Rebuilding Georgia’s Military

Rebuilding Georgia’s Military

Just as the pendulum of conflict appears to swing decisively in the direction of irregular warfare, counterinsurgency and “stability operations,” the Russians have to go and confound things by rolling armored columns into Georgia led by that most iconic of conventional war weapons, the T-72, and conduct a traditional air campaign with front line bombers and ballistic missiles. How quickly things change.

The brief conflict in Georgia was a classic force-on-force engagement of the type some in the U.S. military have long yearned for so they can put into practice their “core competencies.” From all reports, Georgian military performance was lacking, hampered by poor logistics, communications problems and a senior general who reportedly fled the battle. Most units scattered ahead of the advancing Russian armored columns.

Vice President Dick Cheney is currently visiting Georgia and has vowed continued U.S. support, although the official line is that the U.S. is providing only humanitarian and economic assistance, for the moment anyway. A report this week in the New York Times says Georgia is intent on rebuilding and upgrading its military, and is hoping for U.S. equipment and training.

The U.S. military has been advising and equipping the Georgian military for some time. I saw Georgian soldiers over in Iraq and they appeared competent enough. The American officers I talked to who worked alongside them there held them in high regard. So what, if anything, does the Georgian military performance say about the training we provided? Did we train the Georgians for the wrong type of war, too much irregular war focus and not enough big battle emphasis?

I put that question to Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen last week. His answer: “First of all, we do the training that the Georgian government decides they want, and that’s really what we were doing. And I’m not sure, just based on the preponderance of [the Russian] force that, a different kind of training or, saying we weren’t focused in the right area — it was a significant force and I’m not sure it would have made much difference.”

According to U.S. Army Lt. Col. Robert Hamilton, a military fellow at CSIS, and former chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation at the American embassy in Tiblisi, the Russian 58th Army that invaded Georgia was one of Russia’s premier combat formations and greatly outnumbered the Georgian military. He writes in a commentary that Georgia’s ground forces consist of just four combat brigades. The bulk of one was in Iraq when the invasion began and another was being trained by U.S. advisers for an Iraq rotation. The Georgians had few troops in position to counter the Russian point of attack.

Hamilton writes, “Past U.S. military assistance to Georgia was not designed to equip it for war with Russia. Instead, it was designed initially to give the Georgian military the capability to rid its territory of Chechen militants Russia claimed were using it to rearm and refit, and later to train it in counter-insurgency operations as Georgian forces began to take on a significant role in Iraq.” He says the U.S. “deliberately” avoided training the Georgians for conventional warfare as it would be seen as too provocative.

Since we’re clearly going to have a role in equipping and training the “new” Georgian military, it makes sense to ask what adjustments should be made in that assistance going forward. Mullen said our military-to-military engagement has been stepped up in the wake of the Russian attack, but that it remains up to the Georgians as to how they want to develop their military in the future.

Hamilton offers some advice in that regard. He says the Russian action has actually made the job easier as the U.S. no longer has to worry about providing Georgia assistance that may be seen as too provocative. The focus, he says, should be on building up Georgia’s command and control systems, an integrated air defense, a maritime defense, artillery counter battery systems and a “highly-lethal anti-armor capability.” Also, the U.S. must continue to train Georgian forces in counterinsurgency so they can deploy alongside U.S. forces in Iraq or Afghanistan in the future.

A defense analyst I spoke with, who advises American ground forces, said to rebuild the Georgian military along conventional lines might be the wrong approach. Instead he suggested a different force model, that of Hezbollah. What Hezbollah did so effectively, as was shown in the 2006 Lebanon war, was combine modern weaponry with a distributed infantry force that fought in guerrilla fashion. Fighting as distributed networks, Hezbollah rarely presented an inviting target for Israeli air and artillery attack, but their well trained tactical units were able to swarm at the point of attack of Israeli armored incursions and hit the Israelis hard with precision anti-tank weaponry.

Equipped with top-shelf anti-armor systems, such as the U.S. Dragon and Javelin and the Russian-built RPG-29 and AT-14 Kornet, such a force would perhaps better be able to exploit Georgia’s mountainous and urbanized terrain against channelized Russian armored columns than a conventionally organized combat brigade, as Hezbollah did in south Lebanon. The lessons from the initial Russian incursion into Grozny in 1994 are instructive as well. Fighting in small tactical teams organized around close range anti-armor weapons, the Chechens savaged Russian tank columns.

Many in the U.S. military view such “hybrid” opponents, loosely organized, highly motivated infantry networks equipped with advanced weaponry, as the most challenging threat American troops may face in a future war. As the U.S. military ponders how to increase the combat power of the Georgian military to better defend itself against possible future Russian attacks, the Hezbollah model might be one to emulate. One thing the U.S. military cannot provide the Georgian military, and what Hezbollah had in spades and greatly increased their effectiveness, was very high discipline and motivation. The Georgians will have to come up with that on their own.

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The US should have been immediately flying in our fighters and also sending in some of our Amror Units from Germany. We should never have showed a white flag side like we did. We sent a message AGAIN that countries cannot count on the US in military situations again. Amessage not sent since Ronald Reagon was Presdient.

I’ve got a better idea. How about we do what George Washington suggested in his Farewell Address and avoid “foreign conflicts and entangling alliances” such that we preserve peace and prosperity at home and let other folks sort their fights out amongst themselves?

This is a great example of why the bulk of our Army and Marines should still be training for the “classic” warfare and leave the irregular warfare to Special Ops units and certain brigades or combat teams that are special ops capable, such as some MEUs.
And why Larry, should the U.S. have to stick its neck out for every flinging country that gets itself into some sort of conflict? Other countries had better learn to deal with their problems themselves. If our government decides to send troops to Georgia for combat purposes then fine, our M1A1s and 2s will make mince meat out of the T-72s, and our Air Force will effectively wipe out the Russians’ AF. But now is not the time to be sending troops anyway what with Iraq and Afghanistan going on.

Amazing that the US holds up the Hezbollah defense as the new paradigm in war fighting against an armored incursion by a superior force. The war vs. Iran should be restricted to aerial and special ops attacks or we, like the Israelis in Lebanon in 2006, will get our noses bloodied.

I completely disagree that the United States should have sent combat troops to the defense of the Georgians. The Georgians made the same mistake that has been repeated time and again throughout history; “don’t wake a sleeping bear.”

Russia wanted that territory and was going to take it regardless; premeditated or not. Nonetheless, do we really want to start WWIII over some country in the Caucuses that really has no bearing of strategic importance to the United States? Georgia’s claim to fame is that it is “the least corrupted of the former Soviet republics.”

There is no way given the Geo-Political situation in that region and the fact that we have all of our combat troops fighting other wars could we have even considered sending combat troops.

Of course, the Israeli lessons of the recent Lebanon war was that its move, driven by its Air Force general chief of staff, away from maneuver warfare (tanks), and toward standoff precision munitions (Air force strategic bombing) was in large part responsible for their poor performance (DTI covered this extensively).

The Russians were going classic maneuver warfare here.

Russia has put itself in a bad position, its severely damaged its relations with the western European nations. If it hadn’t invaded Georgia and just made itself look intimidating enough the western Europeans would have probably just made concession. Their mistake was crossing the wrong line in the wrong back yard.

This will have in the long run the reverse effect of what Russia will have wanted. Georgia and the Ukraine are both going to build up their defenses while doing anything to get into NATO. NATO will probably accept them, if for no other reason to than to have a buffer state against an ever more aggressive Russia.

With a Mountain range to the North & and a sea to its West. Georgia seems to have lacked the strategic plan/equipment to quickly create & exploit necessary choke points. Such as the ability to destroy tunnels & pathways through the Caucasus Mountains (ie. Roki Tunnel). An ability to deliver & rapidly emplace AT/AP/seaborne minefields from a distance. And the capability required to defeat, by ship and by shore, any airborne or amphibious assault.

A better model to follow might be that of the US Marine Corps. In which each person no matter their primary duty, remains a skilled infantryman. An entire force exceptionally trained to quickly switch & reorganize from a long/medium-game to a short-game (ie. irregular warfare), is a force to be reckoned with.

Do to the “Strategic Oil Pipeline” we have no other choice but to have some sort of military (related) involvement. I would be for building some sort of WALL to divide the two Countries.

I think that The U.S. should hold off and keep their agreements with Russia. We already are in war with Iraq and Afghanistan and not to mention a mission that could be going on that we don’t know about. We don’t understand that, yeah a country is hurt and needs help but what about our own problems. Do we really want to start a world war 3?? I mean, I’m in the armed forces and no matter what our decision as a country I will fight for it so my son and wife can live in peace, but is it something that we can avoid as long as Russia cooperates?

World War III already happened; it was the Cold War. Maybe the US and Soviets didn’t face off directly but there were proxy wars being fought all over the world.

World War IV is happening now with the West vs. Radical Islam.

The question is: Would it make sense for the Georgians to fight the Russians in a Guerilla style war? Just look at the results the Chechens achieved. The Russians went in with heavy fire power and levelled the place until the rebels left. Now Chechnya is completly destroyed, the live of the people is pretty bad since they sit right between the rebels and the Russian army.

Loosing quickly and keep your country and its vital infrastructure can be more important than a military conflict at all costs.

I wrote an article about it in my blog: http://​warbuff​.wordpress​.com/​2​0​0​8​/​0​9​/​0​8​/​d​i​d​-​g​e​o​r​g​i​a​-​w​e​n​t​-​f​o​r​-​a​-​q​u​i​c​k​-​m​i​l​i​t​a​r​y​-​d​e​f​e​a​t​-​t​o​-​s​p​a​r​e​-​t​h​e​-​c​o​u​n​t​r​y​-​a​n​d​-​e​c​o​n​o​my/

Of course if it is about “live or death” the Georgians should act like Hezbollah. That South Ossetia and Abkhazia was lost was a situation the Georgians already faced the last 10 years.

Is our department of defense seriously thinking of turning the Georgians into another thug/militia/terrorist/‘freedom fighter’ group?

Didn’t we learn anything from the ‘pious’ freedom fighting mujahideen in Afghanistan, the “American committee for Peace in Chechnya” or the constant terrorist destruction that is partly the result of Brzezinski/Carter’s decision to appease and ally with fascists to fight the commies?

So, okay, let’s turn the Georgian army into Hezbollah. We can set them up with some smuggling operations in North Carolina and Central America to pay some of their expenses. Then we can find a friendly Islamofascist regime among our 9/11 sponsoring Gulf-state friends to fund the rest. We can set up a neo-Hezbollah militia in Georgia whose “high discipline and motivation” will soon make it a state within a state.

Then they can beat up the Russians. The Russians will respond by flattening Georgia, and when it’s all over, neo-Hezbollah can use their high discipline and motivation to take over the ruins that are now Georgia, where they will bully the locals and the neighbors. Brilliant plan.

This article misses the point that Georgia started the war with a heavy bombardment of civilians in South Ossetia. To reward and rearm the aggressor presently led by an unstable coward shows not only zero morality but no understanding of the geopolitial consequences of choosing a path of confrontation with Russia.

For many years it was the official goal of the Georgian government to restore territorial integrity of Georgia. That is to take back South Ossetia and Abkhazia. How could the Hezbollah model help with this goal?

It is quite useless to look for a right answer to a wrong question. If Russia wanted to take any more of Georgian territory then why did not they do that already while Georgian army was unable to resist?

The only two things that make sense for Georgia are

1. forget South Ossetia and Abkhazia, stop military spendings, and try to restore friendly relations with its large northern neighbor;

2. prepare for another suicidal attack on breakaway regions in desperate hope that by some miracle it will work this time around.

There is just no need for Georgians to bother with protecting from possible Russian attacks unless they are going to bring them upon themselves again.

Larry at the top of the comments is insane. Just so we’re all aware of it, Larry’s crazy.

That’s the same type of moronic thinking that got us into this ridiculous mess in Iraq.

Larry, go upstairs, your mother’s calling you for dinner.

Gary Brecher has written good rebuttal and alternative viewpoint to this article of yours.


Georgia started this with a sneak attack on a region that has been semi-autonomous for about a decade and a half. They used some lame “they shot at us with small arms across the border” (yeah, right) excuse to invade, and chose to do it during the Olympics when people and media would be somewhat preoccupied. And they did it with the blessing of the U.S. and NATO, who apparently thought provoking Russia was some kind of good idea. Well guess what? They got more than they bargained for, and now Bush and Cheney are out lying through their teeth (as usual) and that bimbo with the IQ of a rock Sarah Palin is running her mouth about going to war with Russia, a nuclear power. Charlie Gibson of ABC did a pretty good job of showing what an uninformed fascist that woman is, she says things like that, and obviously had no idea what the Bush Doctrine is when he asked her about it, he had to explain it to her. And this woman is going to be one heartbeat away from having her hand in the proverbial nuclear button? That should scare the hell out of everyone. And for the guy who said “our M1A1’s and A2’s and our air force” would easily beat Russia’s, pull your head out of wherever you keep it and unwrap the flag around it. This isn’t Panama, or Granada, or Somalia, or Afghanistan or Iraq. This is Russia, a European power with first rate air defense systems and military and oh by the way thermo-nuclear (the word Bush can’t pronounce) weapons.

That’s a good article and good commentary. However, the question should be asked, of the gung-ho war enthusiasts here (including, perhaps, the author of the article) just where does the line get drawn between shipping Georgians weapons for the putative guerrilla war, and confronting Russia mano-a-mano? How would the USA react to Russia rebuilding the Mexican military and preparing it to take back Texas? America would be enraged, and there’s no reason to assume the Russian reaction would be much milder.

Confronting and forcing a fight with Russia is an insane proposition. Mycroft is right about the Larrys running around.

Maybe after the US-Russian nuclear exchanges, and after the survivors on both sides emerge from their cellars to contemplate slow death amidst the radioactive ash that used to be their homes, will the insanity of forcing a war with Russia sink in.

Ok, let’s say the US decides to escalate its provocation of Russia by rearming the Georgians, training them for clandestine warfare, and then sending them to attack Russians, Ossetians and Abkhazians. The whole thing is doomed from the start and may backfire ferociously on the US.

The Chechians failed in their long guerrilla war against Russia, and the Chechians, as guerrilla fighters, are as wily and ruthless as they come. The Russians surely now possess a certain competency in this sort of warfare as a result of this recent experience. Additionally, the Chechians had the advantage of fighting amongst a civilian population that was mostly sympathetic throughout much of the conflict. The Georgians won’t have that luxury; they will have to sneak into hostile territory to carry out their attacks. The Ossetians and Abkhazians despise the Georgians more than ever, and the Georgian fighters will have little to no chance of blending in with the local population within the two territories. This is especially true considering the Georgians have been largely ethnically cleansed from them since onset of the recent conflict.

The irony of ironies is that many Chechens are now fighting alongside the Russians against the Georgians. They do this because the Ossetians, although not muslim, are their ethnic kin. I read an article that mentioned that an all-Chechen paratroop brigade within the Russian army had fought the Georgians with great effectiveness and without losing a man. Also, many Chechen irregulars poured in during the conflict, eager for the opportunity to kill Georgians.

Russia itself, as a direct result of the the conflict — and the accompanying surge in hostility directed at it from the west — will now rearm with even greater urgency than has been the case in the last few years.

In short, the Georgians don’t have a prayer.

Russia has many opportunities to retaliate against the US for any trouble visited upon it by the US-backed Georgians. They can withdraw US/Euro access to Russian airspace, thus hindering operations in Afghanistan. They may choose to make or renew alliances with select Afghan forces battling the US/Euro occupation and arm them with MANPADS (more irony). They could arm the Al-Madhi army with powerful anti-armor and other weapons. Conversely, they could simply give them to Iran, knowing the Iranians will then funnel them to The Al-Madhi army and Hezbollah. They could insinuate to Israel that unless it uses its heavy influence over US foreign policy decision making to deter the Americans, they will arm both Iran and Syria with the most advanced S-300 anti-aircraft systems. And then there’s South America and the Caribbean …

No, no, we are all georgians now, remember? As a Norwegian who has to live every day with the russians on my northern flank and a continuing borderdispute about the arctic simmering along in the background, I do not feel too happy about McCain and the gang wanting to go to war with Russia. The first part to go would be Finmark, wich NATO doesnt even pretend to want to defend anymore. When I was in the army 15 years ago, we were taught that our mission was to fight for three days as we waited for the US to come rolling in. These days, I think redeployment from Iraq is going to take a bit more time.

Since this is a DoD-blog, I have got to ask: Has the US gone insane? By enraging the Russians as well as keeping a halfway war with Iran simmering, you have confined logistics to Afghanistan to one route only, Pakistan. ANd then you declare unofficial war on them too? What is this, some rapturist insanity? I dont understand, and since I officially am a NATO reservist I think at some point someone should explain to me the long term strategies. Please.

We are lucky that even Mr Bush is smarter than Larry, otherwise the whole world would be ruined just because of the bloody idiot Saakashvili with his military ambitions. Still, what worries me is the speeches of Sara Palin who might be the next US vice-president and potentially the president. Her knowledge of the international politics, relations and military is equal to knowledge of a house wife and when that housewife directs the military of the superpower, that’s abig worry.

Russia within the last 15 years was humiliated so many times that now it decided to show some force. NATO is getting close to Russian borders despite assusrances signed with Gorbachov. Western countries lied and continue to give misleading info to Russia. But the biggest mistake is we have to understand Russia is different as well as China is different. We should not teach them how to live, we should build strong relationship based on common issues. Finally, we have to be careful in military support. West supported Osama and Taliban when the Russians were in Afghanistan, now we are fighting against Taliban. Today we are training Saakashvili who is just a crazy dictator, tomorrow we will be fighting against him asking Russia for help.

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Hi webmaster!

The advice to emulate Hezbollah is wrongheaded. A key component of Hezbollah relative success was their readiness to fight from within their own civilian population, and general avoidance of extensive strategic bombing or massive civilian casualties by Israel. The attacks on Israeli tanks were also made easier by a lack of a massive rapid maneuver with overwhelming power by Israel. All these were political decisions, not military. These political choices will not apply to Russia, and may not even be repeated by Israel.

What will be the outcome of the Georgian-Ossetian war?
What will be the outcome of this conflict? I study the Bible and have found out that at the appointed time Russia will return. (Daniel 11:29a) This prophecy has started to be fulfilled. After that, “the king of the north” (Russia) will come somewhere into the south. Many indicate that this might be Georgia (Georgia and Russia already are preparing for another war). When this happens, according to the biblical foretelling, the West will come against Russia. “The king of the north” will be broken and retreat. (Daniel 11:29b,30) At that time, peace will be taken from the earth and the “great sword” – nuclear sword — will be used. (Revelation 6:4) However, it will be neither the great tribulation nor “the end of the world” (Armageddon). As Jesus foretold, that will be “the beginning of birth pains”. (Mathew 24:7,8)

I wonder if the Russians, or anyone else for that matter, study the bible to set their war strategies.

Growing up in semi-rural Georgia (USA) I have heard end of times prophecies like this a thousand times and never has a one of them become manifest. I hope the leaders of this country are looking beyond prophesy to consider Foreign Policy.

“A defense analyst I spoke with, who advises American ground forces, said to rebuild the Georgian military along conventional lines might be the wrong approach. Instead he suggested a different force model, that of Hezbollah.”

I disagree.
First, unlike Hezbollah, georgian government/army is not in the position of clandestine interest group dispersed and hidden among civilian population. Guerilla tactics would not halt russian invasion, Tbilisi and other cities would be seized and the govermnent would be swiftly replaced by pro-Russian leadership, very much like in the case of 1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia.

Second, russian army is not US or Israeli army. Despite all the allegations of israeli war crimes in gaza, IDF is stil a relatively “civilized force”, not targetting masses of civilians on purpose. If the “Hezbollah tactics” was applied, Russia would probably declare Georgia a “terrorist state” and would wage a brutal indicriminate war like it did before in Chechnya. I could imagine carpet bombing of Tbilisi, threats and terror upon the civilians, executions, etc. Saakashvili would have to surrender to protect georgian peoples’ lives.

It is naturally questionable if there was ANY way of defending Georgia. I would agree that there is still too much stress on counter-insurgency and that after Cold War’s end, conventional war threat is widely underestimated. In my humble opinion, however, most important factor was poor morale and overall strategy on the Georgian side, including highly controversial attempt to retake control of South Ossetia.

I wonder if there are any psychologists reading this page who would be interested in giving their opinion about the psychological effects of the routs that 3 of the teams that will be in NFL playoff games next weekend will have after suffering humiliating defeats yesterday to the same teams that they will play next weekend.
Will the teams that won big yesterday have a huge psychological edge or will the teams that were defeated
be so motivated for revenge that it will overcome the idea that the other teams seems to be so much better at this point in time. If the losing teams had lost by these scores early in the season they could have thought,
OK we are a much better team that we were then. The thing they may think now is how much can change in one week? Well football is a game of inches. A tipped pass here, a head bob there causing an illegal procedure penalty, can change the dynamics of the game as you well know. Yet unless, Arizona, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia can beat their opponents badly it will appear that they have advanced even though they are really not really the better team.
Look is such a discussion on this thread really inappropriate? No one had used this thread for many many weeks. What harm would it do to be nice to me an Arab at heart?
There was a woman on CNN a few days ago who said, we can not win the war on terrorism by being nice to Arabs. How is it that she has so much knowledge of Arabs? Well, her brother died in the World Trade Center. That in and of itself does not mean that she is wrong. But as an amateur historian I would like to know when in the hell has the American government ever been nice to Arabs? Being nice to the Saudi Royal family or the Jordanian Royal family does not count. So, if we have never done it how could anyone say that it would not work?
Anyways I really just want to talk about football I just put that other stuff in there to make it at least look like I was trying to keep the discussion on foreign policy which is related to Georgia in a round about way.
Yes am an insane and if you are not insane by now then there is clearly something wrong with you.


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