Interesting goings-on in the Georgia National Guard

We’re not big on bashing the National Guard*.  Many, many Guardsmen have stepped up and served overseas during the War on Terror – assuming the same risks as their active duty counterparts, and also having to deal with employers or self employment issues that us active types never had to worry about.

In Georgia, the governor just appointed a new State Adjutant. State Senator and former Air Force officer Jim Butterworth has jumped from Captain to Major General. It is something of a controversial move. We have no idea as to MG Butterworth’s qualifications or character. But suffice it to say, it is unusual.

But the appointment of state adjutants is one of the prerogatives of a state governor. Last year, we saw a chaplain nominated in another state.  And it should be noted that while each state adjutant is a Major General in the Guard, it is not an operational command, but more concerned with administration and policy.

Having said that, since the federal government is footing the bill for most of the operations and equipment, perhaps it is time for Congress to revisit the issue of qualifications for state adjutants.

*We’re not big on bashing the National Guard anymore. Like all active duty troops, I was required by tradition to refer to them as “the Nasty Guard” and sneer at them playing soldier.

Graveyard of Peaches: How Tennessee Will Win Its War Against Georgia | Danger Room | Wired.com

The War Between the States ended almost 150 years ago, but the Georgia state senate is making threatening noises against its neighbor. It should think twice. Occupying Iraq and Afghanistan is a cakewalk compared to the hellscape that southeast Tennessee poses for an invading army.

Last week, the Georgia state senate voted to sue the state of Tennessee in order to claim a sliver of land that would grant Georgia access to the Tennessee River. Georgia, readers must understand, has mismanaged its own water resources to the point where it now struggles to supply enough water for the residents of Atlanta (and its sprawling suburbs and exurbs) to fill their above-ground pools and wash the TruckNutz on their mini-vans. Dangerously, the state is actually seeking to redraw a border that has kept the peace for over 200 years, and all over a crucial resource — a resource belonging, rightfully, to the Tennessee of my ancestors.

I have nothing against (most parts of) Georgia. Growing up, though, my mother would drive my sister and me south on I-75, ostensibly to watch a Braves game or visit our cousins, but really to show us the horrors of life beyond the green mountains and valleys of our native southeast Tennessee, where much of my family remains. Other parts of Georgia are lovely: I had the good fortune to be stationed in Savannah for several years while serving in the U.S. Army. But the greater Atlanta area is a horrible twisted mess of concrete overpasses and far-flung skyscrapers. Once south of Cartersville, it’s easy to understand why William Tecumseh Sherman thought it wisest to just burn the whole place down and start over.

via Graveyard of Peaches: How Tennessee Will Win Its War Against Georgia | Danger Room | Wired.com.

Andrew might just have had his tongue just a bit in cheek here. After all, it was published on April Fools Day.

On the other hand, it is a pretty apt metaphor for the responses our enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan have used. And having had a couple of Tennesseans working for me, yes, they are a fractious bunch.

This strikes me as an utterly stupid idea.

From The Stars and Stripes, via Military.com:

Under a law recently pushed through the state legislature, post-traumatic stress disorder would be noted on the license in the same way that a person’s license might indicate corrective lenses are required for vision, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Adding the information would be voluntary and require a sworn statement from a doctor. If signed by the governor, the bill would become law on July 1.

Why do I suspect this is really the first step towards the mandatory disclosure of a PTSD diagnosis, and a further stigmatization of our troops. It doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to see a “logical progression” where citizens who have been diagnosed with PTSD would be prohibited from buying or possessing firearms.

I’m in favor of prohibiting the mentally unsound from possessing firearms. That’s a restriction of civil rights that falls well within the bounds of constitutionality. But the current standard that has to be met is that a court has to make a finding. That’s the whole “due process” thingy at work.

If, as I suspect, this is a ploy to sneak in a restrictive provision over time, it would remove that due process protection for citizens and place the power to infringe constitutional rights into the hands of unaccountable bureaucrats, with likely little recourse to the citizen.

It also shows a remarkable misunderstanding of what most people with PTSD really go through. I’m no expert, but the best description I’ve heard is that you spend a lot of time hyper-aware of your surroundings, as if your nerve endings had been sanded.

Any of you in Georgia might take a moment to encourage your governor to veto this bill, and not start down a path with no good outcomes.

Is the Russian-Georgian conflict heating up again?

Sure looks that way. Go over to Information Dissemination and read this post. Here’s a taste:

The low capacity narrow roads leading from Russia into Georgia (one into Abkhazia and another leading into South Ossetia) create immense logistical problems in rapidly deploying large military contingents into Georgia if Moscow opts for a “humanitarian intervention” to bring about “regime change.” The insertion of a sizable marine force with heavy weapons was used last August to bypass the clogged up overland routes and this could prove important again. The Russian military knew beforehand the exact timing of its pre-arranged invasion and fully controlled the pre-war armed provocations by the South Ossetian forces, whereas in the present crisis the situation is much more volatile.

Georgia on my mind

It’s been a while since we looked at the situation in Georgia. Now’s a good time for a review. EU Observer has an update for us that we found courtesy of the Instapundit.

Things are better for Georgia than I would have expected. Truth be told, I was somewhat surprised that Russia didn’t press their advantage and overrun the capital. I would have. They had already forfeited any international goodwill, but there would be no real response from the West in terms of shooting. But for whatever reasons, the Russians held off from invading all of Georgia proper, and while they hoped to topple the government, decided to let that slide.

Now, the EU is doing a surprisingly good job of pushing the Russians back. Since Russia has recognized the independence of South Ossettia and Abkahzia they will balk at leaving them. We’ll see how that goes. I’m just surprised they haven’t kept outposts in Georgia proper.

UPDATE: I tend to agree with MikeD’s analysis below in the comments:

My personal belief is that they stopped at the bridges to Tbilisi because they would have taken much heavier casualties than they were prepared to. Sure they WOULD have taken the city, but they would have paid heavily for it in blood, and Putin would not have wanted the loss of face involved in that. Kicking over an anthill should not cost you a foot. Yeah, you won, but you look stupid now.

Furthermore, holding Tbilisi is great… but the government would have just moved into the southern mountains, and suddenly the Russians are fighting Afghanistan all over again. Plus, at that point, there’s no “peacekeeping” pretense anymore, you’re a conquerer.

Once we had US troops on the ground with “humanitarian aid”, Putin was sunk. He COULD have pushed on at that point, but if he hurt one hair on the chinny-chin-chin of one of our airmen, that’s pretty much an act of war. And contrary to what a lot of folks were saying, Putin’s not really crazy. Evil? Sure. But not crazy.

But the point here is the strategic importance of time. If the Russians had pressed as far and as fast as possible with the intention of deposing the government, I think they could have taken Tiblisi before the Georgian government could evacuate and set up a guerrilla war in the south. But while the Russians were prepped to go into Ossettia and Abkazia, they had no real operational plan past that. It is kind of nice to see that the US isn’t the only ones who have trouble planning past the first push…

Georgia and the Roki Tunnel

I’m seeing a lot of folks asking why the US doesn’t use Stealth bombers or cruise missiles to take out the Roki Tunnel. Simple answer? Too late. That ship has sailed.

The Roki tunnel goes from North Ossettia to South Ossettia and is the only real road connection between them. The thinking goes that if the tunnel were closed, the Russian forces would be cut off from supply and reinforcement.

Indeed, it looks like the Georgians plan was to sieze the tunnel and prevent the Russians from using it. If they had, things might have gone differently. But the Russians were more than prepared for the Georgians. They secured the tunnel before the Georgians could get there. Taking out the tunnel with airpower is virtually impossible without precision guided munitions and thus beyond Georgia’s capability.

So why wouldn’t it make sense to do so now? Because the Russians aren’t foolish enough to stick their necks in the noose. A quick glance at the map below will shed some light.

The map is a few days old and the positions of the forces has changed a little. But notice the large part of western Georgia occupied by the Russians. Also notice that Gori is occupied by Russia, despite their assurances that they are pulling out. The main East-West road in Georgia runs through Gori. And it ends up in Poti which is also under Russian control. Alternatively, there are good roads leading to Abkazia and Russia itself in the northwest. While the map shows Georgian units between Poti and Gori, these are not very significant and the terrain is not very suitable for the defense.

In effect, the Russians have secured a second supply line, running from the Black Sea to the heart of Georgia. That’s why the Russians invaded on the Black Sea coast. Any attempt now to destroy the Roki tunnel would be fruitless.

Georgian Update for Friday

I was trying to get a post together on this, but Kat over at The Castle has done a better job than I was going to do, so just go read her.

The Russians are advancing on Tiblisi while claiming to be observing a cease fire. It appears the Georgians are refusing combat under terms not favorable to them. The Russians are advancing, claiming that they are securing military depots for safety’s sake. Currently, there are reports that they are only a few miles from Tiblisi. While the Georgian army is in no shape to stop this, these gains will be hard to pry from the Russians at the negotiation table. Or the Russians may just decide to advance and seize Tiblisi.

Journalism and War

The profusion of journalists on the battlefield makes it easier to get information in real time about conflicts today. But that comes at a price. We have heard many complaints that US forces target journalists in Iraq. So how come they never have videotape?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eyQ5Maqf80]

h/t Ace

Whether that was a sniper or just a stray round, I don’t know. I suspect stray round, but your guess is as good as mine.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7utdAm_j0U]

h/t Hot Air

The video refers to a Russian soldier, but I’m thinking this was an Ossettian “militiaman”, based on the beard. Still, it was right in front of a convoy of Russian vehicles. Seems maybe the Russians aren’t as committed to the rights of noncombatants as some would like. Will Code Pink be picketing them?

Diplomatic Blowback for Russia?

I find it interesting that mere days after the Russians began their attack on Georgia, a treaty between Poland and the US that had been stalled is suddenly signed.  This treaty actually goes farther than what had been discussed before. Where earlier versions of the treaty were about installing a missile shield in Poland, this one includes mutual defense provisions beyond that of NATO membership.

Between this treaty, Secretary Rice travelling to Tiblisi, and the leaders of the Baltic states travelling there as well, and the humanitarian assistance arriving, the Russians risk widening a conflict they saw as limited and easy to win. Georgia may well end up surviving this, albeit in a terrible strategic position with Russia in the disputed regions.