This excellent report has been professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction. This paper is about the Russian military's use of operational art to achieve its strategic objectives during the Russo-Georgian War of August 2008. In this brief war, the Russian military in a quick and decisive campaign overwhelmed Georgian forces to gain control of two breakaway republics, destroyed much of Georgia's armed forces on land and sea, and caused NATO to reconsider its offer of membership to Georgia. This study focuses on the Russian military's present conception of operational art, the relationship between operational art and strategy, and the ability of the Russian armed forces to apply it in a war, a matter of strategic importance to Russia. To accomplish this, this study examines the roots of Soviet thought and practice on operational art and points out the significant changes over time which have affected current thought and practice. The paper analyzes significant aspects of the campaign in Georgia that reflect not only Russia's rich tradition of operational art, but also reflect Western thinking and new Russian thinking. The study examines the future of Russian operational art based on recently announced military reforms and the implications of those reforms on Russian strategy.
For over a century, Russian and Soviet military thinkers have developed the operational art and have produced quality works on the subject. They have prepared for and practiced operational art in a series of wars under widely varying conditions over the last 80 years. These wars are rich in lessons of success and failure in operational art.1 The campaigns and major operations within these wars reveal both the Russian military's conception of operational art as well as their capacity to craft it to achieve strategic objectives at that time. The Russo-Georgian War of August 2008 is no exception. It reflects the current state of operational art within the armed forces of the Russian Federation. Furthermore, the reforms announced immediately following the war by the president and other senior leaders reflect the nation's and military's intentions to improve their capacity to effectively wage campaigns in the near future and present additional insights into some of Russia's strategic objectives.