Friday, August 22, 2008

When Only One Side Wages War

This article discusses why the Russians won the war on the battlefield. At the heart of it is the contention that Russia won with mass and not quality:

For an invading force from what used to be a military superpower, Russia's 58th Army did not look like a modern fighting unit. Victory came as a result of overwhelming numerical superiority and a textbook Soviet-style strategy based on detailed planning that leaves little room for flexibility. It was shock and awe by force of numbers, rather than by precision-guided weapons.

The Russians have learnt lessons from American campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and from their own experiences in the Balkans, but the Georgia operation was old-style fighting with Cold War-era equipment.

Force of numbers? Overwhelming numerical superiority? The Russians had about a single division's worth of troops out of a total force of 20,000, including Chechen thugs and local militias in tow. While the Russians may have had the advantage of numbers at the point of attack, that is only because Georgia did not get their entire army into the fight before the ceasefire.

I suspect that the analysis of the Russians following a rigid plan is probably right, but the Russians used their air power well enough to savage the Georgian army to let the Russians march through Gori. The Russians were able to follow the plan and the Georgians could not disrupt the plan.

And the Cold War-era equipment charge? Yes but so what? What do you think our M-1s, M-2s, M-109s, Humvees, and F-16s are? Yes, we added in networked communications and precision weapons with a flexible and imaginative plan, but we used Cold War weapons, too.

More important was that the Georgians were ill-prepared to face the sudden Russian blitz:

Georgia did not believe Russia would respond to its offensive in South Ossetia and was completely unprepared for the counter-attack, the deputy defence minister has admitted. Batu Kutelia told the Financial Times that Georgia had made the decision to seize the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali despite the fact that its forces did not have enough anti-tank and air defences to protect themselves against the possibility of serious resistance. ...

Georgia’s 20,000-man army, built up at a cost of $2bn with the help of US trainers and cast-off Warsaw Pact equipment, was organised to deal with “brushfire” wars with separatist enclaves on its borders and to contribute to missions such as Iraq as a way of shoring up Georgia’s ties with the west, not to do battle with Russia.

Lack of proper weapons, proper training, and proper attitude. The lack of attitude meant that the Georgian military only sent a portion of its strength into battle. And the portion sent in wasn't expecting to fight an army. Which disproves the Leftist chant that it takes two to make a war. Just one side needs to show up ready for war. The Russians were the one side.

Retrain those Georgians to stop conventional armored assaults and large-scale airborne landings. We need the Georgians to hold Georgia more than we need them in Iraq or Afghanistan. And the Georgians need to be worried about holding Tbilisi, Gori, and Poti more than taking back those separatist enclaves.