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19 August 2008
Georgian troops were not ready for battle, say Americans
The Americans who were training the Georgian army are starting to admit that the army was nowhere near combat ready when it was sent off on its doomed invasion of South Ossetia. Only the 1st Infantry Brigade had been trained up to western standards and that was the one that was helping to occupy Iraq. The other four infantry brigades, each numbering about 2,000 men each, were in various stages of training when they were ordered to go off and attack South Ossetia.

Their communications quickly collapsed, and the troops dumped their American supplied rifles, preferring instead the trusty old AK-47. That is perhaps understandable when you consider just how many of the Georgian soldiers are actually illiterates who have to mark their names with an "X" when collecting their pay. If you have a peasant army, as both the Russians, South Ossetians and Georgians obviously have, then it makes more sense to give them peasant -proof weapons that they can use, as well as teaching them the tactics that a peasant army can assimilate.

Consider for a moment the fact that the South Ossetian militia managed to prevent the Georgians from taking Tskhinvali until the Russians arrived; and those militiamen are a far more ragged and ill-disciplined bunch than even the Georgian regulars. So it isn't that peasants won't fight, it is that they have to be trained and equipped to fight in their own way. Simple weapons, coupled with even simpler tactics. This works for the Afghans and Iraqis and it worked for the South Ossetians.

Even had Georgia finished training her troops it is unlikely that she would have won her war. A western trained and equipped army sitting on top of what is basically a third world country is always going to be an elite force. Once it has been ground down in combat then replacements cannot be produced at the drop of a hat. Unlike their militia enemy who can train men for combat in days.

Given this background, it now seems even more incredible that the Georgians sent this force into battle in the first place. What on earth were they thinking about?

The answer seems to be the one that this blog put forward right at the start of the war. An economic crisis and rising opposition to the government forced desperate men to look around for an escape. They were given a nod and a wink by the Americans and told to try their luck.

At the time of writing there is no other explanation that makes any sense at all.

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