Following the Russian invasion of South Ossetia, US military officials headed over to Georgia to do a thorough review of the Georgian military. The report, leaked to the NY Times, paints a rather unflattering picture of the military in Georgia.
Georgia’s armed forces, the report said, are highly centralized, prone to impulsive rather than deliberative decision making, undermined by unclear lines of command and led by senior officials who were selected for personal relationships rather than professional qualifications.
Moreover, according to the report, Georgia’s military lacks basic elements of a modern military bureaucracy, ranging from a sound national security doctrine to clear policies for handling classified material to a personnel-management system to guide soldiers through their careers and prepare them for their jobs.
Expect to hear more of this as Obama deals with Russia in the early days of his administration.
But what gets really funny is how the Europeans want to substitute for this ‘non-needed’ special forces–they want to send great big hulking AWACs aircraft. Planes designed to steer combat aircraft into Russian fighters and other hostile air forces are going to be sent to Afghanistan to defend against…the Tabliban Air Force? Ummm…does that make sense?
But wait, it gets better. France say no, there is no Taliban Air Force–don’t send German AWACS, because… we want to send our French AWACs to Afghanistan instead.
Yea, this will help….
As a gesture of goodwill, Steinmeier said he would consider replacing the KSK soldiers with NATO AWACS reconnaissance planes for Afghanistan that are based in Germany and have largely German crews.
NATO’s decision on whether to deploy the planes has been delayed because of a bizarre attempt to block the move by the French. First, Paris claimed the mission would be too expensive. Then they said it made no sense because the Taliban has no air force that the flying radar facilities could be used against. At the same time, however, Paris offered to deploy its own AWACS aircraft.
Der Spiegel is noticing a change in Germany’s relationship with Georgia in light of the Russian invasion last month. Never a warm ally of Georgia and not a fan of NATO membership, it now seems the Russian’s have overplayed their hand such that Angela Merkel is now being forced closer to Georgia whereas she was once Russia’s best contact in Europe
The Russians had won the short war and were now rolling their tanks through the Georgian heartland. Merkel watched the TV with dismay as Russians looted and did everything they could to destabilize the country.
Her attitude changed. It was no longer dominated by annoyance over Saakashvili. Now she was enraged at the highhandedness of the Russians. It seemed to her that they wanted to oust the Georgian president from office. Merkel is extremely sensitive to the issue of regime change. She knows how long and difficult it was to bring democracy to Eastern Europe. Merkel sees Saakashvili, for all his faults, as a democratically elected, legitimate president. Georgia became for the chancellor a country that has to be helped.
Nevertheless, she remained skeptical when she flew to Tbilisi. She spoke with Saakashvili, and something must have happened during their two-hour meeting because, afterwards, Merkel gave a press conference that made headlines around the world.
Just another example of former Eastern Europeans (Merkel is from East Germany) being a bit more worried about the Russian’s actions than some in the West.
The recent crisis in Georgia has revealed the impotence of ‘Old Europe’ and NATO. Is it time for something new to meet the needs of New Europe?
Deja vu all over again?
While Russian tanks were crossing through the tunnels and passes (memo to Georgia: everyone knows you blow up the tunnels and bridges first), the leaders of Western Europe were basically caught with nothing to do. ”They haven’t shot at me” was basically the point that was on the mind of every Western European leader, followed quickly by “I don’t want to go nuclear over Georgia”. These two factors (not, in any way, who was right or who was wrong) were what kept most European leaders sitting on their hands as they watched Georgia get chewed to pieces.
When we used to study Soviet Military Power and Doctorine it was always assumed that the first time a Soviet tank went on the offensive it would be shooting at a NATO tank, and thus the decision to start fighting back would be off the table. Some 18-year-old kid in the turret of a tank somewhere in Germany was going to decide NATO’s response to a Soviet conventional attack. But in this new world, that ease of red force/blue force decision making is gone, and we’re stuck in the grey area.
You can find some contrast in the response of Europe if you take a look at the leaders of ‘New Europe. Composed of former Soviet states they were not afraid in the least to mess with the Bear, for they knew what awaited them should their countries fall back into the ’sphere of influence’. Ukraine has told the Black Sea fleet they can expect problems when they return, and leaders of many former Soviet republics flew into Georgia in the middle of the fight to provide counsel and assistance. Some in the Eastern European media are even asking if Old Europe really understands what is going on:
“Old Europe,” once again, failed to listen to the warnings of those with first-hand knowledge of Russian treachery. “Old Europe isn’t listening to Poles, Lithuanians and Ukrainians. Old Europe doesn’t want to anger Russia, and doesn’t see the integrity of Georgia’s borders as something worth risking its relationship with Moscow over,” the left-leaning daily Gazeta Wyborcza wrote. “Once again, we can only try to tell them that we’re not letting our feelings be guided by Russophobia but merely speaking from long years of personal experience.”
Unfortunately New Europe is pretty weak and the US is pretty busy elsewhere in the world. So it has me wondering if now is the time for a new, mini-version of NATO. Composed of the Eastern European states (and armed and supported by Old Europe). A NATO that does not have nukes and is not a nuclear threat to Russia, but one that is well equipped, trained, and ready to take on the Bear should it come poking around it’s old stomping grounds. A force like this might be the one needed to stop an aggressive and growing threat.
One by one, the old Soviet empire could be rebuilt by a resurgent Russia and a placid NATO. Georgia, Ukraine, Lativa, Estonia, etc. They could fall without most Americans even noticing to be quite honest. But if they fought together, they might actually have a chance. Perhaps it is time for New Europe to look for a new alliance to help them in the new reality they now face.
Nope, it’s not a 1962 headline, but one you might read shortly.
Leaks are dripping out of a Kremlin-friendly news organizations in Europe that are suggesting Russia may soon stage nuclear-capable bombers in Cuba, so reports the Washington Post.
Some Russian experts dismissed the possibility of a new Cuban crisis. “It’s very silly psychological warfare,” said Alexander Golts, an independent military analyst, in a telephone interview. “Putin and Medvedev are very militant in words but very cautious in practical issues. They have not taken any step that can be seen as a real threat to the West, and I cannot see any reason to raise this threat against the U.S.”
But “if it’s true, it looks like a repetition of the Caribbean crisis” he said, using the common Russian term for the Cuban missile crisis.
Maybe the Russians are just doing this to make Obama look more like JFK.
You may remember this guy from the war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. Governments have been ‘looking for him’ (more or less, kind of) since the wars ended and the atrocities were discovered, but despite his unique hair do, it seems no one has ever been able to find him.
Supporters of him will quickly point to ‘other atrocities’ that were committed by the other side, but his arrest might soon help put an end to an ugly chapter in European history.