Russian Performance in the Russo-Georgian War Revisited

In August 2008, the Russian military fought Georgian troops in a brief five-day war. Russia defeated the Georgian forces, but the war revealed profound deficiencies in the Russian armed forces. Moscow was surprised by the poor performance of its air power, and more importantly the inability of different services to work together. It truly was the last war of a legacy force, inherited from the Soviet Union. The conflict uncovered glaring gaps in capability, problems with command and control, and poor intelligence. As Russia's then-Chief of the General Staff Nikolai Makarov euphemistically put it, “it is impossible to not notice a certain gap between theory and practice.” In the aftermath, Russia went about the business of reforming and modernizing that military toolkit.

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