Armed Forces of South Ossetia

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Armed Forces of South Ossetia
Coat of arms of South Ossetia.svg
FoundedFebruary 23, 1992
Service branches
  • South Ossetian Army
  • South Ossetian Air Corps
Supreme Commander in ChiefAnatoliy Bibilov
Minister of DefenceLieutenant-General Ibrahim Gazseev
Chief of the General StaffColonel Viktor Fedorov
Active personnel2,500
Domestic suppliersN/A
Foreign suppliers Russia
Related articles

The Armed Forces of South Ossetia is the military of the partially recognised state of South Ossetia. The force consists of 16,000 soldiers: 2500 officers and active-duty soldiers and 13,500 reservists.[1] It includes an Army and an Air Corps.

The South Ossetian Army was formed in 1992, and is the primary defense force in the breakaway republic of South Ossetia, largely considered to be within internationally recognized Georgian territory.


A South Ossetian Soldier in 2011.

The Ossetian Republican Guard (Russian: Республиканская гвардия Осетии) was organized on 15 November 1991 to participate in the defence of the national capital of Tskhinvali.[2] Just a week later, Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia ordered over 10,000 soldiers to the republic. When it was created, it was mostly a loosely organized group of guerillas.[3] It was a participant in the 1991–1992 South Ossetia War, providing 2,400 guardsmen to fight against forces from the National Guard of Georgia.[4] On 17 November 1992, the Supreme Soviet of South Ossetia approved the formation the Ministry of Defence to lead the military. The first combat units of the national armed forces were formed in February 1993. The first units in the MoD was the Military Intelligence Unit and the Artillery Division.[5]

2008 South Ossetia War[edit]

The South Ossetian military fought against the Georgian forces in the 2008 South Ossetia War. At the time of the major Georgian offensive, the bulk of the Ossetian force was concentrated in the settlement of Java to the north of Tskhinvali.[6] According to Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, what thwarted the Georgian operation in the end was the resistance offered by peacekeepers and lightly armed South Ossetian units that stayed behind to defend the capital.[6] Also Russian regular army forces entered the fighting on August 8 and drove deep into Georgia proper, occasionally accompanied or followed by South Ossetian militia who committed serious human rights violations, particularly in the Georgian villages of South Ossetia.[7]

According one estimate, the losses of the South Ossetian military forces, militia, and volunteers in the war amounted to 150 dead.[8][9] According to a 2012 statement by the President of Russia Vladimir Putin, Russia had been training the South Ossetian militias as part of the Russian General Staff's 2006–2007 plan to rebuff Georgia in case of war.[10]

Partial incorporation into Russian Armed Forces[edit]

In March 2015, members of the Parliament of South Ossetia put forward a proposal to dissolve South Ossetia's military and fold it into the Russian Armed Forces, but the proposal was ultimately rejected by South Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov and Defense Minister Ibrahim Gassayev. The South Ossetian units were to be incorporated into the Russian military but remain separate units.[11]

On 31 March 2017, defence ministers of the two countries signed agreements whereby some units of the armed forces of South Ossetia would go under Russia′s command.[12]


Members of the South Ossetian armed forces during a parade in Tskhinvali in May, 2009
Armoured vehicles during the September, 2009 parade in commemoration of the declaration of independence in Tskhinvali

The South Ossetian military has a total of 16,000 soldiers. 2,500 soldiers are on active duty and 13,500 are reservists.

At the beginning of the 2008 South Ossetia War, the armed forces possessed the following equipment:[13][14][15][16]

After the 2008 South Ossetia War, some of the tanks captured from Georgia's forces have been transferred to the South Ossetian military.

Retired equipment[edit]

  • IS-2 tank – phased out of service since 1995.
  • IS-3 tank – phased out of service since 1995.
  • T-10 tank – phased out of service since 1995.
  • Grom missile – captured during the Russo-Georgian War. Probably no longer in service.[19]


A South Ossetian military colour guard during a parade in Donetsk in 2018.


Army Headquarters[edit]

  • General Staff
  • Intelligence Company
  • Communications Battalion
  • Transport Battalion
  • Special Forces Company
  • Sniper Company
  • Engineering Company
  • Security Company
  • Guard of Honour
  • Military Brass Band

Regular Army[edit]

  • 10 Battalion
  • 11 Battalion
  • 13 Battalion
  • 15 Battalion
  • Tank Brigade
  • Logistics Brigade

Reserve Army[edit]

  • 17 Battalion
  • 18 Battalion
  • 19 Battalion
  • 20 Battalion
  • 21 Battalion
  • 22 Battalion
  • 23 Battalion
  • 25 Battalion
  • 26 Battalion

Personnel and training[edit]

There are 2,500 active duty soldiers and 13,500 reservist members within the South Ossetian Army (SOA).[20] Training within the SOA is conducted by both experienced South Ossetian troops and members of the Russian Airborne Troops. In August 2009 the SOA and Russia reorganized the 4 Air Mobile Brigade, as a joint forces brigade, which would have an active Russian military base in South Ossetia. The Russian Airborne Troops are reported to have established an active military base outside of Java, South Ossetia and are reported to have trained SOA recruits since the summer of 2009.


South Ossetian security forces parading on Theatre Square in full dress uniform.

Beret colours[edit]

Combat uniform[edit]

All uniforms are donated by the Russian Ground Forces, the tri-coloured Flora pattern is standard issue throughout the SOA. It is planned that the SOA will wear a variant of the Ukrainian BDU camouflage.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "What will be the outcome of the Georgian-Ossetian war?". Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Denber, Rachel (1992). Bloodshed in the Caucasus: Violations of Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in the Georgia-South Ossetia Conflict. ISBN 9781564320582.
  4. ^ Cvetkovski, Nikola. "The Georgian – South Ossetian Conflict". Danish Association for Research on the Caucasus. Archived from the original on 30 April 2009. Retrieved 15 August 2009.
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b The Russian Air Force didn't perform well during the conflict in South Ossetia Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies 2008-11-15
  7. ^ Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in Georgia(September 2009), 211 Archived February 27, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Barabanov, Mikhail (2008-09-12). "The August War between Russia and Georgia". Moscow Defense Brief. Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. 3 (13). Archived from the original on April 16, 2009.
  9. ^ "Moscow Defense Brief". Archived from the original on 16 April 2009. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  10. ^ Russia had plan to rebuff Georgian aggression – Putin Archived 2012-08-11 at the Wayback Machine. The Voice of Russia. August 8, 2012.
  11. ^ Kucera, Joshua (January 19, 2017). "South Ossetia Keeps Its Military, For Now". EurasiaNet. Archived from the original on January 21, 2017. South Ossetia's armed forces will become part of the Russian armed forces but will retain separate units, the self-declared republic's authorities have announced. The plan appears to be a compromise worked out between the de facto leadership in Tskhinvali and their patrons in Moscow [...] In 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his de facto South Ossetian counterpart Leonid Tibilov signed an agreement on "alliance and integration" which included a provision calling for "certain units of the armed forces of South Ossetia to enter the structure" of the Russian military.
  12. ^ Подписано соглашение о вхождении части подразделений армии Южной Осетии в ВС РФ TASS, 31 March 2017.
  13. ^ [1] Archived June 10, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Retrieved 24 December 2014. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ "N 98 (4 2008): :". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  16. ^ "CryptoGSM : СМИ о прослушивании GSM : Грузия : Война в Южной Осетии: сколько на самом деле потеряла Россия". Archived from the original on 22 January 2016. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
  17. ^ "Фоторепотраж с празднования 18-летия РЮО » АЛАНИЯинформ".
  18. ^ Georgia, Civil. "Civil.Ge - Tskhinvali Celebrated Independence Day".
  19. ^ "WikiLeaks o GROM-ach w Czeczenii".
  20. ^

External links[edit]