Russians raided Israeli airfields in Georgia that were to be used against Iran
UPI's Arnaud De Borchgrave is reporting that one of the reasons that Russia started a war with Georgia last month was as a pretext to raid two airfields that Tbilisi allowed Israel to use as forward bases for an attack against Iran's nuclear facilities.
In a secret agreement between Israel and Georgia, two military airfields in southern Georgia had been earmarked for the use of Israeli fighter-bombers in the event of pre-emptive attacks against Iranian nuclear installations. This would sharply reduce the distance Israeli fighter-bombers would have to fly to hit targets in Iran. And to reach Georgian airstrips, the Israeli air force would fly over Turkey.
The attack ordered by Saakashvili against South Ossetia the night of Aug. 7 provided the Russians the pretext for Moscow to order Special Forces to raid these Israeli facilities where some Israeli drones were reported captured.
At a Moscow news conference, Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, Russia's deputy chief of staff, said the extent of Israeli aid to Georgia included "eight types of military vehicles, explosives, landmines and special explosives for clearing minefields." Estimated numbers of Israeli trainers attached to the Georgian army range from 100 to 1,000. There were also 110 U.S. military personnel on training assignments in Georgia. Last July 2,000 U.S. troops were flown in for "Immediate Response 2008," a joint exercise with Georgian forces.
Details of Israel's involvement were largely ignored by Israeli media lest they be interpreted as another blow to Israel's legendary military prowess, which took a bad hit in the Lebanese war against Hezbollah two years ago. Georgia's top diplomat in Tel Aviv complained about Israel's "lackluster" response to his country's military predicament and called for "diplomatic pressure on Moscow." According to the Jerusalem Post, the Georgian was told "the address for that type of pressure is Washington."
Haaretz reported Georgian Minister Temur Yakobashvili -- who is Jewish, the newspaper said -- told Israeli army radio that "Israel should be proud of its military which trained Georgian soldiers" because he explained rather implausibly, "a small group of our soldiers were able to wipe out an entire Russian military division, thanks to Israeli training."
The Tel Aviv-Tbilisi military axis was agreed at the highest levels with the approval of the Bush administration. The official liaison between the two entities was Reserve Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch who commanded Israeli forces on the Lebanese border in July 2006. He resigned from the army after the Winograd Commission flayed Israel's conduct of its Second Lebanon War. Hirsch was also blamed for the seizure of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah.
Israeli personnel, working for "private" companies with close ties to the Israel Defense Forces, also trained Georgian soldiers in house-to-house fighting.
Read the whole thing. De Borchgrave surprisingly leaves open the possibility that Israel may still be able to use the Georgian facilities for an attack on Iran. But Israel likely has bigger problems resulting from this raid. This is from DEBKA:
Our sources say that if the Russians got hold of an Israeli unmanned aerial vehicle complete with sophisticated electronic reconnaissance equipment, they will have secured some of the IDF’s most secret devices for spying on Iran and Syria.
When this happened before, Russian military engineers quickly dismantled the equipment, studied it and passed the technology on to Tehran and Damascus.
Not good. With all the 'private contractors' Israel has training Georgian troops, one has to wonder whether Israeli personnel were guarding our country's own equipment. And if they were, why did they let this happen? Does anyone wonder anymore why the Americans insist on controlling their own equipment when they bring it here?
On the other hand, DEBKA also claims that flying time from the Georgian bases to Iran's nuclear facilities is three and a half hours. Given that it's only 900 miles from the relevant points in Israel to the relevant points in Iran, if DEBKA is correct, that would not be a whole lot of savings.
By the way, the picture at the top of this post is of Elbit's Hermes 450 drone, which of course is manufactured in Israel.http://israelmatzav.blogspot.com/2008/0 ... ds-in.html