GEORGIA CONFLICT 2008
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In anticipation of the Russian withdrawal that Russian President Medvedev assured the world on August 19th would take place by Friday, August 22nd, and having received permission from the Turkish government to transit the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles Straits, the United States announced that it would have three of its military vessels in the Black Sea off the coast of Georgia to perform humanitairan support for the people of Georgia in the next few days. The guided missile destroyer, USS McFaul, the Command and Control Ship, and flagship of the US 6th fleet, the USS Mount Whitney, and the US Coast Guard, high endurance cutter, USCGC Dallas, will all be in place in that time frame.
The USS McFaul is a front line, major US Navy combatant. An AEGIS Destroyer, she is very good at anti-sub work, anti-surface work, and outstanding at anti-air defense. She's been loaded with humanitarian supplies, and will be the first ship to arrive, probably Friday, th 22nd, or Saturday, the 23rd. Although she is there to help with humanitarian needs, there can be no mistake that she is also a sign of US resolve to assist Georgia.
USS McFaul DDG 74
The USS Mt. Whitney, is a large Command and Control ship, with room for tons of humanitarian supplies of all types and the capability to make over 100,000 gallons of fresh water a day, should arrive early next week, the week of August 17th..
As a Command Control, Communications, Computer, and Intelligence (C4I) vessel, and as the flag ship of the US 6th fleet, she is a very critical asset to the US Navy. Considered by some to be the most sophisticated C41 ship ever commissioned, Mount Whitney incorporates various elements of the most advanced C4I equipment on earth and gives the embarked Joint Task Force Commander the capability to effectively command all units in the Joint Task Force. Her presence will provide tremendous humanitarian relief, but will also allow the US to monitor communications in the area and gather lots of intelligence.
USS Mount Whitney
> The USCGC Dallas (WHEC-716) is a Hamilton class, high endurace cutter of the US Coast guard. All twelve of these vessels, including the Dallas, are outstanding at marittime interdiction, port security, and Search and Rescue missions. She had been in Greece on a port call when called to this duty and should allow over the weekend off of Georgia, following the USS McFaul.
Along with Canadian and Polish vessels which are also in transit to Georgia, this task force will be well equipped to provide tremendous Humanitarian support to the people of Georgia, but will also be very capable of defending itself if it ever became necessary.
After conflicting reports throughpout the day on the 21st and early on the 22nd, finally, at the end of the day on the 22nd, the first real signs of a general Russian pullback began to be seen.
According to AP and other reporters and their photographers throughout the country, Russian forces began pulling out of positions deep inside Georgia late on Friday.
The movements finally came fulfilling Russian President Medvedev's promise to do so by Friday, withdrawing to separatist regions and surrounding security zones by the day's end. Although it appeared late in the day that the pullback had begun in ernest, it was clear that it would not be completed by the end of day Friday.
One armored column was seen moving away from a military base in western Georgia toward the border with the breakaway region of Abkhazia in the late afternoon. Further east, more Russian forces abandoned the prominent and much reported on checkpoint and roadside positions at the village of Igoeti, just 30 miles from the Tbilisi. This had been the closest Russian advance on the capital.
Georgia's security council chief, Alexander Lomaia, said Russian forces also were leaving the strategic central city of Gori, which straddles the country's main east-west highway south of South Ossetia, the separatist region at the heart of this month's war between Russia and Georgia.
In the west, another column of 83 Russia tanks, APCs and trucks hauling artillery moved away from the Georgian Senaki military base and toward the border with Abkhazia. Georgian police said the vehicles came from the base.
While this was going on, the US military airlift into Georgia continued,with NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, U.S. Gen. John Craddock,and his staff visiting Georgian military bases and personnel. General Craddock called the Russian pull back, "far too slow."
At the same time, the three US Naval vessels, the AEGIS destroyer, USS McFaul, the 6th fleet Flagship, the USS Mount Whitney, and a high-endurance US Coast Guard Cutter, the the USCGC Dallas, were approaching Georgia to deliver much more humanitarioan help along the coast. The McFaul aactually passed through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles Straits into the Black Sea on Friday and was nearing Gerogia.
In addition, a strong NATO naval group passed throught the Straits into the Black Sea to assist with the humanitarian effort heading towards Poti which include several strong surface combatants.
Those vessels include a Spanish AEGIS vessel, the F100 class Frigate, F102 Bourbon, a strong German Bremen Class frigate, the F214 Luebeck, and a Polish vessel that is a former Oliver Hazard Perry Class US Friagte, upgraded for the Polish, the Polaski.
Those vessels are going to be very capable of very strong air defense, surface action, anti-submarine warfare, and ground support...in addition to the humanitarian support.
Spanish AEGIS frigate, F100 class Juan de Bourbon, F102
German Bremen Class Frigate, the FGS Luebeck, F 214
Polish former Perry class US FFG, the ORP General K Pulaski
A potential flash point is developing around the Georgian port city of Poti where Russian forces continue to occupy areas around the city, where the American vessels would most likely unload their humanitarian supplies. The US views the pull back from Poti, in conjunction with other Russian pull backs, as a key to diffusing the situation.
At the port of Poti, where the Russians anticpated the arrival of US warships, a group of armored personnel carriers (APCs) and four tanks blocked the bridge into Poti, and Russian forces excavated trenches and set up mortars facing the city. Another group of APCs and trucks were positioned in a nearby wooded area. Georgian civilians from Poti protested at the roadblock. This occurred as elsewhere in Georgia the Russians had already compelted their general withdrawal and many of their tanks and personnel were exiting the Province of South Ossetia and entering Russia proper.
Meanwhile, 80 kilometers (55 miles) south of the port of Poti, at the Georgian port of Batumi, the US simply avoided the confrontation when the first U.S. warship, the guided missle and AEGIS detroyer, USS McFaul docked there instead to bring aid to Georgia on Sunday, August 24, 2008. The arrival is a strong gesture of support for the Georgian republic in its conflict with Russia.