August 20, 2008

How many combat casualties were there in the Russian-Georgian war?

I wasn't paying close attention to the recent fighting, but I'm wondering how many soldiers actually died in battle (as opposed to dying in, say, a car crash while fleeing the frontlines). Anybody know? These are two armies equipped with extremely lethal modern weapons, but my impression is that this wasn't exactly a 21st Century Battle of Stalingrad.

Some cynics have been asking, "Would you want your son to die for Georgia?" but it appears not too many Georgians are willing to die for South Ossetia.

"What if they threw a war and nobody showed up?"

That seems to be a general pattern these days, at least in in the parts of the world with lots of TV channels. For example, in the Balkan wars in the 1990s, the politicians had a hard time getting their armies to deploy (draft evasion was rampant), so they often let gangs out of prison and recruited soccer hooligan clubs to do the fighting. Of course, the fighting tended to be more like the St. Valentine's Day Massacre than the Battle of Gettysburg. Bullies aren't very brave.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

Does anyone believe any of the Russian or Georgian coverage of the war? Two state-controlled media machines propagandizing the same conflict. If you do an image search on the conflict you see the same sites, people, soldiers, etc, again and again.

Anonymous said...

Steve you should run more on the youth and inexperience of the Georgian ministers.

Georgia entrusts future to youthful new government

Nikolai Topuria, Agence France Presse, 2/18/04

The former Soviet republic of Georgia put its trust in youth this week when the country's parliament approved the appointment of one of the youngest governments in Europe, with the average age of cabinet ministers hovering around 40. The new cabinet was created in the image of Mikhail Saakashvili, a US-educated lawyer who swept to power in a bloodless revolution last year to become, at the age of 36, Europe's youngest elected head of state. Like Saakashvili, most of the ministers confirmed by parliament Tuesday are young, multilingual, have a Western education and are unsullied by having worked in the administration of his ousted predecessor Eduard Shevardnadze. "This is probably the most progressive and interesting government in Eastern Europe," Saakashvili said as he unveiled his ministers to parliament. "(Now) we have to roll up our sleeves and start the hard work."

The youngest of the bunch are two 28-year-olds, Economy Minister Irakli Rekhviashvili and Fuel and Energy Minister Nika Gilauri. A graduate of Princeton University, Rekhviashvili worked for the United Nations and the Open Society Institute, funded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros, before being catapulted into governemnt. Gilauri worked in private finance. Georgia's new Minister of State Security Zurab Adeishvili is another youngster. The 31-year-old, who speaks English and German, studied at Groningen Royal University in Holland and sat as an opposition member of parliament before his promotion to the cabinet.

30-something Gela Bezhuashvili, who takes over from 55-year-old David Tevzadze as defence minister, is typical of the new intake. Bezhuashvili speaks flawless English and, outside office hours, he favours wearing jeans and a baseball cap. Saakashvili has described him proudly as "the only minister in eastern Europe who is a Harvard graduate." Other under-40's in the new cabinet are Interior Minister Gia Baramidze, an alumnus of Georgetown University in the United States who turned 36 in January, and Zurab Noghaideli, who at 39 is returning for his second spell as Georgia's finance minister.

Justice Minister Giorgi Papuashvili is 32 years of age, and Culture Minister Georgi Gabashvili is 31. Minister for Labour, Health and Social Security Georgi Tsereteli is another youngster, although he will hit middle age next Monday when he turns 40. Even Zurab Zhvania, the newly-appointed prime minister who helped lead the so-called "rose revolution" which toppled Shevardnadze last November, is only 40 years of age. He will work in tandem with Nino Burjanadze, the 39-year-old mother-of-two who is speaker of parliament. Saakashvili, who has pledged to wage war on the corruption which blighted Shevardnadze's administration had no choice but to opt for a youthful team, said Georgian political analyst Ghia Nodia.

"Corruption is a big problem in Georgia and this means that everyone who has experience in government is suspected of corruption," he said. "These people have not worked in the government. "Most of these people have some kind of Western education or experience of working in international organisations... It is a post-revolutionary government with lots of young people." But despite their youthful energy, the new ministers will have a steep learning curve -- particularly in Georgia, one of Europe's most dysfunctional states which is wracked by crime, poverty and separatist conflicts.

"What can such inexperienced people change in a country which has been standing still for so long?" said Albina Sukhiashvili, a pensioner in the capital Tbilisi. "Maybe they won't start stealing from the budget, but I don't expect any progress either." There is though, one old hand left in the cabinet: 58-year-old Tedo Japaridze will serve as foreign minister. He worked for several years under Shevardnadze as head of the National Security Council but was kept on in the government because he is widely seen as an experienced statesman untainted by corruption.

Nika Gilauri was promoted to Finance Minister at last year when he was 32 or so. And Nika's brother, Irakli Gilauri, runs the bank of Georgia and can't be older than mid-30s.

Steve, you should also ask why the Bush administration's foreign policy in Eastern Europe appears to dovetail with Soros when everywhere else, it does not.

Lastly, there is a pressing need to automated Georgian-English website translation. English speakers can figure what is being said in Russian or Spanish, but Georgian translation can't be found.

strnbrg said...

If the Georgians had done any significant fighting, the many western reporters running around there would have noticed. Maybe, in their effort to be accepted as a European country they're trying to demonstrate exquisite post-historical European nonviolence.

lcoscare said...

The funniest thing about the news coverage is that all the protest signs, all the graffiti on the wall is in english. I've been to a few former soviet countries, and english is not commom. If they really wanted the russians to leave, why not write in russian since they were required to learn russian in school back in the day.
And where did they get all those european flags that I see?? I doubt the local quick-e-mart in georgia is selling european flags.
Sometimes I wonder if they really think we're that stupid.

Anonymous said...

Young, Western-Educated Ministers Help Sustain Georgia's Rose Revolution - World Politics Review

Adam Wolfe | Bio | 18 Jul 2007

World Politics Review Exclusive

The "Color Revolutions" that swept through Eastern Europe and Central Asia in 2004-2005 have mostly faded out. Ukraine's Orange Revolution has given way to political clan warfare and hopes for reform have been put on hold. The Tulip Revolution brought little more than a change of personnel to Kyrgyzstan. Only Georgia's Rose Revolution has maintained its hue.

Why has Georgia been able to maintain its revolutionary spirit despite several setbacks over the past three years? One reason seems to be the talented, young technocrats the revolution placed in Georgian ministries.

Just as the "Chicago Boys" famously helped right Chile's economy for Pinochet in the 1970s and President Kennedy brought his "brain trust" to Washington in the 1960s, today Georgia's ministries are being run by young, often Western-educated men and women who hold a similar vision for Georgia's future.

Mikheil Saakashvili was only 36 when he was elected as Georgia's president in 2004, making him the youngest president in Europe. Saakashvili quickly moved to orient Georgia's foreign policy toward the West, to impose free market principles on the economy, and to root out corruption in the nation's security and police forces. To help him achieve these goals he turned to many of the Rose Revolution's leaders and the younger class that supported the movement.

Alexander "Kakha" Lomaia, the minister of education and science, was critical in surrounding Saakashvili with young technocrats. He was previously the head of the Open Society Institute and the local Eurasia Foundation in Tbilisi, where he helped to convince many well-educated twenty-somethings to stay in Georgia, or return to their home country, rather than pursue careers in Western Europe.

Aleksi Aleksishvili earned a master's degree in Public Administration from Duke University. Now, at 33, he is Georgia's minister of finance. The Minister of Justice, Gia Kavtaradze, 37, has a law degree from Indiana University. Giorgi Arveladze, 29, studied at Tel-Aviv University before becoming the minister of economy.

Before becoming Georgia's first civilian defense minister, Gela Bezhuashvili studied at the Southern Methodist University School of Law in Dallas and Harvard's JFK School of Government. Now at the ripe old age of 40, he is Georgia's foreign minister, where he has advanced Georgia's push to enter into the European Union and participate more closely with NATO.

The current minister of defense is Davit Kezerashvili, who studied in Russia and Israel before becoming part of Saakashvili's inner circle. Before taking over the defense portfolio, Kzerashvili worked for the finance ministry, where he headed up the financial police force, charged with fighting smuggling and financial crimes. Kezerashvili has yet to reach his 30th birthday.

Other examples include Anna Zhvania, who runs the secret service while still in her thirties, and Petre Tsiskarishvili, the 33-year-old Minister of Agriculture.

Being young and educated abroad has distinct advantages for Georgia's ministers. They are untainted by the corruption that plagued the previous government, and they are well equipped to deal with Western politicians and investors. This has contributed to many of the successes that Georgia's government can claim since 2004.

Reforms aimed at the police, intelligence services, and security forces have dramatically reduced corruption in Georgia. A recent survey by the International Republican Institute (IRI) found that 95 percent of the population reported not having to pay a bribe in the past year, a vast improvement over the days when the traffic police openly demanded bribes.

A new simplified tax code has made running a business more affordable in Georgia. The new code reduced the opportunities for corruption and lowered the tax burden for most businesses, while also increasing the government's revenues. Georgia has moved from 124th to 99th on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index since 2003.

The government's education reforms have been widely praised in Georgia. New national exams help to ensure that competition for college entrance is based on merit and not influenced by the corruption that plagued the previous system. Also, by empowering local school boards to take on greater decision making responsibilities, schools are more accountable to the communities they serve.

Some of the policy changes undertaken by the young government may pay off greatly in the future, but have also caused some complications. Tbilisi has drastically shifted its foreign policy toward the West, and away from Russia. The goal of this policy is to join the European Union and NATO. The policy has helped to attract foreign direct investment from the West, but it has antagonized Russia and complicated the South Ossetia and Abkhazia situations.

Still, the shift appears to be very popular in Georgia, with large majorities supporting closer relations with the United States and EU. In fact, even when most U.S. allies are looking to cut their losses in Iraq, Georgia is increasing its troop commitment in Iraq from 850 to 2,000.

There are other challenges ahead for the young government. Reforming the judiciary system has proven far more difficult than other areas. Three years on, Georgia's judicial system remains far from being an independent branch of government.

While the government can rightly claim general success for its economic reforms, its system of privatization appears insufficient in many areas. Critics have focused on the lack of transparency in Georgia's privatization efforts and claim that Saakashvili moved too quickly to sell the government's share in important industries. For example, at the beginning of 2007, the government announced that it would sell all of the state-owned hospitals by the end of the year.

Another problem has been the continued infighting within the Rose Revolution government. Power struggles have slowed reforms in some areas and have caused frequent reshuffles within the cabinet.

In fact, the there are signs that the population is growing tired of the young Georgian politicians. The IRA survey found that, all things being equal, only 26 percent of the population would vote for the "more active, younger candidate," down from 41 percent in October 2004.

Still, so far, the young technocrats running Georgia have helped keep the Rose Revolution's spirit shining bright. The youthful ministers have guided their country toward the West and brought significant reforms to the domestic economy. Whether or not this momentum can be maintained remains an open question, but for now the baby-faced government in Georgia appears to be aging rather well.

Adam Wolfe is a senior analyst with the Power and Interest News Report.


testing99 said...

I don't think there has been much casualties since the first week of the War.

Georgian forces were not prepared for the ferocity and above all, the speed of the Russian armored advance. So they retreated. Even from Gori. Which the Russians took unopposed.

However, the Russians did not all have it their own way. They lost by most accounting 3-4 ground attack aircraft and one bomber. That's a serious loss for a nation short of pilots.

The kicker? The nation that sold the anti-Aircraft system was ... the Ukraine. And the systems were Soviet in design.

That's why you see the Russians not really advancing: they can't, no Air cover any more. Why the Georgians can't move and counter-attack: no tanks or artillery. Each side has a temporary stalemate. I'm sure something will break it, it always does. Putin's trying to thug it up, probably allowing some of his low level guys to loot with impunity in lieu of pay. He must be getting short of cash to pay his guys -- oil did not go up like he planned.

robert61 said...

The lack of pictorial evidence is striking and suggestive. As for the graffiti and signs, these are the telltale signs of a foreign war trying to wheedle its way into the American debate. Common since the advent of television and SOP since 1991.

I flew from Boston to Stockholm two days ago and am struck by the difference in coverage: the Swedish press seems much more inclined to note that Georgia attacked first and to see the war from a Russian perspective (e.g. Russia acted from "fear", according to a Svenska Dagbladet editorial yesterday). Kind of a "therapy nation" tone, and contemptible in its own right (why do we have to side with any of the combatants?), but different it is.

Anonymous said...

About that Agence France Press article: I was struck by Saakashvili's insistance on calling Georgia an Eastern European nation. Geographically, culturarally and historically it's in the Middle East. I understand what he was trying to do - he was comparing Georgia's role in this cold war with Czechoslovakia's and Poland's role in the last one. But still, the Caucasus range has been accepted as a dividing line for centuries now. Georgia is located on the southern, Asian side of that range. And surely Europe is considered bad and boring and on its way out among the sort of people that is backing Saakashvili. Third wolrd chic and all that. "Sullen Slavs". Why then does he want to fake his way into Europe? Someone should call him out on his "racism".

neil craig said...

Thr Russians produced a figure of about 1480 for Ossetinas killed. According to this site there were “Three refrigerator trucks full of the remains gathered by Georgian units over the past few days left Tbilisi today,”
Which I would guess would be a something under 200 but there are probably unfound bodies.

When compared with the Finns in the Winter War the Georgian army seems to have had remarkably little stomach for a fight after they found that they were facing somebody who could shoot back.

BBC news on Tuesday broadcast a report about "atrocities" in Gori showing the spot where 8 people had allegedly been shot & explaining that they had been buried in the garden behind, They then showed a single grave though whether it was occupied is unknown.

During the Bosnian war the only reliable troops on "our" side were volunteers flown in from Saudi, Afghanistan & Iran. How they could get through the NATO policed UN embargo is another tale. Indeed the little reported rebellion of the Moslems in the Bihac province against Sarajevo was because the locals objected to thes al Quadea voluteers trying to press gang locals to fight for the freedom of the nationn of Bosnia & Hercegovina. Therir reuluctance & subsequent alliance with the Serbs is "officially" a war crime.

rec1man said...

Most of the casualties were Russian ossetian civilians who were deliberately massacred by the sneak attack of Saakaashvili

Ross said...

Russia and Georgia have announced their military casualties, although how much faith can be put in them is unclear. Russia says that 74 of their troops have been killed and Georgia says that they've had 160 of their's killed and 300 missing.

The civilian casualties are unclear, Russia's initial claim of 1400 killed was an obvious lie to anyone with a remotely analytical mind (ie not most Kremlin apologists) and they are now claiming 144 civilians wee killed, although that is still far higher than HRW's investigation indicates.

Georgian civilian casualites won't be known until Russia leaves.

Anonymous said...

Testing99 says

“That's why you see the Russians not really advancing: they can't, no Air cover any more. Why the Georgians can't move and counter-attack: no tanks or artillery.”

What a ridiculous statement.

The Russians can advance at any time they want. How are the Georgians going to stop the Russians when most of their tanks, artillery and supplies have been abandoned? Even if Georgia had some AA missiles left they don’t stop tanks. And shooting down only four aircraft is a sign of weakness of the Georgian air defense not strength. Also the Georgians did not “retreat” they fled, as shown by the trail of abandoned military equipment they left behind.

Concerned said...


"Georgian forces were not prepared for the ferocity and above all, the speed of the Russian armored advance."

Sounds like the exact opposite of the Israel/Hamas/Leb. war, where the Israelis announced themselves with an air campaign for weeks, but hesitated to put ground forces in. Then when they did, they suffered more casualties than they would have if they had put the boots on the ground in the first place. So they lost.

The air campaign turned out to be needless savagery. I say savagery because it was destruction to no ultimate purpose.

Anonymous said...

Testing99/EvilNeocon said:

"However, the Russians did not all have it their own way. They lost by most accounting 3-4 ground attack aircraft and one bomber. That's a serious loss for a nation short of pilots."

3-4 planes is a serious loss for Russia to effectively wipe out the entire Georgian military? At this point, the Russian military could go and do anything it wants in Georgia if it chooses to.

If this wasn't posted by a disinformation propagandist like testing99, I'd think you it was clearly sarcastic.

Anonymous said...

Re: English graffiti.

I remember in the aftermath of Desert Storm (or was it OIF?!) seeing news items where captured Iraqi equipment - mainly ammo boxes were displayed by allied troops for our edification.

These had something like 'property of Jordanian Army' in English prominently displayed. Odd that, for a couple of reasons. Both are Arab speaking countries - obviously. And most Iraqi equipment was soviet in origin anyway, if it had non-Arabic stencils on it wouldnt they be in Russian?

gcochran said...

"They lost by most accounting 3-4 ground attack aircraft and one bomber. That's a serious loss for a nation short of pilots.
That's why you see the Russians not really advancing: they can't, no Air cover any more. "

The Russian Air Force is, of course, a mere shadow of the old Soviet Air Force - but that shadow
is still the second-largest air force in the world. They still have hundreds of fighters and ground-attack aircraft left. Their pilot training leaves a lot to be desired, due to budget cuts, but they've got a lot more than five pilots.

Unfortunately, the Russians can go anywhere and do anything in Georgia.

Here, testing99 illustrates a common problem: most people posting strong opinions on the Internet don't have the foggiest idea of what they're talking about. In particular, they have no feel for size, no quantitative picture of reality.

Testing99 may sound like an idiot, and he may look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.

Anonymous said...

In another thread someone (testing99 I think) mentioned something about a captured Russian pilot being 50. Ive seen this referenced before - what is the source?

I presume this is meant to illustrate that the Russians are so short of trained pilots.

Anonymous said...

"I presume this is meant to illustrate that the Russians are so short of trained pilots."

It doesn't really tell you anything, but that has never stopped propagandists before. Maybe the guy just likes being a military pilot. It certainly isn't unheard of.

Anonymous said...

"I remember in the aftermath of Desert Storm (or was it OIF?!) seeing news items where captured Iraqi equipment - mainly ammo boxes were displayed by allied troops for our edification.

These had something like 'property of Jordanian Army' in English prominently displayed. Odd that, for a couple of reasons. Both are Arab speaking countries - obviously. And most Iraqi equipment was Soviet in origin anyway, if it had non-Arabic stencils on it wouldnt they be in Russian?"

I think the Jordanian Army gets much of their stuff from the US and England They have English roots for their armed forces, Arab Legion, Capt. Glubb and all that.
I can imagine if Jordan were/was getting shipments from England or the US that the manufacturers may just add the stencil to keep things straight. If you take a look at surplus, much of it often has marks, lettering, dates, serial numbers, etc...on it that nobody bothered to remove or change as it got passed or sold from army to army.
As for stuff found in Iraq, my cousin and his unit(and lots of others) crazy stuff from all over the place, not just Russia, or East Bloc places.
Maybe the stuff was Russian, Czech, Yugoslavian, Romanian, PRC, etc..., but the arms dealers could have been American/English(I'm thinking guys like Diveroli his French, Russian, English, version) or at least like to use it for business purposes. That doesn't help much, does it?

anony-mouse said...

By the way, today is the 40th anniversary of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia which ended the 'Prague spring'.

In the past paleos would have at least mentioned something somwhere about the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia.

But paleos today know how genocidal the Czechs and Slovaks were, and how that evil Dubcek forced that sweet Brezhnev guy into invading. Really, how could you have blamed the Russians since it was Dubcek that started the whole 'Communism with a human face' thing. And I'm sure there was a Jew somewhere there. Of course the hysterical Western media didn't look.

I do have that right?

Anonymous said...

"About that Agence France Press article: I was struck by Saakashvili's insistance on calling Georgia an Eastern European nation."

Georgia is an Eastern European nation geographically. In that area (Georgia, Azerbaijan), the Caspian has long been considered the westernmost reach of Europe, e.g., 100 years ago, the oil boomtown of Baku was considered the eastern edge of Europe. Of course, being on the frontier of Asia and Europe, there are Eastern as well as Western cultural influences in Georgia, but considering that the country is mostly Christian, it would seem to be culturally more European than Mideastern.

"Sounds like the exact opposite of the Israel/Hamas/Leb. war, where the Israelis announced themselves with an air campaign for weeks, but hesitated to put ground forces in. Then when they did, they suffered more casualties than they would have if they had put the boots on the ground in the first place."

The problem wasn't just that they hesitated, but they went in in a half-assed show of force. Apparently, there was a battle plan on the books to deal decisively with Hamas, which called for shooting past their border fortifications (either amphibiously or up the coastal road, I forget which) and methodically clearing them from the rear. Olmert didn't have the stones to order that, but he felt pressured to do more than air strikes, so he launched that half-assed invasion.

- Fred

Anonymous said...

No anony-mous, you dont.


re the 50 year old pilot.

I think we are supposed to believe that they just dont have any younger trained guys. Seems highly unlikely.

It would be most significant if he were a fighter pilot, specifically of an air-superiority fighter as I think they call it. Its generally felt that guys like that should be in their 20s, any older and their reactions are too slow. Of course thats somewhat dependent on training. Would a 50 yr old with maybe 25+ years of flight experience easily lose to young Georgian with say only a years experience. Im not sure he would.

Anyhow, this is not the battle of Britain, gun fighters vs gunfighters, you've got to factor in missiles, ECM etc. Im not sure that the 50 yr old guy is a huge liability.

The above assumes a fighter pilot. What if he was flying an attack aircraft or recon or ECM? Then its not all about man to man combat, lightning responses. Was he a senior officer going along for the ride and caught by a (un)lucky missile or malfunction. In other words was he even shot down - military jets are always crashing in training. Were the tiny Russian loses much higher per hours flown than peacetime?

The fact of his capture in light of this doesnt really tell us anything, the Russians must have hundreds if not thousands of pilots available. This is one person and without knowing more about the circumstances it would be futile to speculate about the supposed weakness of the Russian AF.

During and after the battle of Britain it was noted that the average age of German pilots captured was higher than that of the RAF pilots. This seemed to indicate that the Germans were losing some of their most combat experienced (veterans of Spain, Poland, France) pilots, while the RAF were winning with guys, on average, trained more recently '39-40. With plenty of PoWs to survey you can learn something. With only one you probably cant.

Anonymous said...

Anonv-mouse said

“In the past paleos would have at least mentioned something somwhere about the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia.”

Except that Paleo’s would know that it was the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and that the leader of the Soviets at the time was born in the Ukraine. Only an ignorant Neo, wheither Neo-Con or Neo-Lib would call it the Russian invasion. Just like the Paleo would know that many most violent acts of the Soviets during the 20th century was done when the Soviets were ruled by a Georgian called Stalin

Concerned said...

"The problem wasn't just that they hesitated, but they went in in a half-assed show of force."

What's the difference? Sounds to me like mutually reinforcing idiocy and incompetence.

"Apparently, there was a battle plan on the books "

According to whom? There are plans aplenty in war. The point is: the Israelis didn't use the one that would have gotten them anything.

About Testing99's point, where do we have any reliable numbers anywhere about how many aircraft the Russians lost.


Can you supply a reliable source as to how big the Russian airforce is, how many craft, how many pilots? I have looked on the net and can't find anything reliable.

FWIW, here is an article about the Russian armed forces that I found from the UK Times. It implies that they are good for invading smaller weaker countries but that's about it. I guess that's good enough.

David Davenport said...

Russian Assault Reveals Weaknesses

Aug 20, 2008
By David A. Fulghum

Russian military officials, in writings there that are catching U.S. analysts' attention, are concluding that Russia's offensive into Georgia was morally justified but poorly organized and executed in the opening phases due to surprise.

U.S. government officials and analysts have been poring over open-source literature to gather operational and technological clues to events in the Georgia-Russia conflict. The opinions are coming from current and recently retired senior military commanders, and appear in Russia's Independent Military Review, other defense related publications, as well as in Russian news agency reports.

For instance, Maj. Gen. Marat Kulakhmetov, commander of the Russian peacekeeping forces in South Ossetia, is being fingered as ignoring the massing of Georgian tanks, artillery and troops near Tskhinvali on Aug. 7, according to former Russian Defense Minister Gen. Paul Grachev.

Also deemed inexcusable by the retired general was the lack of an immediate counter-attack against Georgian forces that entered the zone occupied by Russian peacekeeping troops.

Lack of preparation also plagued the Russian air force, according to its former commander-in-chief, Gen. Peter Deinekin, who accused the service of handing the initiative to the Georgian air force. As with Russian artillery units, he excoriated the air force for not immediately launching an air attack to blind Georgia's radar and reconnaissance capability and then shatter command and control.

The resulting confusion in Russia's command and control was pointed to as the reason that Russia's air force took so many losses, including a number of Su-25 Frogfoot close-attack aircraft, possibly an Su-24 and a front-line, high-performance Tu-22M aircraft that may have been either a bombing or reconnaissance variant operated by the Black Sea Fleet.

More precisely, Russian intelligence failed to analyze the numbers, locations and capabilities of the Georgian air defenses, said a former air force commander and chief, Gen. Anatoly Kornukov. As a result, Russian pilots went into combat expecting no resistance. Secondly, there was no campaign to eliminate the Georgian air defense or air force. Finally, there was no reason to use a strategic bomber like the Tu-22, he says.

Radar-killing missiles were not used on the Georgian air defenses, despite their availability, which meant that Russian aircrews could not use their precision stand-off weapons without being in range of Georgia's SA-11 air defenses. Some observers pointed to the unavailability of Russian precision, long-range standoff weaponry.

Other Russian analysts contend the Russians made little or no use of its space-based surveillance, that the initial use of older T-62 tanks and lightly armored personnel carriers caused unnecessary casualties and that the rough terrain and heavy vegetation of Georgia foiled the long-range use of laser-guided weapons.

Singled out for praise by Gen. Mikhail Moiseyev, former chief of the Russian joint staff, was the 58th Army and its chief, Gen. Vladimir Boldyrev. Moiseyev voiced approval of the punitive air and artillery attacks on Georgian military airfields and naval bases and praised the application of lessons learned during Chechnya operations. The seeming heavy handedness of Russian counterattacks - including overwhelming firepower and great expenditure of ammunition - was assessed by Deinekin as necessary to break any resurgent Georgian offensive spirit.

David Davenport said...

Poor old Col. Zinov:

Georgia Strikes Back With Air Defenses

Aug 11, 2008
By David A. Fulghum and Douglas Barrie

If the land war in Georgia so far seems to be going decidedly in favor of the Russian army and navy, the Georgians seem to be racking up a lopsided score with their air defenses.

Over the weekend, the Russians made a successful advance on land through South Ossetia to the outskirts of the Georgian east-west transportation hub of Gori. There also was a one-sided naval battle - that resulted in the sinking of a Georgian gunboat - in the Black Sea off the coast of the second breakaway enclave of Abkhazia. ( Isn't that where Harry Potter's school is located?--DD )

However, Georgian air defenses appear to be taking a steady toll on Russian aircraft. Russia has admitted to losing a total of four aircraft (the Georgians claim 10) in the conflict. So far they've admitted to the destruction of three Su-25 Frogfoot strike aircraft and a Tu-22M3 Backfire bomber that was flying a reconnaissance mission.

Photos from the combat area show the wreck of the Tu-22 and a Frogfoot as well as a picture of the Backfire pilot in a Georgian hospital. The pilot was Col. Igor Zinov, a 50 year-old Tu-22M3 instructor pilot stationed at the Russian Flight Test Center at Akhtubinsk. (See Aviation Week's defense photo gallery for photos.) ( Including Zinov on a gurney. --DD)

"Ergo, the Russians are using their A-Team, as expected," a U.S. analyst says.

Other analysts say the Georgians are probably operating the SA-11 Buk-M1 (low-to-high altitude) and the (low-to-medium altitude) Tor-1M mobile air defense missile systems.


David Davenport said...

Here's some stuff re T-80 tanks. T-90's and T-64's, or some models thereof, where used in the Georgian incident.

I meant to post this in an earlier thread wherein somebody was praising Roosky tanks:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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This article is about the Soviet main battle tank. For other uses, see T80



The T-80 is a main battle tank which was designed in Soviet Union and entered service in 1976. A development of the T-64, it was the first production tank in the world to be equipped with a gas turbine engine for main propulsion (the Stridsvagn 103 used a supplementary gas turbine by 1971). An advanced derivative, the T-84, continues to be produced in Ukraine. The T-80 and its variants are in service in Belarus, Cyprus, Kazakhstan,[2] Pakistan, Russia, South Korea, and Ukraine. The T-80U and T-80UM modifications are currently in production at Omsk, Russia. The chief designer of the T-80 was Russian engineer, Nikolay Popov.[5]


Design details

This T-80BV (a monument in St Petersburg) has reactive armour adapted to its turret and hull. The later T-80U has newer-generation reactive armour integrated into its design.

One of the T-80's advantages is the small size of the tank (projection is about half to three quarters that of the U.S. M1 Abrams, depending on the aspect) and optimal internal volume (about half of the M1's, but a bit roomier for the crew than the T-72).
( In other words, the T-72 and T-80 are cramped and claustrophobic inside, appropriate for a crew of muscular midgets. -- DD ) This gives high armour to volume ratio (one of protection indices). In spite of the fact that T-80 is much lighter than most modern western tanks, such as Abrams or Leopard 2, it has similar level of protection. However, there is no precise data available to make reliable comparison. I.e., the author, who often omits English language definite articles, is just making stuff up and thinking wishfully about comparative levels of protection.-- DD )

Except in newer versions of the tank (like the T-84 Oplot), the ammunition is stored in the most protected area - below the crew inside the crew compartment in the autoloader carousel. This means that if the tank is penetrated, the ammunition can cook off, killing the crew and blowing the turret into the air. In most western tanks, like the M1 Abrams, only part of ammunition is stored inside crew compartment and can cook off too; however, to protect the crew this ammunition is usually stored in a blast proof cabinet with blow out panels above it in case it ever does cook off. Autoloader speed is from 7.1 seconds to 19.5 s depending on the initial position of autoloader carousel.

The carousel itself is actually quite well protected. It is the rounds stored outside of the autoloader, especially those in the fighting compartment, that are mainly responsible for this "trademark" survivability issue, and this problem is made all the more acute by the use of semi-combustible charge casings instead of the traditional brass ones, giving almost no protection from the white-hot metal fragments sprayed inside the vehicle in the event of penetration. A T-80 restricted to carrying ammunition in its carousel greatly reduces this hazard, though it limits the vehicle to 28 rounds of ammunition (a fully laden T-80 can hold 45 rounds), which may be quite inadequate for most combat missions on the high intensity battlefield, but more acceptable in low intensity operations.

Due to the low turret roof, the lowest gun elevation is a few degrees below zero and so it is more difficult to find hull-down positions that the tank can fire from. However with the dozer blade equipped the T-80 can create an exellent fighting position in a short time. The latest prototype, the T-84 Oplot, has an entirely new turret with armoured ammunition compartment.


Service history

[edit] Former USSR
Soviet T-80 MBT during maneuvers, 25 March 1986.
Soviet T-80 MBT during maneuvers, 25 March 1986.
Two T-80UD MBTs on Red Square in Moscow during failed Coup d'├ętat attempt, August 1991.
Two T-80UD MBTs on Red Square in Moscow during failed Coup d'├ętat attempt, August 1991.

First T-80 MBTs started arriving in tank units in late 1970s. The first to receive them was the Group of Soviet Forces stationed in East Germany. T-80 and T-64 MBTs were to be the core of the assault groups of tank units. The fighting capabilities of these vehicles was evaluated during numerous war games and according to them if the war with NATO would start, the T-80 MBTs would reach the La Manche canal within 5-6 days (with the Soviet forces having the upper hand) or 2 weeks (with the NATO forces having the upper hand). Because of this they gained the nickname of "La Manche tanks" in Soviet Army. T-80 MBTs have unintentionally publicly displayed their maneuverability when a battalion equipped with those tanks appeared on a highway leading to Berlin during military exercises. While there they were able to move with speed equal to that of tourist buses and Trabant cars. At the time they were classified as secret weapons. At the beginning of its service it was the the most modern and effective tank in the world. The crews praised its high speed (for a tank) and ability to quickly reach battle readiness thanks to the turbine engine. This engine however had a serious flaw which was the fact that it overheated in high temperatures which is why the tanks weren't sent to the hot southern regions of Soviet Union. Only the appearance of T-80UD with a diesel engine solved this problem. In 1985 there were 1,900 T-80 MBTs overall.[12] According to data publicized in Russia, 2,256 T-80 MBTs were stationed in East Germany between 1986 and 1987. NATO realized that new Soviet tanks could reach Atlantic within two weeks and because of that started to develop counter methods that could stop them. This led to sudden increase in development of anti-tank weapons including attack helicopters. In 1991 when the Soviet Union was breaking up the Soviet Army operated 4,839 different models of T-80.[13]

T-80 MBTs were never used in a way in which they were intended, large scale conventional war in Europe. It was used during political and economical changes in Russia in 1990s. In August 1991 communists and military commanders allied with them tried to overthrow Mikhail Gorbachev and regain control over the unstable Soviet Union. T-80UD tanks of the Russian 4th Guards Kantemirovskaya Tank Division drove onto the streets of Moscow but the Soviet coup attempt failed and quickened the fall of Soviet Union.[14][15]

[edit] Russia
Russian T-80U MBT at the open air museum in Saratov.
Russian T-80U MBT at the open air museum in Saratov.

While a number of T-80 MBTs was inherited by Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, Russia still managed to save the majority of those tanks for itself. In 1993 during Russian constitutional crisis Boris Yeltsin ordered to use T-80 MBTs against Russian parliament which opposed him. On 4 October 1993 six T-80UD MBTs from 12th Guards Tank Regiment which is a part of 4th Kantemirowsk Guards Tank Division took positions on a bridge opposite the Russian parliament building. The building was hit 12 times, 10 by Frag-HE rounds and 2 by undercaliber AP rounds. It remains unknown whether the use of two AP rounds was a mistake made by the loader or if it was planned to use them as they could pierce through a dozen walls in order to further terrify the parliamentarians. This operation also failed because soon the tanks got surrounded by a crowd of bystanders and everything started to look more like a picnic rather than a military operation. In 1995 the number of T-80 tanks increased to around 5,000 but was reduced in 1998 to 3,500. In July 1998 a T-80 tank drove into a square in front of the administration building of city of Nowosmolensk and aimed its gun at the building. The tank was commanded by major Igor Bieljajew from Molinsk garrison, a part of 22nd Army. His motive was unpaid pay for several months. At first the commander of the 22nd Army tried to negotiate with the major. The negotiations failed and it was decided to tow away major's tank using another T-80 tank. This was prevented by the local population which allied itself with the major. As a result all unpaid pay of the 22nd Army was paid.[2] As of right now Russian Army has 3,044 T-80U, T-80UM, T-80UD MBTs in active service and 1,456 T-80U, T-80UM, T-80UD MBTs in reserve.[12][16][13] There are at least 460 T-80UD in service with 2nd Guards Tamanskaya Motor Rifle Division and 4th Guards Kantemirowsk Motor Rifle Division.[17] As of right now a T-80BV tank is on display in Kubinka Tank Museum and a T-80U tank is on display at an open air museum in Saratov.

[edit] Chechen wars

T-80B and T-80BV MBTs were used during the First Chechen War. This first real combat experience for T-80 MBTs was unsuccessful as they were used for capturing cities, a task for which they weren't very well suited. The biggest losses were suffered during the ill-fated assault on the city of Grozny. The reasons for that included the fact that the forces selected to capture Gorzny weren't prepared for such an operation while the city was defended by, among others, veterans of Soviet War in Afghanistan. The T-80 tanks used in this operation either didn't have reactive armour (T-80B) or it wasn't fitted before the start of the operation (T-80BV). The unexperienced crews had no knowledge of the layout of the city while the AFVs that entered it were attacked by shoulder-launched anti-tank rocket propelled grenade launchers operated by the defenders hidden in cellars and on top of high buildings. The fire was directed at the least armoured points of the vehicles. The average of hits that each destroyed tank received ranged from three to six. Each tank was fired at by six or seven RPGs. A number of vehicles exploded when the autoloader with vertically placed rounds was hit, in theory it should be protected by the roadwheel but when the tank got hit on its side armour the ready-to-use ammunition exploded. Out of all AFVs that entered Grozny, 250 were destroyed including about 100 tanks. After that T-80 MBTs were never again used to capture cities and instead supported infantry squads from a safe distance.[17]


[edit] Great Britain

In 1992 Great Britain bought a number of T-80U MBTs for purposes of defense research and development. They weren't bought officially but through a specially created trading company which was supposed to deliver them to Morocco. The price of five million USD offered for each tank ensured the lack of suspicions from the Russians who realized the situation when the Moroccan minister of defense who was at the time in Russia did not confirm the transaction. By this time however the tanks were already in British hands. Britain evaluated the tanks on their proving grounds and transfered one over to the US where the Americans evaluated it on Aberdeen Proving Ground. While evaluating the vehicle, British got to know all weak spots and flaws of the T-80U which helped them in preventing the Russians from successfully selling it to the countries of the Near East and the Middle East. Although the first public appearance of T-80U in Abu Zabi in 1993 stirred some attention, no tanks were sold as a result of it. In January 1994, British Secretary of State for Defence Jonathan Aitken confirmed in parliamentary debates that a Russian T-80U tank was imported for “defence research and development purposes”.[18][19]


Anonymous said...

So the 50 year old guy was a Backfire pilot, not some Tom Cruise top gun type.

Back in the 1960s I presume the capture of James Stockdale by the North Vietnamese may have led them to believe that the US was running out of pilots too.

Stockdale was commanding attack aircraft aged less than 50. This Russian guy was piloting an aircraft that was, nominally at a least, out of harms way.

Does anyone know how old US B-1 (equivalent to Backfire) pilots tend to be. What about U-2 pilots?

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