georgian troops.[citation needed] This program implemented President Bush's decision to respond to the Government of Georgia's request for assistance to enhance its counter-terrorism capabilities and addressed the situation in the Pankisi Gorge.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia..._Equip_Program

    Mission completed. Georgians got rid of Chechens and US got allies in COIN operation in Iraq.

    This is not only Hezbollah tactics. This is partly Chechen tactics, Iraqi insurgents tactics, Mujahideen tactics etc. ... but this is not politically correct tactics, because Goliath got hit to the groin. If I remember correctly van Creveld wrote in the beginning of nineties in "Transformation of war" that big states teach only their type of tactics. First, they can sale hardware and know-how. Second, this will not work against them.
    Last edited by kaur; 08-13-2008 at 03:37 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kaur View Post
    but this is not politically correct tactics,
    That's what I was getting at. Were we more worried about avoiding scandalous headlines back home - "US teaches Georgians terror tactics", than what the Georgians would need to do if they ever faced a Russian tank invasion?

    Though, as others have mentioned, these teams have very high casualty rates. Maybe the Georgians weren't interested in being martyrs. A decision that I can't really disagree with.

    As always, could be both, plus other factors too.
    Last edited by Rank amateur; 08-13-2008 at 03:53 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.

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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VMI_Marine View Post
    Indeed, it seems they missed some of the key lessons of Chechnya.
    I'm not so sure about that. I think that it depends on what your view of the lessons of Chechnya are. A good part of the reason for whatever success the insurgents have had against us in Iraq and Afghanistan is that we will always do our level best to avoid civilian casualties. The Russians seem to have no such compunctions. I suspect that if the Russians smell another Chechnya brewing, ie the trees start growing RPGs and ATGM things will get significantly more nasty, particularly if there are a lot of Chechnya vets in the Russian forces. I remember reading reports of how the tallest building in Grozny was no taller than two stories owing to the Russian air and artillery. The Chechan insurgents managed to do some damage to the Russians and the Russians, in turn, managed to do some significant damage to the insurgents, the civilian populace and the national infrastructure. The Georgians are probably still holding out hope for a solution that stops short of that kind of war.

    SFC W

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    Photos by 1 photographer, who moved with Russian troops.

    http://lsd-25.ru/2008/08/14/voyna-v-...iya-babchenko/

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