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Dire New Western Reports Call to Ditch NATO Tactics
Plus a roundup of other grist from the Western propaganda mill
I wanted to do a roundup of the most trenchantly interesting releases from the Western military pundit-sphere regarding Russian tactics and their putative ‘evolution’, as well as outlooks on the conflict’s future.
The first big one making waves is from RUSI (Royal United Services Institute), a military thinktank which calls itself the “oldest defense and security think tank in the world,” having been founded by the Duke of Wellington in 1831.
Their latest “special report” gives a considered update on Ukraine’s counteroffensive. They start off with the admission that Ukraine is suffering “from heavy rates of equipment loss” but… “the design of armored fighting vehicles supplied by its international partners is preventing this from converting inot a high number of killed personnel.”
This is the latest throughline adopted by the West as an attempt to buoy morale in the AFU. You’ll notice that after the Challenger 2’s first ever kill the other day, the “cope” from the newly appointed British defense minister is that, well, at least the crew survived.
Though it is a digression, let me explain why I believe he’s lying, because it gets to the heart of the topic.
The footage of the actual Challenger kill was released, and was purportedly done by a Kornet ATGM, which created a large explosion:
The important thing that people have pointed out, is if you look at the photos of the killed tank, it appears that the turret has actually been completely detached from the hull and is sitting on the edge of the side in a way it’s not supposed to be:
Note how the front of the turret sits roughly flush with the side of the tank when it’s turned, and the rear of the turret which houses the ammo hangs over the other side, on a properly fitted tank. But in the destruction footage, we see that the front of the turret is actually hanging over the side and the rear is flush. You can see it more clearly without the drawn on lines:
The point is that for a turret to catastrophically separate from the hull in such a way would mean an explosion of a sort that likely no one survived. Not to mention there appears to be a huge hole where the commander’s hatch should be, which also points to a detonation incompatible with life.
Recently, Russian engineers at Kurganmashzavod—Russia’s premier IFV manufacturer—who studied a captured Bradley released this report:
But wait until you see the real piece de resistance on the Bradley which clinches this point later on in the article.
The fact is, Western weapons aren’t as good as the advertising. So to say that the crew “survived” despite the systems being continually picked off in a turkey shoot is not a great endorsement.
The RUSI report continues by stating that “The prerequisite condition for any offensive action is fires (artillery) dominance. This has been achieved through blinding the counterbattery capability of Russian guns and the availability of precise and long-range artillery systems. Ensuring the sustainability of this advantage by properly resourcing ammunition production and spares for a consolidated artillery park is critical.”
Let’s see what an actual commander of a Russian artillery division fighting on this front has to say about this:
So firstly, he’s a commander of a DPR group called “Kaskad”, not quite of the Russian army proper, but his words are still very interesting. He describes the artillery action in the Urozhayne sector recently, right near Staromayorsk on the famed “Vremevske ledge” south of Velyka Novosilka.
Just from his unit they fire 450 shells an hour
AFU fires more, up to 2800 “cassette” (cluster munitions) type shells per day
According to radio intercepts, the AFU had 3,000+ casualties only in their small area of settlements. This doesn’t count the entire even much more active western front near Rabotino where they’ve had as many as 10-20k estimated
I’ve posted previous interviews with Russian commanders in this same sector which state that their losses are tiny compared to the AFU. So, does RUSI have a point that Ukraine has brought artillery “superiority” to bear on Russia? According to this commander in his sector they do fire more rounds—this is likely due to the fact that when you conduct an offensive, you have to allot a large portion of ammunition with the expectation that you should be outfiring your opponent. The theory is that the opponent is on defense and therefore entrenched, which means far more shots have to be fired to achieve the same effect or casualty rate. The defender, on the other hand, can fire far less shots and do more damage to you because the offensive force is exposed “out in the open” and are far easier to hit as they cross the fields compared to an entrenched defender dug into underground trenches.
RUSI confirms some of the above with the next section, which states that Ukraine had been conserving ammo for the counteroffensive for a long time and is now expending it more liberally:
There’s the continued propaganda line that the American-supplied M777s have superior range. To what? Russia has more types of artillery systems than all of NATO combined. There’s D-20, D-30, 2A29, 2A36, 2A61, 2A65, 2S1, 2S3, 2S5, 2S7, 2S19 and 2S19M2, not to mention the new 2S43 ‘Malva’ reportedly being shipped to troops soon, as well as the endless MLRS systems not included above, which outrange pretty much everything. Many of these have less range than American M777s, and a few of them have greater range, namely the 2S7M, but also the 2A36, 2S19M2, and even 2A65 depending on the type of round, particularly if they’re using the longest range RAP and the M777 isn’t.
I want to settle this debate once and for all, which Western sources continue to propagate under false pretenses. The standard issue U.S. army workhorse shell being used by Ukraine is the M795. You can see on the official M777 page, the listed range for the howitzer with the M795 shell:
We have 23.5km, keep that in mind.
Now let’s list the ranges of the Russian artillery systems. We’ll use only equivalent 152mm systems rather than 122mm. You can verify all the below yourself on their official wiki pages.
Russia’s oldest D-20 howitzer has the smallest range at 17.4km, the 2S3 Akatsiya about 18.5km.
But the 2A36:
As you can see, 2 of the Russian systems have poorer range, a couple have slightly better or almost even range, and another couple have much higher range.
Of course Western media “picks and chooses” the reports from smaller volunteer groups or not-as-well armed DPR units which may be using Gvozdikas, Akatsiyas, D-20s, etc. But ignore the Russian units using 2A36s, 2S19s, 2S5s, 2S7s etc., which can all outrange the M777.
Yes, Ukraine also has other systems like German PhZ2000 and French Caesar that reportedly have higher ranges with standard ammo, but they’re also far fewer in number, and Russia has already attrited a lot if not most of them, not to mention that their ranges still pale in comparison to 2S7Ms. As for Polish Krab and British As-90, same thing, except they don’t even have a higher range to begin with.
The truth is that the Russian side simply has a far lower tolerance to losses. So when they get 1 or 2 units taken out via counterbattery fire an alarm goes off, and their tone in reports is much more consequential. But Ukraine can lose 10 artillery pieces and that will be a “good day” for them, so to speak. People pick up on the more urgent Russian tone and derive from that the implication that Russia is taking heavier losses therefore Ukraine’s artillery must be superior in some way. That’s not quite how it works.
In fact, in recent times the only real attrition to Russia’s artillery that Ukraine has effectively carried out is by way of HIMARs, which has 90km range. Why do you think they’re leaning on HIMARs so heavily to counter-snipe Russian artillery batteries?
Why did 2 of the West’s most advanced artillery SPGs, the French Caesar and British AS-90 both just suffer catastrophic deaths in the past few days:
Furthermore, Ukraine suffers from far greater barrel wear as they don’t have the luxury to swap barrels as Russia does, for obvious logistical reasons. That means their systems lose accuracy and range. The actual operative range of most of their remaining M777s is probably 15km give or take, as that’s the most you’ll get out of a worn barrel—and the M777 barrels are finicky to begin with.
Russia on the other hand provably swaps barrels on the front all the time, as numerous videos attest:
In conclusion, there’s no truth to Ukraine’s purported artillery ‘range’ superiority, only when taken from the hand-picked account of one particular unit which happens to be under-equipped with old gear like D-30s. There are many such units, make no mistake, but there are also many with the better platforms. Remember, Ukraine took delivery of only around ~150+ give or take M777s total, Russia has 760 just of superior 2S19s, not counting the thousands of other barrel types.
Moving on, the RUSI article describes the very opening foray of the early June counteroffensive. There are two interesting admissions: the first, that the MaxxPro MRAPs got “bogged down” in the mud—proving the rumors we heard of their inadequacy in Ukrainian terrain. The second even more interesting is as follows; read the highlighted portion very carefully:
Recall that we know the very first breaches conducted on this counteroffensive were with Leopard 2A6s. Here RUSI chooses to demur and not admit of the harsh reality, preferring to vaguely call them “tanks.”
We were told for years that Western tanks, particularly the Leopard 2A6 variants, were the most advanced things in the world and would easily destroy Russian tanks in a head-to-head duel due to their superior optics, fire control systems (FCS), barrel accuracies, ammunition range and ballistics, gun stabilization, etc.
But astonishingly, one of the self-proclaimed most authoritative and oldest thinktanks in the world states that Russian tanks began to engage the column led by Ukrainian “tanks”, and—lo and behold—the painful admission: “The vehicles in the column were knocked out in succession.”
What happened to all those superior optics, stabilizations, and everything in between?
A new WarOnTheRocks article from the now infamous Rob Lee and Michael Kofman also sheds light on this much-discussed opening phase. They corroborate some of the findings, not only stating that Ukraine rarely uses more than a couple tanks at a time due to fear of losses, but that only a few platoons in a brigade are assault ready:
Around Bakhmut, for example, many of Ukraine’s mechanized assaults feature one to two squads backed by two tanks. Ukrainian tank units, according to our field research, rarely mass at the company level because of the risk of losing too many tanks at once. Tank battles are rare. Tanks spend much of their time supporting infantry and providing indirect fires. They generally operate in pairs, or in platoons, supporting infantry attacks. This offensive has largely been characterized by platoon-level infantry assaults, fighting tree line to tree line. Despite their size, brigades often have a limited number of platoons and companies that have assault training, constraining the forces available for such tasks.
The other big admission in their tepid piece is that Russia is in fact deliberately trading space for attrition, a fact clear to any even mid-level analyst but still repeatedly ignored by propaganda-boost-hungry Western cheerleaders:
Getting back to the RUSI piece, the rest of the section covers some post-op BDA stuff so we move onto the next interesting section called “Russian Lessons and Adaptation.”
It starts off with another big concession:
The tactical actions around Novodarivka and Rivnopil were largely seen as successes by Russian forces insofar as they inflicted sufficient equipment losses in the early phases so as to degrade the reach of Ukrainian manoeuvre units assuming a consistent rate of loss through the depth of Russia’s defensive positions.
They are admitting that even though Ukraine eventually took those two small settlements, it was basically a Russian success because of the outsize and unsustainable casualties the AFU took. These are fairly stark confessions from an institute bent on promoting as ‘sanitized’ a version of the war as possible.
The Russian military has also determined to tactically exploit opportunities when Ukrainian forces have become bogged down by aggressive flanking with armour to knock out Ukrainian systems. It is worth noting that Russia often loses the tanks used for these counterattacks but they inflict disproportionate damage because the mines constrain Ukrainian vehicles in their ability to manoeuvre or respond. This willingness to counterattack and a decision to defend forwards highlight how training for Russian tank crews and other specialisms has continued to function, generating new crews with some tactical competence compared with the disruption in collective training that has hampered Russian infantry.
According to them, Russia is showing vast improvement in EW warfare, innovating new usages such as using smaller, lighter, mobile systems like Pole-21 to act as the “antenna” transmitter to larger more powerful systems. This allows the mobile unit to give off the EW signal leaving the larger mainframe safe and hidden, enabling wider battlefield coverage.
The final and most important advancement they note, is that the famed Russian Reconnaissance-Fire-Complex (RFC) has been continually improving every day. They note that Russia has favored prioritizing guided munitions like the Krasnopol and has tightened its ISR capabilities in carrying out accurate strikes that allows them to destroy targets with far less ammo expenditures than old Soviet grid-style gunlaying doctrines.
This is a concerning trend, as over time it will likely significantly improve Russian artillery. The growth in the complexity, diversity and density of Russian UAVs is concerning. The gains in both effect of the warhead and the economy of its design between Lancet-3 and Lancet-3M demonstrate how the Russians are actively improving their fielded equipment. Modifications to loitering munitions to achieve noise reduction on Shahed-136 and to harden navigation are also notable.
The most important point in my view revolves around the improvements in the communications of the Recon-Fire-Complex authority/kill chains. This is of utmost importance and mentions something I’ve long harped on:
Enabling the RFC depends on communications. Here too, the Russian military is making important progress. At the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Russian forces depended heavily on bespoke military radios. In the scramble for equipment late last year, a wide array of civilian systems was employed. Conceptually, however, the Russians now appear to have moved on, increasingly relying on military bearer networks but app-based services for encoding and accessing data. The result is that a system such as Strelets can provide a 3G connection to multiple devices operating applications that are intuitive for civilian users. This separation of bearers and services is nascent and the security and robustness of the systems being tested must be doubted. Nevertheless, the reduced training burden of this approach and the improvements in fire direction already achieved mean that the AFRF are likely to continue to push in this direction and increasingly systematise their communications architecture around these methods.
They mention the Strelets system of which I wrote about here:
This is important because Russia’s defense channel just released this video days ago, again showcasing precisely one of these systems which is already being rolled out to the artillery forces. The video demonstrates the Planshet-M system which allows much greater coordination between commander/scout units, ISR/drone teams, and the actual battery commanders, seamlessly sending target and coordinate data between the units for a reduced RFC loop time:
Much of this is echoed by another Foreign Affairs—which, by the way, is the official magazine of the Council on Foreign Relations—piece which declares that Russia, troublingly, is improving in many ways:
Business Insider concurs with their new piece:
Russia's ability to jam Ukraine's drones has only gotten better, forcing drone operators to move closer to the front lines and putting those highly valuable troops in more danger as Ukraine's counteroffensive churns on.
We’ll skip the rest since it covers previous points.
The RUSI piece finishes up with a few other important points I’ll highlight in quicker succession. They note that Ukrainian commanders prioritize not laying down smoke because they prefer to see the battlefield with drone “eyes in the sky”, rather than blinding the Russian side but also themselves:
Commanders persistently prioritise maintaining their own understanding of the battlefield over laying down smoke and concealing their personnel’s movements. Given the criticality of rapid application of artillery to support movement, this prioritisation is understandable, but it also reflects limitations in the ability of the brigade to trust tactical commanders to execute actions when not directed by high headquarters with greater situational awareness. Given the saturation of the headquarters that results, it is vital to train junior leaders, in combination with expanding staff capacity.
The big takeaway here is that this reflects on the “limitations in the ability of the brigade to trust tactical commanders to execute actions when not directed by high HQ.”
What does that sound like?
They are admitting that the “NATO-trained” sergeants and much-vaunted junior-NCOs are in fact not up to the task, and that commanders “in the rear” don’t trust them to actually make any sound tactical decisions on their own, preferring to watch the battlefield from drones and make all the tactical decisions “centrally” like the so-called [misnomered] “Soviet system.”
After all that time talking up the superiority of NATO and ‘Wester-style training’, they now admit that it’s all bunk.
They go on to describe how training in NATO countries is in fact inadequate because it’s done under conditions that are not realistic to the actual battlefield.
Collective training outside Ukraine is hampered by the fact that because of the safety culture in NATO, Ukrainian troops cannot train as they fight. Moreover, many NATO tactics either require a level of training that is not feasible within the timeframe available, or are not validated in the modern threat environment.
Read that again: NATO tactics “are not validated in the modern threat environment.” That’s a monster of an admission. Interestingly, the chief “military expert” behind this report, Dr. Jack Watling—Senior Research Fellow for Land Warfare at the Royal United Services Institute—had previously written an article for The Guardian in July where he said the following:
A couple of months before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, I was lying on a hilltop watching a US mechanised battalion thundering down a valley, tasked with breaching a set of obstacles. The obstacles were less formidable than those in Ukraine, and the enemy in the exercise comprised a single company backed by limited artillery. Nevertheless, the US troops made a mess of things. Their reconnaissance troops failed to screen their vehicles, they went static in sight of the enemy and they were severely punished.
The fact that well-trained US troops struggle to conduct combined-arms obstacle breaching under more favourable circumstances underscores how difficult it is. Moreover, the US troops I was observing may have performed poorly, but they did so in training. If ever they have to do it for real, they will have had repeated opportunities to learn and improve. Ukrainian troops have not had that luxury.
What’s this? We were chastized for months for doubting the supremacy of U.S.’s vaunted “combined arms” capabilities. It seems not all was as we thought.
But the RUSI report goes on:
This approach to force generation means that most Ukrainian battalions are generating approximately two platoons of troops which are considered fully capable of leading assault actions. While the rest of the battalion provides reinforcement, and the ability to hold ground, the size at which formations can conduct offensive action is severely constrained.
So, due to these various limitations, each battalion can only generate half a company’s worth of real fighting men, while the rest merely watches and provides fodder to replace those lost by the minute. This explains why we only see a company or two at most from each vaunted “brigade” strike out at a time.
By the way—in the previous Guardian article, Watling admitted that the only reason Ukraine even sends their troops to foreign countries to train is because they’re unable to do anything beyond solo soldier training in Ukraine proper due to training grounds being ripe targets for Russian strikes. That means for training of company level units and up, it’s impossible to do this apart from in UK, Germany, etc. And without such training, larger units simply can’t form the cohesion necessary for leading proper assaults. This is the huge conundrum Ukraine is in.
Finally, the RUSI report concludes:
It is also important to recognise that Russian forces are fighting more competently and with reasonable tenacity in the defence. Although they are losing ground, Russian forces are largely conducting orderly withdrawals from positions and are effectively slowing down and thereby managing Ukrainian advances while imposing a considerable cost in equipment
Well that’s a big one. Not only is Russia fighting competently but they conducting orderly withdrawals while imposing considerable costs on the AFU. We were told for months that AFU valiantly breaches through their ranks, slaughtering everyone and taking prisoners on each captured position. It seems reality is a little different than the slop fed to Western publics.
This RUSI report has spawned a wave of headlines highlighting the main thesis: that Ukraine should “stop training in NATO tactics,” as it’s only harming them, and in fact go back to what they know best:
The above report even quotes Watling from a new Telegraph interview where he states:
“We could get that horribly wrong.
“We could do it whereby we’re like – we’re going to teach you how to be a Nato staff officer … we have courses and we have a book that tells us what that means.
“But the problem is that if you take that person who has learned all these Nato procedures and you put them back in Ukraine, where they have different tools and where none of their colleagues understand any of the Nato terminology, then they will revert to what their colleagues understand.”
The article also relays a new German Bundeswehr report which states that the AFU has internally begun abandoning the useless “NATO-trained” officers in favor of people with actual combat experience, realizing that they know far more and are much more useful than those trained on sacred “NATO doctrine”:
A recently leaked German intelligence report said Kyiv’s advances had faltered because its army is not implementing the training it has received from the West.
The Bundeswehr assessment said the Ukrainian military favoured promoting soldiers with combat experience over those who had received Nato-standard instruction, which had led to “considerable deficiencies in leadership” and “wrong and dangerous decisions”.
Because it dovetails so aptly with the article I just wrote about the NATO/Russian NCO systems, I wanted to share this next bit as well, which states that Ukraine is experiencing such NCO attrition that they’ve got colonels planning individual building raids:
The high number of casualties sustained on the battlefield has only exacerbated the lack of potential junior leaders with experience on the front lines.
“This limits the scale at which brigades can combine arms, especially during offensive operations where planning times are compressed,” Dr Watling and his co-author Nick Reynolds wrote.
Often senior leaders, such as colonels in charge of stretches of up to 10 miles on the front line, are brought in to plan section attacks on buildings.
Training up a new class of junior officers would enable the more-experienced leaders to plan and coordinate wide scale attacks that could speed up Ukraine’s advances into Russian-occupied territory.
Springing off of that, we have a new Economist article featuring a director from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency:
The one important takeaway here is that U.S. intel agencies admit they underestimated Russian defenses. But the breathtaking admission that’s made is that the bulk of Russian reserves still remains on the 3rd line, which Ukraine hasn’t even reached yet:
That’s to say, the vast bulk of two entire army corps of the AFU were utterly destroyed with up to 50k casualties just fighting a fraction of Russia’s forces, while the bulk of Russian defenders still remains uncommitted in the rear. Imagine how demoralizing that must be to realize.
They admit that Ukraine has spent most of its reserves, a fact attested to by the destruction of the Challenger 2 recently, which means—as someone else put it—Ukraine is already “scraping the bottom of the barrel” of its last capabilities for the offensive. But don’t worry, says the DIA, Ukraine can rest over the winter and have a fresh try in spring 2024.
That segues us into this article from Mick Ryan, concerned with the future outlook:
He’s one of the more clear-headed and sensible of Western pundits on this war and admits many of the same shortcomings that now regularly plague reports from the West. That the West miscalculated, and had little idea how to fight such a war as we’re seeing in Ukraine. He calls for a new ‘Manhattan Project’ aimed at mine clearing to find new ways for Ukraine—or anyone in the future for that matter—to clear the types of minefields Russia is constructing.
The article revolves around the same theme du jour now sweeping Western reportage: the loss of hope for 2023 and subsequent focus on “sustainment” through 2024. The mood, underlined by the previous WarOnTheRocks article, is basically that there is no further hope in any ‘wunderwaffe’ weapons like F-16s or new types of cruise missiles. The hope can only rest on general blanket sustainment of the workhorse weapons systems used daily on the front: from nightvision goggles to Humvees and MRAPs, to artillery shells. The focus must switch not only from trying to turn the AFU into some newfangled NATO lovechild, but rather to letting them do what they know how to do best.
The problem with this strategy is that it presupposes that as long as you can keep pumping a minimum sustainment level of basic arms to Ukraine, they will continue trucking through and sucking up the inordinate losses they’re suffering. When you take a gloomy look at what the actual frontline troops themselves are saying, it becomes clear that this ‘status quo’ is not sustainable.
Take a look, for instance, at this new article from the Kyiv Independent which interviews troops of the newly and hastily formed 32nd brigade defending against Russia’s onslaught in the Kupyansk direction. There’s no greater propaganda source than Kyiv Independent, and yet even they’re forced to print these sobering words, perhaps as an alarm signal to their sponsors:
Speaking on their “NATO” training in Germany, the Ukrainian troops had this to say:
However, the same soldiers who spoke to the Kyiv Independent didn't hide their scorn about how the training prepared them for a war that doesn't exist in Ukraine. They said the NATO officers don't understand the reality on the ground.
"A NATO infantryman knows he's supported and can advance with the confidence that there's a high likelihood that he won't be killed or maimed," Ihor said.
The NATO way of war calls for massive preparatory airstrikes and artillery barrages and demining before the infantry is sent in, he added.
It usually doesn't work that way in Ukraine.
Long ago I wrote about how NATO is only proficient in teaching COIN (Counter-insurgency) tactics. The article above affirms this by stating that NATO instructors only taught Ukrainian soldiers urban warfare-style tactics:
Zgurets said that the instructors in Germany put a lot of emphasis on teaching urban combat. But the skills of how to smoke an enemy out from a trench, how to build an assault group, and coordinate it with artillery and drone support were lacking.
The style of battle in the Ukrainian countryside, blending World War I trench combat and 21st-century tech and tactics, are only seen in Ukraine — they are outside NATO's wheelhouse.
Recall in my last report I spoke about Ukrainian meat-assault tactics because their actual armor has attritioned to such a point they’re forced to literally run towards Russian positions on foot. Not only does the Kyiv Post article state in the opening that the troops in the Kharkov direction lack much equipment at all because “all the best stuff was sent down to the Zaporozhye offensive” but here’s a description that confirms the type of things I was highlighting:
Not only that, but recall the repeated complaints from turbo/schizopatriots or outright concern-trolls that Russian troops are low on every piece of valuable kit, typically taken from one out of context report from a single volunteer unit, or something of the sort. The article makes this point clear, at least in this direction:
"They have night vision drones, Orlans, and other tech; they see everything," Volodymyr said. Many of these drones are equipped with droppable munitions, having learned from the Ukrainians using this technique in 2022.
The feeling of constantly being watched and targeted is hugely demoralizing for the Ukrainian troops.
"It locks you up, you want to take certain actions, but you can't because the eye of Sauron is always watching," Ihor said, referencing the villain and master of the orcish horde from the Lord of the Rings.
It further describes how advanced Russian SIGINT warfare is:
But they have their own nasty surprises to worry about. A tank platoon commander named Vladyslav recalls how the first time a Ukrainian tried to use a tank radio, the Russians immediately zeroed in on it and buried it in artillery. Since then, they learned never to use communications devices more powerful than a hand-held. Enemy troops are too-well positioned to punish any slip-ups.
The article ends on the admission that “Russia has a massive artillery advantage throughout the country,” once more underscoring my point about the morale-boosting exaggerations in the Zaporozhye direction, which repeatedly claim Ukraine has some sort of ‘artillery advantage’ there merely to give them at least one thing to write home about.
And a new article from UK’s The Times gives this week’s final grim view of the mindset pervading Ukrainian trenches:
The article relays such, now blasé, statistics:
In fact, this article gives the grisliest of all looks at the horror being suffered by the AFU. For instance, another excerpt confirms how “meat assault” soldiers are forced to run on foot toward enemy positions because easily-destroyed armor has proven too scarce and valuable to be ‘wasted’ in frontal assaults:
Medics of the ‘elite’ 47th brigade go on to admit that their casualties have run into four figures:
Do the math on that. A Ukrainian brigade is said to be 4,000 men in principle, but many or even most of them reportedly have only 2k - 3k. Four figure casualties means upwards of half of the brigade or more is being completely wiped out, a fact sadly already corroborated by leaked documents I’ve previously presented.
But it gets worse. Recall how Western pundits’ chief consolation, particularly on the recent Challenger hit, is that at least crews in Western armor survive after getting hit, unlike—they claim—those of Russian-made armor. This includes Bradleys, which are said to be infinitely more ergonomic, safer, and more survivable compared to Russian BMPs.
Well, I’ll let you decide with this final, horrific doozy of a section:
The veritable paragon of survivability.
It becomes so clear now how decades of Western propaganda had built up their equipment with fraudulent, unearned accolades and distinctions. Now, in the first true test against a real foe, the lies all come crashing down.
Of course, such horrors as the above are underscored by the weekly mutinies taking place within the AFU ranks. Just in the past two days alone we’ve had two new videos, one from the 46th Airmobile Brigade of the AFU fighting on the Zaporozhye line:
The other from a unit on the right-bank of the Kherson front:
Both complain of problems and low morale, which is fairly universal throughout the AFU ranks apart from some core diehard nationalist units.
Have you ever played one of those Real Time Strategy games where each unit accrues ‘experience points’ the longer it stays alive, making it stronger, deal more damage, etc.? It’s a fairly apt analogy to how next year will look. Russia’s units are taking far less losses, and thus are accumulating heaps of experience, making them stronger, hardier, more accurate and resourceful, etc. Ukraine on the other hand is constantly being replenished with ever-newer and ever-less-fit stock—including invalids, geriatrics, now women, etc.
That means by next year, a majority of Russian troops will have the equivalent of a three-star XP rating above their heads, while those of the AFU will be fresh 0 star ones. The end result will be that losses for the AFU will take on an ever-less ‘linear’ disparity, and will begin to turn parabolic. Whatever the kill ratio is presently, it will only get worse by next year as seasoned Russian troops are wantonly pitted against untrained press-ganged conscripts.
The biggest takeaway from these reports is a blind hope that the West will somehow ‘stay the course’ and continue filling Ukraine’s needs through next year. But we’ve already seen that not only are severe cutbacks in funding expected, but there’s not much top equipment left to send, which is why they’re already scraping the bottom of the barrel with things like old Leopard 1s to replace the lost 2 series.
Furthermore, much of the hoped-for European/Western arms manufacturing solidarity has not come to pass. The hollow promises of massive manufacturing boosts were made under the presumption of newly formed consortiums which can work together to open new factories and pump out huge quantities of shells. But none of that has happened, as companies instead balked and played for time, too chary to invest in a dubious proposition. For instance, this new illustrative ‘setback’:
Russia on the other hand understands the economic aspect of the war. In fact Andrei Martyanov recently sounded off on this in his new video on Alexander Svechin, considered one of Russia’s foremost military theorists—the ‘Russian Clausewitz’. From Svechin’s writings, Martyanov points out how deeply steeped Russian doctrine is in the economic considerations of warfare:
And since, as Martyanov states, Gerasimov is a big devotee of Svechin, we can deduce that Russia is well aware of the economic dimensions.
More from the video:
This summarizes the outlook. I believe that Russia, despite its at times seeming vacillations or Putin’s noncommittal attitude toward strictly defining conflict objectives, does in fact have a concrete plan, which is roughly that of the above. The plan is underpinned by a synergy between military and industry, which is working toward delivering the type of steadily increasing outputs aimed at driving Ukraine into an attrition deficit abyss. In the end it’s a simple numbers game, and Russian doctrines and military theory have long established all the set parameters in how to grind out such a victory with the same systematic, practiced application of a chessmaster applying perfunctory opening theory against a beginner opponent.
Lacking any ability to achieve real strategic breakthroughs or battlefield victories, Ukraine’s only task henceforth is to continue creating a string of perception-management ‘tokens’ which can be used to drive public sentiment and belief just enough to reach the next such ‘token’.
For instance, the F-16 perception-token is still far away—a yawning abyss of hopeless loss lies from now to then. In order to stave off the collapse of public trust and Western nation support, Ukraine will have to gain a new shiny toy to bridge the gap and briefly manage public perception up until the F-16s can be arranged. As of this writing, it’s now looking like the new, immediate perception-token will be the ATACMS missile, as new hints from the Biden administration have leaked that imply they are very close to greenlighting this next wunderwaffe.
Should it be delivered, the ATACMS will be used to make a couple big splashes somewhere—most likely a civilian area unprotected by AD—in Donbass, which will be crudely packaged and sold, as ever, by mainstream press as a “devastating blow” to a putative Russian “critical C2/C3 node” or logistics rear. That will restart the cycle of driving hope in some Ukrainian ‘victory’, which will continue on with ever-diminishing returns, each new ‘wunderwaffe’ not only having less and less impact, but an ever-shorter lifespan. Though it’s hard to imagine how much shorter it can get than the week-long flameouts of the Storm Shadow or JDAM, but it doesn’t mean they won’t try to stretch its significance.
Next year will certainly be an extremely eventful time where things are set to culminate with the heights of the American election cycle. It will be interesting to see whether the ruling establishment will finally be forced to cut the cord and throw Ukraine under the bus or whether they will dare risk some black swan escalation on the eve of the all-important and historic election. For now, Ukraine will continue to bleed for the gallery while the Russian war machine finishes calmly strapping on its armor in preparation for the killing blow.
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