Ossetian War commentary — 14 August
Excellent piece in Small Wars Journal:
…The return of strongman rule to Russia, and particularly one who regards the demise of the Soviet Union as a historic catastrophe, is now a fact of international life to which we will all have to adjust to.
Second, Putin and his government are attempting to establish the legitimacy of a Russian sphere of influence that looks very much like a reestablishment of the old Soviet empire. This is the core of an enormously sophisticated information campaign that is having some success — at least around Washington — in appealing to the realpolitik crowd who look for excuses for inaction in the case of a Russian invasion of their democratic neighbor. …
From a military perspective, the first impression is that the Russians laid an effective “strategic ambush” …. For historians, a retrospective on Nazi Germany’s offensive to “protect” the Sudaten Czechs shows a striking similarity of purpose and method.
… U.S. military assistance has been focused on preparing Georgian soldiers for duty alongside U.S. forces in Iraq, not in larger-scale, combined-arms warfare, and it shows….
… The Russians have “got” modern war, however outdated their “kinetic” operations may appear. In their operational concept, the information war preceded, and is superior to, actual combat operations on the land and sea. Western military authorities, whose ability to influence information operations of this type are nonexistent, can only look on in frustration….
The first, obvious, lesson is that great-power competition is back…. Russia is now an active menace. Whether “old Europe” quite understands the problem is for the moment moot — the newly-formed ex-Soviet democracies have the message loud and clear, as their timely and courageous support for the Saakashvilli government shows. As scholar Fred Kagan said recently, there is a “new axis” of anti-Russian democracies around the edge of the old Soviet empire. Supporting those states and securing their future must be a top priority for the U.S. and NATO, while Russia passes through the Putin phase and perhaps into a more benign future — the encouragement of which should be the top priority for U.S. and Western diplomacy. If this sounds like containment, well, it is.
For military strategy, the U.S. should immediately revamp its foreign military assistance programs to those countries, including a post-invasion Georgia. …. Advanced integrated air-defenses (the Georgians had none), antitank munitions, precision weapons all must be provided …. Military assistance groups should be stationed in frontline states, and military exercises conducted…. The Russians will cry foul, but their military authorities will understand what they are seeing — no more easy campaigns. Military aid must include methods and training in our best techniques for computer network defense…
Finally the U.S. government, even in this time of political transition, must be steadfast in exposing for the world’s media the true story of what is happening here…”
Don’t ask impertinent questions like that jackass Adept Lu.