Georgian minister shares insights of conflict with CGSC students
First Deputy Prime Minister of Defense of Georgia Vladimer Chachibaia speaks to Intermediate Level Education students at the Command and General Staff College May 14. Chachibaia graduated from CGSC in 2003 and is also a graduate of the U.S. Army War College.

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (May 21, 2009) - One recent international graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College is putting his military knowledge to immediate use.

First Deputy Prime Minister of Defense of Georgia Vladimer Chachibaia talked to Intermediate Level Education students May 14. Chachibaia provided students his personal insights into the August 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia.

Chachibaia graduated from CGSC in 2003. According to "Civil Georgia," a daily news service run by the UN Association of Georgia, a nongovernmental organization, Chachibaia also attended the Infantry Officer Basic Course in Fort Benning, Ga., in 1999 and the U.S. Army War College in 2007-2008. In 2004, Chachibaia served as commander of the Georgian contingency in Iraq.

While the rest of the world was watching the beginning of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, Russia and Georgia became engaged in a struggle in the regions of Ossetia and Abkhazia.
The regions had been in contention since the fall of the Soviet Union and subsequent 1992-93 conflict with Georgia.

"Before the August war, Russia did everything to prolong this conflict (between Georgia and separatists)" Chachibaia said. "Our government made the mistake of bringing Russian peacekeepers in the territory and the Russian peacekeepers gradually maintained these high-risk zones - supporting separatists, their criminal actions and movements."

He said the August struggle began when Russians sent 150 armored vehicles and military personnel and began shelling villages.

"Our government was forced to deploy our armored units to somehow relieve our citizens' conditions," he said.

Chachibaia said Georgia's force ratio of 15,000 troops, 70 armored vehicles and 110 artillery faced Russia's 22,000 troops, 680 armored vehicles and 190 artillery. While Georgia was outplanned by psychological operations and electronic warfare, Chachibaia said there were positives.

"Georgian soldiers had high morale, but were confused by poor direction and inadequately trained leaders," he said.

Georgia failed, Chachibaia said, in planning and command and control. When he tried to implement the lessons he learned at CGSC about communicating, for example, he learned their radios were out.

Intelligence gathering was also a problem, Chachibaia said.

"Our militarists, they conduct operations, they were belying what they were doing," he said. "They had no information about terrain, they had no information about the city where they were going. There was no information about the enemy - what strategy' What was the most probable and most dangerous course of action'"

Chachibaia said Georgian forces underestimated the importance of military education and personnel planning systems. He described one incident in which a commander was arbitrarily assigned to a unit by a single supervisor's snap decision.

CGSC students asked Chachibaia about his experience in Iraq and Georgia's future in international conflicts.

Chachibaia said Georgia would continue its promotion of democracy in the region, but did not specify Georgia's future with NATO. He also said Georgia is in discussion over its role in Afghanistan - one option would be to send a battalion sized unit under the United States.

Chaplain (Maj.) Steve Cantrell and Air Force Maj. Bryce Silver, ILE students, said they appreciated hearing from a speaker utilizing military decision making processes.

"It fits in very well with what we're studying here and lessons learned," Cantrell said. "The speaker was very frank; I appreciate his professional honesty."

Page last updated Thu May 21st, 2009 at 12:06