THE 2008 SOUTH OSSETIA WAR
The study of military history is very important to us as professional military officers. It serves as a guide for humanity, and shapes present actions as the basis for future projections. Military history constitutes a veritable arsenal of military knowledge which when studied, could give the military officer a firm basis for planning future campaigns. In his book entitled “What’s the Matter with being a Strategist?” Galvin John of the United States Air War College stated: “War is an instrument of policy; a study of the successes and failures of past wars is necessary to learn and apply lessons to current policies, national and military strategies”. The celebrated British military theorist and historian, Sir Basil Liddell Hart put it clearly when he said “military history provides us with the opportunity to profit from the stumbles and tumbles of our forerunners”. In effect, we have the mistakes of others to learn from.
Today’s presentation will focus on the 2008 South Ossetia War. This was a 2-week armed conflict between Georgia on one side, and Russia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia on the other. Though the conflict was initially between Georgia and South Ossetia, Russia got involved and shaped the final results. The conflict began on 7 August 2008, after Georgia claimed South Ossetian separatists had broken a ceasefire by attacking villages, which South Ossetian officials denied. Georgia launched a military offensive to capture the capital of South Ossetia, TSKHINVALI. Russian military troops entered the war on the side of South Ossetian and Abkhazian separatists and won the war.
The purpose of this presentation therefore is to acquaint you with the South Ossetia War in order to draw some lessons to better prepare us for future battles or campaigns.
The aim of this presentation is to examine the 2008 South Ossetia War with the view to drawing lessons for future operations.
To achieve the aim, the following would be covered:
Background to the South Ossetia War.
Causes of the South Ossetia War
Political Dimension of the War.
Conduct of the War.
Identification of End State and Effects of the War.
BACKGROUND TO THE WAR
South Ossetia is a South Western Asian Country. It covers an area of about 3,900 km2. It is bordered to the North by Russia and to the East, South and West by Georgia. Before the break-up of the Soviet Union, South Ossetia operated as the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast within the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. A military conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia broke out in January 1991 when Georgia sent troops to subdue a South Ossetian separatist movement. The separatists were helped by former Soviet military units, who by then had come under Russian command. The war resulted in South Ossetia, which had a Georgian ethnic minority of around 29% of the total population breaking away from Georgia and gaining de facto independence. After the Sochi agreement in 1992, Tskhinvali was isolated from the Georgian territory and Russian, Georgian and South Ossetian peacekeepers were stationed in South Ossetia under the Joint Control Commission's (JCC) mandate of demilitarisation. The 1992 ceasefire also defined both a zone of conflict around the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali and a security corridor along the border of South Ossetian territories. This situation was mirrored in Abkhazia, an Autonomous Republic within Georgia in the USSR, where the Abkhazian minority seceded from Georgia in a war in the early 1990's. Similar to South Ossetia, most of Abkhazia was controlled by an unrecognised government, while Georgia controlled other parts. 9.
The situation in the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict zone rapidly deteriorated after Tskhinvali and a number of other residential districts and villages in South Ossetia were...
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