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Thread: Georgia's South Ossetia Conflict - Military Commentary

  1. #81
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Google Earth already helps a lot to understand the terrain (as do good maps, of course).

    I cannot post the snapshots from Google Earth due to copyright limitations, but everyone can use that free program and see quite acceptable quality imagery of South Ossetia.
    There were four major different terrains;
    - valley without much concealment (north of the combat zones only)
    - mountains without much concealment (east/west, but not very close to the combat zones
    - the city and several villages
    - agricultural fields
    The Russian march to the combat zone offered very different conditions for potential combat than the areas where the decisive combat took place at apparently rather short ranges - and then there's again a lot of long line-of-sight agricultural terrain south of the combat zone (and where the Georgian artillery and other support were apparently exposed to Rusian air attacks).

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Yep...

    Quote Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
    ...The Beirut barracks bombing destroyed very little military equipment, yet lead to a complete withdrawal: like you say, every case is different.
    and you left this off your quote of me:

    "With the Russians (and there are others) who don't care about casualties, their own or anyone else's, the casualty factor is not a significant issue -- but combat capability has to be one..."

    Had you not forgotten that portion of my comment, it might have occurred to you that we and the Russians have quite different idea on casualties. That's a cultural thing. Loss of combat capability is a very practical thing that transcends culture.

    The withdrawal from Beirut was an indicator of loss of will. It was one of several US failures that directly contributed to our being in Iraq today. Still, it was not a combat confrontation between opposing armed forces and is not really germane to your point -- or mine.

  3. #83
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    Default Lebanon vs. South Ossetia

    Could hunter-killer teams at the bottlenecks north of T-town stopped the Russian advance? Answer: No. That territory was controlled by the Ossetian militia. Same deal with the mountain and valley terrain all the way to the military tunnel. You could not simply drive a pickup truck full of Javelins up the road and stash them all over the place as reloads for your Javelin teams. You could not blast out hidden bunkers into the slopes for your teams to use for concealment as the Russians approached. The most you could have done would have been to insert a few teams onto backslopes via helicopter and have them mountaineer to the foreslopes. That is where the size and weight of the Javelin system comes into play. Basically, you could not have sufficient reloads available to take out more than a couple of tanks with any given three-man team because you simply couldn't hump enough reloads to do more than that. The Russians would have simply shoved the burning tanks off the side of the road after taking out the hunter-killer team, and moved on.

    South of Tskhinvali, the terrain gives over to agricultural fields. There, the open view lines make the tank the queen of the battlefield. Infantry are either bypassed or blown up with artillery or direct fire at long distance. The mobility to get your hunter-killer teams into place in front of whatever line of advance the tanks intend to use is impaired by artillery and air support, meaning that the majority of your hunter-killer teams are pinned down where their missiles will do no harm. Once again you will perhaps manage to take out a few tanks with the few hunter-killer teams who happen to be in place in whatever line of advance was chosen for the tanks, but once again you are not going to stop the Russian advance with hunter-killer teams in this scenario.

    Immediately to the north of Tskhinvali was hilly wooded terrain. This is the ideal place for hunter-killer teams. If Georgia had possessed good ATGM's, this is where they would have done the most good. Georgia actually did control most of this terrain during the early parts of the fighting, and were using it to fire artillery down into Tskhinvali, resulting in most of the Ossetian militia evacuating the city other than a small rearguard that they left behind as a delaying action until Russian assistance came. A hundred or so Javelins here would have made life tough for the Russians, because they would have had to send in the infantry with artillery support to clear these woods after the first few tanks blew up. The eventual outcome would have been the same though because the Georgians simply did not have the manpower to mount a defense in depth here and had not had time to dig in deep enough to make it hard for infantry to root them out since this was terrain that had been controlled by the Ossetian militia prior to their offensive.

    In short, this pretty much shows you why the Georgians want South Ossetia so bad. You basically cannot defend Georgia from attacks coming from Russia unless you have South Ossetia and do a Lebanon on it -- build bunkers and implacements all along the route from North Ossetia and fill them to the brim with ATGM's. Everything south of Tskhinvali to Gori is tank country and you aren't stopping the Russians there.

    Compare/contrast to Lebanon. There, Hezbollah controlled the terrain prior to the war. Lebanon's border with Israel is very short, and the population of young military-age men is high because the Shia breed like rabbits. Hezbollah dug into the hills like gophers and overcame the mobility advantage of Israeli tanks via the simple expedient of sheer manpower -- wherever an Israeli tank went, there was a Hezbollah hunter-killer team with bunkers filled to the top with ATGM's behind them. Hezbollah could not actually stop the Israelis from going anywhere they wanted to go, but they could make it either very slow for the Israelis since the Israeli infantry would have to dismount and go de-mine the roads and fields and clean out the hunter-killer teams, or if the Israelis went fast Hezbollah could make it very costly for the Israelis. Israel was very casualty-aware and eventually, despite tactical victory in every encounter with Hezbollah, decided that their strategic objective (the elimination of Hezbollah) was not achievable within costs that Israel could afford, and left. In short, the constricted geographic area, the ability to prepare the terrain beforehand, and the high available manpower eliminating the mobility advantage of the tanks by simply assuring that wherever the tanks went, there Hezbollah would be. All these factors combined to make it too expensive both in casualties and money (because Israel had to call up her reserves, which shuts down the entire Israeli economy for the duration) for Israel to achieve their strategic goals.

    However, it is much easier for Russia to achieve their strategic goals here. Possession of Tskhinvali was easily achievable within costs that were acceptable to Russia, thereby putting Georgia and the world on notice that at any time Russia could send their forces further into the country and destroy anything they wished to destroy -- such as, say, those pipelines. I think the Russians are quite satisfied right now, thank you very much. I think good ATGM's and MANPAD's in the hands of the Georgian military could have made the Russian victory more difficult, but given the limited Russian objectives in this offensive, and the fact that the defensible terrain was controlled by the Ossetian militia prior to the war, I seriously doubt they could have changed the outcome.

  4. #84
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    1. Ratzel, you mean this strategy?

    http://www.aeinstein.org/

    This worked once

    http://www.singingrevolution.com/

    2. Fuchs, what can do German artillery EMP shells against this kind of columns? Are they already in depots or still on designers tables?

    Strix has small foot print, but if you add to my description of Estonian terrain, which has nice narrow channels of movement "little" handwork with saws and demolition, then this should not matter.

    3. About NATO/US military plans by RAND.

    Chapter Five:
    European Theater: A Russia-Baltics Game
    http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG112/
    Last edited by kaur; 08-17-2008 at 08:05 AM.

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    [
    B]The Russian-Georgian War: Implications for the Middle East [/B]

    Ariel Cohen

    Lessons from the War

    Lessons for the Middle East and Israel from the Russian-Georgian War abound, and apply both to military operations, cyber-warfare, and strategic information operations. The most important of these are:

    Watch Out for the Bear - and Other Beasts! Russian continental power is on the rise. Israel should understand it and not provoke Moscow unnecessarily, while defending its own national security interests staunchly. Small states need to treat nuclear armed great powers with respect. Provoking a militarily strong adversary, such as Iran, is worthwhile only if you are confident of victory, and even then there may be bitter surprises. Just ask Saakashvili.
    Strategic Self-Reliance. U.S. expressions of support of the kind provided to Georgia - short of an explicit mutual defense pact - may or may not result in military assistance if/when Israel is under attack, especially when the attacker has an effective deterrent, such as nuclear arms deliverable against U.S. targets. In the future, such an attacker could be Iran or an Arab country armed with atomic weapons. Israel can and should rely on its own deterrent - a massive survivable second-strike capability.
    Intelligence Failure. U.S. intelligence-gathering and analysis on the Russian threat to Georgia failed. So did U.S. military assistance to Georgia, worth around $2 billion over the last 15 years. This is something to remember when looking at recent American intelligence assessments of the Iranian nuclear threat or the unsuccessful training of Palestinian Authority security forces against Hamas. Both are deeply flawed. There is no substitute for high-quality human intelligence.
    Air Power Is Not Sufficient. Russia used air, armor, the Black Sea Fleet, special forces, and allied militias. Clausewitzian lessons still apply: the use of overwhelming force in the war's center of gravity by implementing a combined air-land-sea operation may be twentieth century, but it does work.6 Israel should have been taught this lesson after the last war with Hizbullah.
    Surprise and Speed of Operations Still Matter - as they have for the four thousand years of the recorded history of warfare. To be successful, wars have to have limited and achievable goals. Russia achieved most of its goals between Friday and Monday, while the world, including President George W. Bush, was busy watching the Olympics and parliaments were on vacation.
    Do Not Cringe - within reason - from taking military casualties and inflicting overwhelming military and civilian casualties at a level unacceptable to the enemy. Georgia lost some 100-200 soldiers and effectively capitulated. A tougher enemy, like the Japanese or the Germans, or even Hizbullah, could well suffer a proportionally higher rate of casualties and keep on fighting.
    Information and Psychological Warfare Is Paramount. So is cyber-security. It looks like the Russians conducted repeated denial of service attacks against Georgia (and in 2007 against Estonia), shutting down key websites. Russia was ready with accusations and footage of alleged Georgian atrocities in South Ossetia, shifting the information operation playing field from "aggressor-victim" to "saving Ossetian civilians from barbaric Georgians." These operations also matter domestically, to shore up support and boost morale at home.
    http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/S...he_Middle_East
    Last edited by kaur; 08-17-2008 at 08:59 AM.

  6. #86
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    Here is one fresh table about military activites (in Russian).

    http://www.kommersant.ru/ISSUES.PHOT...ast_flag_1.gif

    First symbol shows the area controlled by Russian forces.

    http://www.kommersant.ru/ISSUES.PHOT...145m-05-01.jpg
    Last edited by kaur; 08-18-2008 at 05:49 AM.

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    Gen. Vyacheslav Borisov eased up on security and allowed dozens of journalists to enter Gori. They were allowed no farther than the checkpoint before. The general himself rides around the city in a black Land Rover with Georgian license plates and gives orders. When asked when the army would leave the local area, he answered loudly, “We came here first and we will leave last. When we receive the order.”
    http://www.kommersant.com/p1012852/R...etia_conflict/

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    Ossetians provoked Georgians intentionally, and any response, tough or mild, would have been used anyway as a pretext for attack. Even if Georgians had taken it lying down, then Abkhazians would anyway have started their prepared operation of cleaning-up the upper Kodori. When the war is planned, there is always the pretext.
    According to testimony by witnesses, the missile brigade of the 58th Army was put on the Georgian territory through Rokskiy Tunnel. This brigade is equipped with the MLRS “Uragan” and ballistic missiles “Tochka-U”. The “Grad” systems with caliber of 122 mm, unlike the more powerful “Uragan”, are little effective when striking cities or dug in troops. The “Tochka-U” (with the range of 110 km) is capable of reaching Tbilisi and vicinities from the district of Tskhinvali. Its high-explosive and fragmentation warhead covers 3 hectares, while the cassette one covers 7 hectares.

    MLRS “Uragan” and “Tochka-U” were used in mass for shooting in Chechnya in 1999 and 2000, which caused mass death of innocent civilians and the destruction. Last week some targets in the Western Georgia were shot at from Abkhazia with the use of rockets “Tochka-U”. The launches were registered by the American global system of monitoring the missile launch. Abkhazian authorities stated it’s them to have done that shooting. Now Russia may allege it’s Ossetians shooting at Tbilisi as a revenge for Tskhinvali. Similar attacks, undoubtedly, would cause a terrible panic in Tbilisi, which might help overthrowing the Saakashvili’s regime.
    http://en.novayagazeta.ru/data/2008/59/01.html

    In the meanwhile, the Human Rights Watch working in the zone of conflict has made a statement about unreliability of information about the number of killed. “Judging from experience of other armed conflicts, the number of wounded is three times as big as that of killed” said the organization’s expert Tatiana Lokshina, who is in the South Ossetia now, to a Novaya Gazeta correspondent. “If the Russian media speak of 2 thousand killed, then there must be at least 6 thousand wounded people, and probably tens of thousands. However, when visiting the field hospitals in the Northern and South Ossetia, the doctors reported to us about tens – not even hundreds – of the wounded. In this conflict we are dealing with inhuman quantity of misinformation. No one can really understand what has actually happened here”.
    http://en.novayagazeta.ru/data/2008/59/00.html

  9. #89
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Kaur, many thanks for all those links.

    You do good work...

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    Asia Times, 20 Aug 08 (same piece published restricted-access in JDW two days ago):

    Georgian Planning Flaws Led to Failure
    .....In light of the combination of fundamental tactical shortcomings and serious strategic blunders in the Georgian campaign to retake South Ossetia, it seems clear that the flaws in Georgian military planning were based on two key factors: an over-confident assumption of its own combat readiness and capabilities, as well as by a serious underestimation of the scale and scope of the Russian response.

    The first of these factors, an over-estimation of Georgian capabilities, is rooted in the US-run $64 million Georgia Train and Equip Program (GTEP) and the subsequent Sustainment and Stability Operations Program (SSOP). Yet despite the seemingly impressive US effort, even after several years of training and equipping, the Georgian military essentially remains divided between four light infantry brigades, consisting of US-trained group of comparatively well-paid, professional servicemen, and a much larger, poorly-trained conscript force plagued by low morale and inadequate pay.

    Moreover, neither US program was ever aimed at enhancing the combat readiness or offensive capabilities of the Georgian armed forces. Designed as a flexible, time-phased training initiative, GTEP was never aimed at providing the Georgian military with offensive capabilities, but merely provided training and equipment for 2,600 Georgian army and Interior Ministry forces using company infantry tactics with the intended goal of acquiring limited counter-terrorism capabilities. Similarly, the goal of the US-run Sustainment and Stability Operations Program was merely to prepare select Georgian units for deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    While the limited value of the US military assistance did not seem to lower Georgian confidence, the second factor of under-estimating the Russian response was rooted in Georgia's mistaken threat perception. Specifically, Georgia's strategic assessment, reflected in its three guiding plans, the National Security Concept, National Threat Assessment and National Military Strategy, each disregarded any direct threat from Russia, stating that there was "little possibility of open military aggression against Georgia", and defining "the probability of direct aggression" against Georgia as "relatively low".

    And perhaps most importantly, the actual state of readiness of the Georgian armed forces suggests that although the Georgian offensive may have been more than adequate against local forces in South Ossetia, they faced insurmountable challenges when confronted by a much more combat-capable and over-powering Russian force.

    Thus, Georgian deficiencies from not being able to wage or defend against large-scale combat operations involving a major armed force, lacking any combined-arms experience or training, and from having insufficient logistical support and inadequate air defenses, combined to doom Georgia's operational goals in South Ossetia from the very start.

  11. #91
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question Saw on the news last night

    The Russians taking the US humvees that where at the port and reportedly Georgian security forces hostages.

    You don't suppose those will end up being the

    US backed Georgian and Chechnian Rebel fighters who were reportedly on their way to stir up things in Gori

    Also in the roundup
    Link
    Last edited by Ron Humphrey; 08-20-2008 at 01:39 PM. Reason: add link from todays roundup
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  12. #92
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    AK-47's?

    Not the AK-74's and AK-74u's seen in numerous photos of Georgian troops?

    I've already seen one picture of a South Ossetian (Russian allied Cossack) militia member carrying an RPK with an M-4 carbine slung on his back.

    I would imagine the Georgian in country stockpile of M-4 carbines and their 5.56mm ammo would have been limited to training material used by Georgian troops bound for Iraq and therefor in rather short supply.

    ===

    I'm guessing the SAM defences around the Roki tunnel entrances must be pretty thick by now...

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    Investigators Can't Count the Bodies

    The Russian Prosecutor General’s investigative committee presented preliminary results in the criminal case connected with events in South Ossetia. The committee has been able to document the deaths of only 133 civilians, although the leadership of the unrecognized republic reported 1492 deaths. The number of peacekeepers killed remains unknown. However, genocide of the Ossetians carried out by Georgia has been established.
    http://www.kommersant.com/p1013890/R...etia_conflict/

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7572635.stm
    Last edited by kaur; 08-21-2008 at 05:57 AM.

  14. #94
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    Default A little on Russian Naval capabilities

    Got a kick out of this RIA Novosti O&A regarding the Russian fleet vs the USN in the Black Sea. The last sentence strikes me funny however, with analysts concluding the very capable Georgia military, but with no spirit to fight. The reports we have from our teams abroad indicate otherwise.

    "Our first encounter with far from the best foreign army has shown that the Georgians were equipped with better aircraft, tanks and communications. And what if they had fighter planes and state-of-the-art air defenses? It was our luck that Georgian soldiers proved to be so chicken-hearted."
    U.S. could tie down Russia's Black Sea Fleet - analyst

    The United States could send its warships to help Georgia. Yesterday the Russian General Staff confirmed this news: according to its sources, American naval forces will enter the Black Sea by the end of August. If this happens, Russia's Black Sea Fleet will be tied down, Georgia finds itself protected by U.S. ship air defenses, and all of the North Caucasus will come within the range of U.S. naval missiles.

    ... in the opinion of military expert Konstantin Makiyenko, even a modern cruiser and a few destroyers will be enough to neutralize Russia's Black Sea Fleet: "Today it is a museum-like collection of mismatched forces."
    Theoretically, Moscow could send forces from other fleets to the Black Sea, but there is practically nothing to send. "The Northern Fleet acts as a nuclear deterrent," Makiyenko said. "The Pacific Fleet is too far away and has no forces suitable for the task."

    The Baltic Fleet is compact-sized and well-balanced and has what is required, but its ships will be exposed to NATO's might while still en route to the Black Sea.

    "If the Americans approach Poti and Batumi, we will have only one option left to save face: turn our ships back," said a Black Sea Fleet source.

    The pro-nuclear bias should be corrected, and as soon as possible, say specialists.
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  15. #95
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Post Interesting

    Quote Originally Posted by kaur View Post
    I'm sure there will be more confirmed eventually regardless of what might have to be scewed or slightly redefined in order to do so.

    In the meantime if I were someone in SO who managed to get big bro pulled into this whole mess on apparently such inaccurate and inflated information, I think I'd be sweating a lot right now, not to mention making sure I had my LWAT filled out


    Another part to the whole thing is just like any crime scene, Since the Russians have been taking so long to "withdraw" their forces, by the time any internationally recognized investigators actually get to look into things it would be having a frat party at a crime scene then trying to come in and gather usable data.

    Then again I'm sure that's not the intent??
    Last edited by Ron Humphrey; 08-21-2008 at 01:42 PM. Reason: add
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    Is there anyone who can explain me the logic?

    On the first photo, there are Georgian villages.

    http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/fullMaps_Sa.nsf/luFullMap/EEF4F1A349D9B4CB852574B0006D71D9/$File/unosat_DMG_geo080825.pdf?OpenElement

    On the second photo, there is Tshinvali, which was under both side land and air forces attack during 2 days.

    http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/fullMaps_Sa.nsf/luFullMap/1269E9CB4650B9B3852574AD007513A6/$File/unosat_DMG_geo080822.pdf?OpenElement

    Why are villages more destroyed than Tshinvali?
    Last edited by kaur; 08-26-2008 at 06:47 PM.

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    Georgian MFA gives explanation.

    Purpose of this document

    In seeking to justify its invasion of Georgia, Russia has claimed that its forces entered Georgian territory only after a purported "surprise Georgian assault” on Tskhinvali; however, Moscow continues to refuse to make public the time at which Russia launched its invasion into Georgia.

    As the following timeline makes clear, Georgian Government forces advanced into the Tskhinvali region only after days of intensive shelling that caused civilian deaths in villages under Georgian control —and after confirmation that a massive Russian land force had begun invading Georgia through the Roki Tunnel.

    This was the culmination of months of meticulous planning by Russia; 40,000 Russian troops were soon occupying Georgia, as part of a simultaneous land, air and sea assault, unfolding a premeditated strategy that had little to do with Russia’s stated claim of protecting its recently created "citizens” in the Tskhinvali region.
    http://www.mfa.gov.ge/index.php?lang...1&info_id=7664

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    Default Estonian Head of State to the German Chancellor:

    the democratic countries are at a decision-making threshold.

    “We are face-to-face with behavior on the part of Russia that the European Union and NATO must take into account when making future choices, because these are organizations with member states and partners that are united by common values and ideals of freedom that Russia has now called into question,” the Estonian Head of State said, which he feels necessitates the restoration of the NATO security planning process, among other things. “In a situation where there is wish to destroy the democratic order and European values, it is of primary importance that the European Union and NATO maintain their solidarity and support for other democratic countries.”

    Both President Ilves and Chancellor Merkel assessed Russia’s actions against Georgia to be illegal aggression against a sovereign nation.

    According to the Estonian Head of State and the German Chancellor, Russia’s decision to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which are located on Georgian territory, as independent countries only increases tensions in such a complicated situation and violates the principle of the territorial integrity.
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    HRW, 29 Aug 08: Georgia: Satellite Images Show Destruction, Ethnic Attacks
    Recent satellite images released by the UN program UNOSAT confirm the widespread torching of ethnic Georgian villages inside South Ossetia, Human Rights Watch said today. Detailed analysis of the damage depicted in five ethnic Georgian villages shows the destruction of these villages around the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, was caused by intentional burning and not armed combat.

    “Human Rights Watch researchers personally witnessed Ossetian militias looting and burning down ethnic Georgian villages during their research in the area,” said Rachel Denber, deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia division of Human Rights Watch. “These satellite images indicate just how widespread the torching of these villages has been in the last two weeks.”

    The new satellite images, taken by a commercial satellite on August 19, were analyzed by experts of the Geneva-based UNOSAT program, which is part of the UN Institute for Training and Research and produces satellite-derived mapping in support of UN agencies and the international humanitarian community. UNOSAT experts identified visible structures on the images that were likely to have been either destroyed or severely damaged. The expert analysis indicates clear patterns of destruction that are consistent with the evidence gathered by Human Rights Watch researchers working in the region.....

  20. #100
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    Not sure where else to put this yet...

    ===

    Georgian Artillery Inventory prior to Russian Invasion:

    The BBC is lying (again)...

    Didn't anybody else notice that the bulk of the Georgian artillery inventory was left abandoned to the South and East of Gori?

    Dana 152mm SP guns parked on the side of the road to Tblisi, a whole row of D-30 122mm guns left lined up on a Gori city side street. The photographic evidence of this is stark and irrefutable.

    Globalsecurity/FAS reports that pre-war Georgia had just one (1) 203mm Pion 2S7 SP gun, just one (1) 2S19 SP 152mm gun, thirteen 2S5 SP 152mm guns, twenty-four 152mm Dana SP guns, fifteen (or sixteen) BM-21 MRLS, six (or eight) RM-70 MRLS, and other sources reveal less than a dozen of the Israeli made GRADLAR MRLS systems, only one of which has been confirmed as of the long range (45km) variety.

    That single long range truck mounted GRADLAR system may have been the only Georgian heavy artillery to have actually responded to the Russian invasion when it was reported firing on the Russian tank column exiting the Roki Tunnel on the night of August 8-9. That firing may be indirectly confirmed by the finding of a single unexploded M85 DPICM munition, which could only have been fired by the Israeli made GRADLAR system – or placed in its found location by Russian disinformation.

    The Georgian towed artillery included fourteen 152mm guns, and one hundred and eight 122mm guns.

    No matter how one adds up the Georgian artillery park, it doesn’t come close to the BBC’s claims of over 300 guns. My own estimate is less then 200 total pieces in the entire inventory, the majority of which appear to have never fired at the Russians (who were outside of the normal range of those guns), but were lost in the rout south and east of Gori.

    It should also be noted that for all of the visible damage sustained within the city of Tshkinvali, there were very few actual impact craters.


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