This is from the Telegraph.
While the U.S. training and equipment may give the Georgians an advantage, Georgia is still a pygmy facing a Goliath. Georgia no doubt hoped that taking back the capital of South Ossetia would strengthen its hand in any peace talks. However the result has been not only considerable losses to the Ossetians but also bombing of Georgian military bases inside Georgia proper and also it seems other destruction. The rockets coming from mobile vehicles are not accurate at all.
Now apparently the Russians have a firm hold on South Ossetia and the Georgians have withdrawn. They have nothing for their efforts except perhaps to exacerbate already tense relations between the U.S. and Russia. Russia is not likely to give much in the peace talks. It will insist that Goergia leave South Ossetia and Abkazia alone.
Georgia: US training gives Georgia military advantage
The problem the Russians face in South Ossetia is that their peacekeepers have had to make the transition overnight to what is, in effect, a war-fighting force.
By Allan Mallinson, Defence Historian Last Updated: 12:11AM BST 10 Aug 2008
The Russians lack of enough force to deploy decisively from the outset has forced them to over-rely on artillery especially the multi-barrelled rocket launcher Photo: REUTERS
While they are not operating like Scandinavian peace forces in light blue berets, the transition will not have been smooth.
Ironically, as former peacekeepers, they may be inflicting far more civilian casualties than would a force that had been training and planning for combat operations.
Not least, this is because they did not have enough force to deploy overwhelmingly and therefore decisively from the outset – which might have overawed the Georgians without a shot.
This has forced them to over-rely on artillery, one of the least discriminating weapons systems, especially the multi-barrelled rocket launcher.
Nor has the speed with which the fighting developed helped the civilian population either to evacuate the combat zones, or take effective cover.
The Russians will no doubt justify their use of air power beyond Ossetia as defensive action in depth and draw comparisons with the United Nations' use of ground-attack aircraft in Bosnia during the peacekeeping mandate; but it will also be in some measure an attempt to overwhelm the Georgians psychologically, and with the only means to hand.
The reinforcements being sent by Moscow will be special forces – more subtle, more highly trained than the troops already on the ground. However sinister their deployment sounds, they should be welcomed for their professionalism. Despite the money pumped into the army by Vladimir Putin, the quality of its regular officers is a problem. Despite South Ossetia's semi-autonomous status, the Georgian army is operating on essentially interior lines of communication, while the Russians are deployed at the end of a very long line indeed. On paper, Georgian forces number some 18,000, but there are probably fewer than 12,000 effective combat troops, which is why the contingent in Iraq is being recalled.
The Georgians, though outnumbered, in the shorter term have several advantages. They are not badly equipped. The former Soviet T72, for example, their main battle tank, is a reasonable match for the Russians' T90. The army has been American-trained, and increasingly American-equipped, for the past 10 years, and strongly focused on Nato admission: there will be some capable commanders and staff officers, therefore.
It is a strange irony to note that their troops have seen action, against Chechen rebels, but fighting alongside the Russians.