A few days ago Russian war correspondent Sladkov made an interesting post where he showcased two new videos from Western/pro-Ukrainian military experts that go into detail in describing Russian tactics and military strengths in the Ukrainian conflict.
Excellent write up once again
Also congratulations on mearshimer referencing you in his latest piece multiple times in his sources.
Armed forces always reflect the culture and sociology of the society the come from. Westerners are more used to being led by a managerial class that is detached from reality and does not make any sacrifices, thus the western officer/NCO system where an officer never enters the barracks or the trenches. In Russia it's different at least to some degree. I mean, Putin himself spent his childhood and youth in a Leningrad kommunalka (St. Petersburg still has them, BTW), slugging it out with other lads in the backyards. Which western leader has a similar background?
Very interesting write-up. Well worth reading.
"But Russian units have such things down to company level or smaller, which grants the company much more autonomy as they have all their own information about the targets/objectives at their fingertips. They don’t have to call up to division command to get ISR data and subsequent “permission” to engage. They have their own drone teams telling them exactly where the enemy is, and can then designate their own approach on how to dislodge or assault him."
The irony is thick. Russians have always been accused of rigid central command structures demanding complete dependence of the tactical squads on central command for every decision, thus making their tactical manoeuvres slow and unwieldy, when in fact it seems the opposite - the American squad leader apparently has to request support centrally and wait for a decision for permission to engage.
We live in a world of lies and obfuscations. Virtually everything we think we know about the world, we don't. It falls to the individual to take the initiative to learn as he won't be taught.
The best strategic insight and commentary for the moment. Russian army has come to age, adapting and learning straight from the frontlines. I don’t know but a lot of similarities between independent Russian units and British SAS, got some similar training 50 years back, now completely outdated and also canon fodder.
I truly enjoy in your analysis my dear friend.
I think it is even worse on the US side than you think: I do believe lawyers have to be involved in arty and air strike decisions as well. At least in Iraq/Afghanistan. Not sure how long they'd keep that "feature" in an actual war. But it beggars belief to think about the Russian forces in Syria having any lawyers on hand when they're fixing to waste some ISIS dude.
Very informative article - I’m surprised by the honesty of McBeth who usually operates as a full blown propagandist in the most ludicrous way possible.
I think a lot of people in the West especially Europeans cannot fathom the sheer vastness of the field of operations in Eastern Ukraine. A full on centralized command on the operational level would be almost impossible to do. I firmly believe the Russian Army is the best in the world right now and would defeat a head on NATO assault no matter what they throw their way.
A great write up again. I think these types of articles are more enjoyable than the meat and potatoes facts of the day sitreps you put together (not that they are more/less important). The evolution of an army during war time has to be peak human performance as a species. In their own way the Ukrainians have shown an impressive adaptability as well.
I'm sure you don't have the info, but it would be just as fascinating to see how MoD is handling rotating and reshuffling their growing experienced NCOs and officers. They must be sprinkling them into the new armies being constructed right now. That sort of human capital logistics must be an art of it's own.
QUESTIONS: Thank you for collecting & presenting these videos & texts, which show great vulnerability for both offensive & defensive platoon privates, officers & NCOs, even to a leader such as Prigozhin.
A DIALOGUE CHALLENGE TO THE "GATTLING-GUN" MILITARY MINDED?
Note Well: I respect Russia is obligated in a humane way to protect the 15 million Ukrainians who speak Russian as their first language from ongoing violent putsch Ukraine attacks. I deeply respect Russia's commitment as a witness to the Minsk Accords.
Aren't we also responsible for convening & scheduling Both-sides-Now, Equal-time, Recorded & Published Dialogues as a contest of National Will both within & between all our citizens, organizations & nations, when we are effectively at war with another?
As a Canadian, I'm shocked at the level of cowardice in our nations as citizens, when we are arming, training & financing Ukrainians as well as providing logistic supports. There is effectively no national dialogue among citizens, nor our Oligarch $ captured finance, media, religion, institutions, governments, education, military-industrial, Legislative, Judicial & Pharma-med COMPLEX. Have we been reduced to heartless programmed robots?
a) mostly young men are putting their lives on the line to much death (50,000 Russian soldiers killed?) & injury (150,000 Russian soldiers with life-long injury?).
b) goading a perceived enemy to responsible action is more likely through information, intellectual engagement, intellectually engaged populations & as well as economic opportunity.
1) Why aren't there such as Russian Dialogue/Debate teams challenging the west Canada, USA, Britain, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, captured Germany etc. on their reasons for ongoing aggression in Ukraine? Do such debate trainees & spokespersons exist in either camp? Wouldn't such a heightened sphere of dialogue influence on populations, governments & corporations be more effective than most military actions
2) Why aren't their intense Both-sided, Equal-time, Recorded & Published 'Debates' (French 'de' = 'undo' + 'bate' = 'the-fight') where the honour & reputation of each nation is put on the line, as the logics & heart of the issue are discussed? Does soldier unquestioning submission to authority, not enable him to be honest about what he thinks & feels? Or does the soldier abandon his independent thinking & feeling for the sake of surviving a year of military duty?
3) Instead of spending trillions of dollars, as the Oligarch owned USA has spent from the Orange Revolution to Maidan to the present day SVO, why are not even a few million spent on 'intellectual' (Latin 'inter' = 'between' + 'legere' = 'to-choose') engagement. Does the military & soldier have so little connection to the actual people who are taxed or enslaved to produce this expendable wealth?
4) Are mostly men less afraid of being so easily gunned down, as an easy way out, compared with actually having to use their intellectual wit & humane responsibility in dialogue having to stand behind what one says & does?
Mohandas Gandhi stated, "Non-violence springs from love, cowardice from hate. Non-violence always suffers, cowardice would always inflict suffering. Non-violence & cowardice go ill together. I can imagine a fully armed man to be at heart a COWARD."
Both-sides-now, Equal-time, Recorded & Published Dialogue, part of all humanity's worldwide 'indigenous' (Latin 'self-generating') COUNCIL PROCESS, once a dialectic-right to raise issues positive for agreement or for Conflict Resolution. https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/d-participatory-structure/1-both-sides-now-equal-time-recorded-dialogues
CONVERTING SOCIAL MEDIA FROM 'MONO' TO 'DIALOGUE' . Why is there not a debate interest & process button not available on Social Media articles? https://sites.google.com/site/indigenecommunity/d-participatory-structure/1-communication-converting-social-media-from-mono-to-dialogue-libya
Good one. Thank you. About the only real 'technical' essay I've read on the subject of this conflict and it made good reading.
More of this would be good indeed.
We are - or I am anyway - sick and tired of all the 'high level' 'analysis' of the conflict. Telling what tactic is current and what the overall strategy is etc. All of which over the last two years has proven to be totally unreliable.
They just don't know. And, I think, cannot know.
But some detailed 'low level' analysis similar to this essay is surely well within the reach of those with some knowledge and expertise. Some backwards looks at actions that took place and how they went and why they went. That sort of thing perhaps.
There's many areas of course.
A favourite bugbear of mine for a long time has been 'bombardment' - or the apparent lack of it.
All the videos we get show one or occasionally two vehicles destroyed by pin point shots. That's not artillery in the classic sense. Dumb rounds. It is not GRAD fire, is it?
And we see that one vehicle go up and all the others apparently escape! And what's more we see troops disembark and scatter like ants all over the place. That's a successful 'insertion' I believe.
Why was there no bombardment of anti-personnel rounds at the point of disembarkment? Especially when there's been repeated use of exactly the same place for the same purpose?
When I say 'bombardment' I mean of course multiple simultaneous strikes by artillery pieces. Maybe two or three batteries firing as one. But minimum one battery.
I have never seen it. I thought it would be the thing I would most often see.
The nearest I have come to it was today when I saw for the first time a 'salvo', they called it, perhaps a better word than my 'bombardment' which I realise doesn't necessarily mean more than one round at a time, fired off. I didn't see it land. I've still never seen one land. But this was wonderfully impressive just seeing it fired, frightening to see it launched, terrifying to be at the other end I imagine.
I'd love some detailed 'analysis' of that aspect for instance. I am heartily sick of the Ritters et al and their monotous deliveries of the same uninformative messages.
Here's that video if you haven't seen it:
I think all militaries are built on their past history and traditions, and struggle to change fast enough, even when the pressure of war compels them to do so.
I have a good pal who served in the UK Royal Marines and obviously we discuss matters military from time to time. He said that in the British military only really the Paras and Marines were trained as aggressive "assault forces", the remainder primarly had a defensive orientation. This goes back to the Cold War of course where the operational posture was largely defensive, but is actually engrained in the British Army from way back. I doubt the USA is much different and its leading assualt units will be the Marines and Airborne, same with France with the Legion, Marines and Airborne. Germany always was highly geared to attack and counter attack but have one functioning Brigade just now. However the point is that most armies have very few actual "assault" units compared to the larger mass of troops. This is not to say the majority cannot "assault", just institutionally they are not geared up for the aggressive tempo and violence of that sort of operation.
This history also explains to an extent the difference between NATO and Russia in how it views the roles and balance between NCO and officiers. The Germans again take this to extremes and certainly in the Kaiser's army and the Wehrmacht, NCOs more often than not commanded platoons and officers were to be found at company level and above - in contrast to say US and UK practice.
The Cold War Soviet Army had to rely on conscripted and under-trained NCO;s because that was really all it had, and thus Officers were forced to be employed in larger numbers and undertake roles that would have been performed by NCOs in a western army. Being an NCO in the Soviet Army was no fun. The modern Russia army cannot in the space of a few decades transform itself to a western model, even if it thought hat was a good idea. It appears to recognise the need for a more experienced and professional NCO cadre but to an extent is constrained by its past.
Whose system works best? That is really the wrong question in my view. It is like saying the Wehrmacht was on a man for man and unit for unit basis superior to the Red Army in WW2 - and this was the case until at least 1944. However it was the Red Army that raised their flag on the Reichstag in 1945. To a point war is about exploiting your enemies weaknesses and mitigating your own. It is foolish for western commentators to claim that the NATO system is superior when it ignores the overall conditions in which armies are fighting. It might be a valid claim but then if Russia needs to build up 10 divisions in a year - which they have said they are doing - then maybe the Russia approach is correct.
Much written about the war in the West is ill informed and contains more than a small dose of anti-Russian racism. That is, the Russians are doing things differently because they are stupid and not as smart as we are. Sometimes this ubermensch attitude is hidden by a so called analysis, at others not at all. back in the day NATO feared the Soviet Army. I'd argue that sometime since 1989 the current crop of NATO leaders and commentators seem to have developed the belief that NATO actually fought and defeated the Soviets, and this has led to a strange superiority complex that was not evident back in the day.
Managerial and technical skills can be taught in school--as can the basic principles of leadership. Actual leadership, if it is learned at all, is learned in the real world--by watching, intelligently, how effective leaders operate. It takes a combination of intelligence, humility, instinct and humaneness--on top of managerial/technical competence. There is a special magic in well-led military units. It's something that is wondrous and very difficult to describe. It is almost as if everything becomes possible. There is so much potential for dynamism locked up in human beings that it is like an unstoppable force of nature when released. Praise be to the officer or NCO who releases it.
Those pics made me kind of miss Priogozhin. What a character.
Thank you Simplicius for this analysis.
I think you have highlighted why we see no "Big Arrow" offensives. Neither side has sufficient forces with the necessary training and practice, but the West forced an attempt at one anyway.