Decade of the Five Day War

August 8, 2018 marks 10 years since the start of the five-day Russian-Georgian war. What conclusions were drawn by the Russian military leadership after those events, and how did they affect the appearance of our Armed Forces,"MK"told the military expert - Deputy Director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and TechnologiesKonstantin Makienko.
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Let me remind you that the beginning of the war, dubbed "8.8.8" (the fighting began on the night of the 7th to the 8th, 8 months of 2008), is considered to be a powerful blow by Georgian artillery against Tskhinval. Although initially the conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia in the form of sluggish military opposition lasted from the late 1980s. The most bloody battles between Georgia and the self-proclaimed Republic of South Ossetia took place in 1991-1992, after which Tbilisi imposed a complete economic blockade of South Ossetia.
In 2008, the situation escalated to the limit. At the same time, in the second half of July, Georgia hosted joint military exercises with the United States, at which the scenario of attack and seizure of the territory of South Ossetia was worked out.At the same time, Russia conducted its Caucasus 2008 exercise, which was attended by virtually all security forces, including railway troops, which completely restored the railways in Abkhazia, which had been destroyed by the Georgian military. It was clear that a major military conflict was ripening.
When, on the night of August 7, 2008, Georgian artillery hit Tskhinval and the positions of Russian peacekeepers on the line of separation of the sides, Russian troops stationed at the borders of South Ossetia turned to active operations. Later, the operation was called "forcing Georgia to peace."
Now it is obvious that such a name was justified. The Georgian-South Ossetian conflict, which lasted for decades, ended with the creation of two independent states. Though they consider each other hostile, they no longer conduct military operations. The Russian military contingent is based on the territory of South Ossetia, and the units of the South Ossetian army are actually part of the Russian army - the recently signed bilateral military agreements secured this special status.
At the same time, the results of the five-day Georgian war significantly influenced not only the state of affairs in Georgia and South Ossetia. In Russia, they gave the last, most powerful impetus for the final decision of the country's leadership to begin reforming the Armed Forces. Before that, army reform was recognized as necessary, but was constantly delayed due to endless disputes and various theoretical studies of reformers, as well as a lack of funds.
The Russian-Georgian war, despite the victory of Russia in it, clearly demonstrated the low effectiveness of the Armed Forces existing at that time in the country. She clearly showed the numerous problems of the army, including the ineffectiveness of its management and equipment.
According to experts, the loss of weapons, equipment and people, unjustifiably numerous for such a conflict, was largely due to the inconsistency of the actions of units and formations of various types and types of troops, as well as the lack of modern means of communication. It came to a complete absurdity when the commander of a tank army was forced to communicate with subordinates using a personal mobile phone.Aviation, artillery, infantry had only a conditional connection, acting in fact independently, which is unacceptable in the conditions of modern combat.
Following the results of this war, the president of Russia issued a secret decree - he had never been published anywhere, which defined clear directions for reforming the Russian army. A new armaments program was adopted, for which for the first time in the entire history of post-Soviet Russia, trillions of rubles were allocated, which immediately irritated a number of democratic politicians. However, the leadership of the country had the final conviction: the country needs a new army equipped with modern means of communication, electronic warfare, able to fight in various theaters of war not with huge fronts, as in the Great Patriotic War, but with compact mobile units included genera and types of the Armed Forces.
Here's what Konstantin Makienko, deputy director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, told MK about the significance of the experience of the five-day Georgian war for the development of the Russian army:
- The main conclusion was that the Armed Forces of Russia,retained at that time, in fact, the appearance of a mass mobilization army of Soviet times, had little opportunity even to participate in limited conflicts, since the effective use of the Armed Forces required mobilization measures. Without them, the combat strength was severely limited by chronic shortages and low combat readiness.
- Before that, the military itself constantly argued: what kind of army should be - contractual or draft.
- Attempts to maintain both the mobilization army, and certain separate forces of constant combat readiness led to the economically unbearable existence of two parallel armies, and also failed. Therefore, as a result of the use of the Armed Forces against Georgia, a final conclusion was made that conflicts in the territory of the former USSR are the main potential threat, and for effective use of the army in these conflicts, it is necessary to abandon the Soviet mobilization system of recruitment and transfer to the armed forces completely consisting of units of constant combat readiness with normal staffing.
“Badly trained conscripts got into this war, for which the warlords later had to make excuses.” But what to do if the conscripts were formed for example, the crews of tanks, which were alerted and thrown into battle. There was simply no time and opportunity to replace them with contractors. This fact also affected a large number of losses?
- The losses in “8.8.8” were, of course, substantial and absolutely unacceptable from the point of view of the limited scale of the conflict and the overall low level of the enemy. The loss of the Russian side amounted to 67 dead soldiers and 283 wounded.
- Aviation losses were also very large. What was the reason here? There, after all, soldiers conscripts do not fight?
- In the Russian aviation, the Tu-22M3 long-range bomber was lost, two Su-24M front-line bomber, three Su-25 attack planes, and three more Su-25 attack planes were written off after the damage received. In the accident, one Mi-8MTKO helicopter was lost. In fact, the Budennovsk assault aviation regiment lost (together with decommissioned) one Su-25 aircraft to 17 combat sorties — the level of casualty losses of the summer of 1941, completely absurd for modern aviation operating against an enemy with weak air defense.At the same time, of the six downed aircraft, only two were reliably shot down by the Georgians, and the cause of the others' losses was apparently “friendly fire”.
- That is, ours shot down their own due to the fact that they did not have normal means of communication and control?
- The insufficiently high level of the overall organization and training of the personnel of the units, the numerous problems of the Russian side with control and intelligence became the undoubted main reason for such high losses. Aviation in general operated almost blindly. This was largely due to the “cheap” mobilization army, which had been chronically underfunded for 15 years before that. All this had to be corrected in the following years. The military-technical aspects here were strictly secondary.
- Today, Georgia is the main and first contender for joining NATO, as was recently announced by the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg at the Summit in Brussels. True, he did not specify exactly when it will happen. But is it possible, with the support of Georgia, NATO, to predict the development of a new military conflict in South Ossetia?
- It is hardly possible, because the lesson of Georgia is taught. And a good lesson.I think he will be remembered for a long time. In addition, Georgia’s entry into NATO in the foreseeable future is unrealistic. Georgia’s current extensive contacts with NATO are rather the Alliance’s desire to give Georgians some kind of moral compensation for their dedication to the idea of ​​joining the North Atlantic Alliance, and nothing more.

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