Territorial Defense Reserves
26 April, 2012

Georgian Government is preparing another concept for the deployment of reserve armed forces. We use the word “another” because after the Rose Revolution this is the fourth try to create the effective reserve system. Till today, the country could not attain it even with 30-40 million Lari (or probably more) “sacrificied” for it. Examination of the draft reserve system for the country defense is currently under way and possibly will be launched soon after final adjustments.

According to the authors, this document took a due note of the lessons learnt from the 2008 Georgian-Russian war, as well as national military strategy, strategic defense review, assessment of threat and of course, national security concept. The novelty in the new concept of the reserve Georgian defense system is the introduction of the territorial defense reserve category. The reserve defense system consists of two components: reserves for land forces and territorial defense respectively.
As before, the main task of the land force reserves is to back up the armed forces during armed operations and even their total replacement, i.e. get involved in the military operations as accomplished military units, and finally to assist bodies of local governance during emergencies. The land force reserves are formed on the basis of the obligatory conscription. However, volunteers too can join them.
As regards the territorial defense reserves, they are to take care of the civil defense and backfront support. Even so, they may be called to the frontline to enforce land force reserves. They should also be ready to give hand to local authorities if need be. Most importantly, the territorial defense reserves, which are to be formed only on a voluntary basis, will be entrusted with the autonomous defense of the specific zone of their area of resistance.
In other words, if we had prepared such territorial defense reserves before the August 2008 war, the Didi Liakhvi River gorge would have been fortified by Tamarasehi and Kekhvi villagers, while Kodori River gorge would have reliably blocked by Chkhalta and Azhara villagers. They all would have defended their land of ancesstors to the last drop of blood. Before the August war, defense of these gorges was the duty of mixed police-military units, while locals who would not allow agressors take over the gorges for the last fifteen years were left out of the process.
As the tragic events showed, it was an extremely big mistake on the part of the central Administration. While it spent millions of Lari on fortification of both gorges (espcecially the Kodori gorge) and amassing huge stocks of amunition there, the official armed forces abandoned them without shooting a single bullet. Even more, a portion of the mixed police-military units who were responsible for the defense of the Kodori gorge threw away their weapons - automatric rifles – and left. Residents of the Didi Liakhvi gorge – who are IDPs now – still recall with frustration that the police unit stationed in the gorge departed without any prior notice to the locals that the gorge was going to become defenseless.
Creation of the reserves based on the territorial defense principle is a proper solution owing to one more reason: locals know surroundings of their villages much better than Tbilisi residents do. They have spent their childhood there. For another thing, people tend to fight for their homes more fiercely.
Yet, fierceness makes sense if paraleled by proper organization and armament. Otherwise, many citizens of our country would be  killed without any justification. That’s why it would have been ineffective to send Eredvi, Kekhvi or Azhara residents into forests during the August war and have them launch guerilla war.
Effective guerilla operations require setting up of relevant structural and logistic bases on the enemy territory in advance and permanent support of  guerilla groups from the center. Without such preparations, Soviet partisants would not be able to put up resistanse fights in Ukraine and Belarus against the agressors during the Second World War. Similarly, today’s Taliban could not survive in Afghanistan without the strong backup.
Certainly, territorial defense reserves would not be  a close match to regular troops of an enemy. However, it  could serve as a major springboard for operating effective guerilla operations on the occupied territories.
Management of the reserve system deserves a separate attention. According to the new concept, military traning and management of the land force reserves would be the role of land force HQ. The Department of the National Guards would be asked to train and manage territorial defense reserves.
All these need fundamental funding because a prerequisites of success are decent infrastructure and logistics. Nevertheless, this process should be kept under permanent control to ensure effectiveness of costs incurred. It could have been better if these sums were spent on the country’s economy. However, the reality is that no country in its sound sense would neglect the military reserve.