Wayne Madsen Report (in full) –
August 28, 2008 — Russia confirms WMR report that it seized US intelligence equipment: On August 25, 2008, WMR reported, “Russians also captured another prize, five U.S. Marine Corps Humvees that were providing signals intelligence and electronic warfare assistance to Georgian forces. Along with the Humvees and their classified equipment, the Russians also obtained important and highly-classified encryption codes used by the United States and NATO to scramble their military and diplomatic communications. U.S. intelligence sources told WMR that the Russians obtained an intelligence windfall from the capture of the Humvees.”
The Deputy Chief of the Russian General Staff Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn told ITAR-TASS that five Humvees captured by Russian troops at the Georgian port of Poti wold have been returned to the United States if there “had there been U.S. citizens inside at the moment of detention.” The admission indicates that the United States military handed sophisticated Special Operations Forces (SOF) Intelligence Vehicles to Georgian troops, non-members of NATO, possibly compromising NATO and U.S. intelligence sources and methods to Russia.
Izvestia’s Moscow edition reported on August 27 that the Russians also seized a specialized military Landrover in Poti, along with the five Humvees. As Izvestia noted, “It’s hard to believe that Washington responded so quickly and brazenly to the loss of only six cars. Such vehicles burn by the dozen in Iraq – and the Americans don’t complain to the resistance there. But they feel differently about the jeeps in Georgia.”
However, the Russians soon realized that the six captured vehicles were not merely for transport but for intelligence gathering. Nogovitsyn stated in Moscow: “Russia is very interested in this incident. We believe the Pentagon has its reasons for worrying about the Humvees. We found a great deal of interest in the internal workings of these vehicles, and we are continuing to work on that.” Another translation of Nogovitsyn’s remarks had him stating: “It is not accidental the Pentagon is so worried about the future of its Hummers . . . We have discovered many things of interest to us inside the vehicles.”
Not only was the Pentagon concerned about the capture of the Humvees but Crawford White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe weighed in: “We’d certainly expect that the Russians would return any equipment that is U.S. equipment and return it quickly, if, in fact, they do have it.”
Izvestia also reported another curious element of the Humvee story — that some of the U.S. electronic equipment in the Humvees were manufactured under U.S. license in Odessa in Ukraine. Like Georgia, Ukraine is not a member of NATO, yet NATO-compatible sensitive military equipment is being manufactured in a non-NATO country. The Izvestia article stated: “The Georgian military not only abandoned valuable equipment, but essentially blew the lid on the U.S. security system. In Gori, Russian troops seized an American intelligence center packed with cutting-edge reconnaissance equipment. All of it is in Russia now. And the six jeeps [Humvees and Landrover] are a mobile reconnaissance and patrol complex, providing troop management in the field. According to our sources, the leading car’s equipment wasn’t the most modern at all; and most curiously of all, it is produced under license from the USA in Odessa, Ukraine.”
A Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson told Izvestia, “Another reason why the Americans are infuriated is because the Georgians have humiliated the USA in front of the whole world. The Americans trained the Georgian army for five years, arming them with the latest weapons and hardware – but the Georgians ran like rats at the first sign of action against Russian troops, abandoning all their hardware.”
Jane’s Defense reports that Georgia’s tactical intelligence left much to be desired even with their American and Israeli support. Georgia’s Israeli-supplied unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were worthless against the Russians because Russia’s “rapid assertion of complete air superiority” prevented the use of manned and unmanned aerial reconnaissance flights. Georgia’s military intelligence assets inside South Ossetia were confined to Georgian enclaves where they could not report on Russian military movements in the rest of the region.
Georgia’s own intelligence failure means that the United States likely supplemented Georgia’s reconnaissance with satellite imagery obtainable from mobile intelligence stations such as the one the Russians captured in Gori and the Humvees taken in Poti. Georgia’s problems with handling the intelligence provided by the Americans is also hinted at by a Jane’s report: “the Georgians proved unable to effectively fuse intelligence from a range of sources in the chaotic and sometimes panicked atmosphere that followed the Russian onslaught.”
Nogovitsyn’s comment that “we have discovered many things of interest to us inside the vehicles,” may be an understatement of the intelligence windfall obtained by the Russians, which means that CIA Director Michael Hayden and Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, both former National Security Agency (NSA) directors, have a major security compromise on their hands.
Georgia not only suffered an intelligence defeat but also a major naval disaster. Jane’s Navy International reports that Russia’s Navy destroyed at least six Georgian patrol and fast attack vessels but only after Georgian vessels attacked Russian Federation naval ships off Abkhazia. Jane’s reports: “four Georgian craft made two attempts to attack ships of the RFN’s [Russian Federation Navy] Black Sea Fleet, with the Nanuchka-class corvettes RFS Mirazh and RFS Shtyl returning fire and sinking one of the boats.” Russian ground troops later neutralized Georgian vessels in Poti, including the Greek-supplied Anninos-class fast attack craft Dioscuria, Georgia’s most capable naval ship.