Zaluzhny Pens Oped for The Economist: "How to Win the War" - Analysis
The Economist featured a new Oped penned by none other than Valery Zaluzhny—Commander-in-Chief of the AFU—himself.
He makes some very interesting observations, not to mention one or two startling admissions, regarding the war.
The main slant of the article is diagnostic; it’s an attempt to find meaningful ways to reorient the AFU towards a winning direction, with the implied admission that this is not the direction they’re currently facing.
It presents a rare opportunity for us to get directly into the gears of the mastermind himself, rather than second and third hand info about what Ukraine’s high command may or may not be thinking.
He begins with this proposition:
Ukrainians have shown their willingness to lay down soul and body for their freedom. Ukraine not only halted an invasion by a far stronger enemy but liberated much of its territory. However, the war is now moving to a new stage: what we in the military call “positional” warfare of static and attritional fighting, as in the first world war, in contrast to the “manoeuvre” warfare of movement and speed. This will benefit Russia, allowing it to rebuild its military power, eventually threatening Ukraine’s armed forces and the state itself. What is the way out?
He goes on to intimate that beyond the bare essentials like shells and missiles, Ukraine needs a few key systems to regain some imagined ‘initiative’ against Russia. The primary one he starts with is airpower capabilities—to wit: F-16s.
“Control of the skies is essential to large-scale ground operations.”
That’s true, so far. As a note, as of this writing, there are new, unverified reports that the first batch of about ~5 F-16s have allegedly “arrived in Ukraine.”1 I’m very skeptical of this, but it’s worth mentioning to make the next point.
A different Ukrainian official recently espoused the view that 120-150 F-16s would allow Ukraine to “establish air dominance/superiority.”
These are bizarre and warped claims. Not only does Ukraine not have the infrastructural capability to even support or house that many F-16s, the base premise is absurd to begin with.
There appears to be a strange foundational notion amongst UA supporters that every aspect of the Ukrainian armed forces are “pound for pound” better than their Russian counterparts/equivalent. So the logic invariably follows that Ukraine only needs a fraction of a given category of systems in order to dominate Russia in that particular category.
For instance take tanks. We know Russia now produces anywhere between 800-1600 tanks per year, and still has thousands upon thousands of them left. Yet the deluded narrative continues to be that just a hundred or two “advanced NATO” tanks like Abrams or Leopards will somehow change the game and immediately neutralize the Russian advantage.
What if I were to tell you that even if Ukraine had 1000 Abrams/Leopards and Russia had only 500 legacy Soviet tanks, Russia would still win the tank battle (and the war for that matter)?
This basic reality is rooted in the following facts:
the actual effectiveness of main battle tanks on each side are marginal in advantage over one or the other. Thus it’s not the tank itself that matters, it’s the ecosystem in which the tank functions as part of a well-oiled military machine.
the Russian army has a far greater superiority and advantage in various essential integrative systems, networks, doctrines, logistics, local/tactical ISR, etc., which gives their tank forces a multiplier advantage on the ground even if they were “outnumbered” or “outgunned” by “superior” NATO armor. Recall the lone Russian T-80 that devastated the entire Ukrainian column (which had several tanks in it), as an example.
The most ignored fact of all: Russian tankers and troops in general are simply better. Better trained, better led, better morale, and have better awareness around them due to the above #2.
A quick clarification on point #1:
So many pundits and “experts” waste their time splitting hairs over every little system.
“Omg, the Leopard 1A5 has an EMES-18 fire control, it’s got 5 more pixels in resolution acuity over the T-72’s PNM-T thermals! That definitely means 1 Leopard can destroy 20 T-72s on its own!”
The harsh truth is that the various differences in modern systems of this sort are usually extremely marginal. A tank with Gen 1 thermals will easily destroy a tank with Gen 3 ones if he happens to spot him first, particularly if the first tank has a far more integrated ecosystem around him which enables him to have a better sense of surroundings and awareness of the flow of battle in general. The same goes for every other system.
The argument for airpower is the same. Why would 100-150 F-16s somehow dominate the over 1000+ fighter jets that Russia has? Who in their right mind can possibly think a single F-16 has a force multiplier of x10 against Russian jets?
The cold hard truth is this:
If Ukraine had 1,000 F-16s and Russia had only 250 of its own best fighter jets, Russia would likely still win the air war.
That’s because Russia has all the advantages in theater which augment your airpower. For instance:
AWACS integration, giving the jets far greater sight and ability to fly dark with radars off, making them far more ‘invisible’ from a distance (direct radiation onto a receiving craft is 3-4x more powerful than reflective radiation coming from your own radar bouncing waves from the ‘target’).
A vast multitude of integrated ground AD systems which give Russia “eyes” to the entire theater of operations, while Ukraine has comparatively limited and spotty vision due to their completely inferior (quantitatively and qualitatively) systems.
Once again: Russian pilots are far better. They have better training, better flight schools, far more flighthours, better morale, know their systems better (as opposed to flying a brand new F-16 you just learned last month), better coordination, and everything in between.
Some will say Ukraine has access to NATO AWACS too, except they can’t reach into the hottest areas. From the Polish border to Donbass is 1200km+ while AWACS radars top out at 400-600km, depending on object size and altitude.
So, forget the canard that giving Ukraine planes will somehow aid in the air war. It will do no such thing—the only use the planes can possibly have is for lobbing munitions from afar, like JDAMS and Storm Shadows. And sure that can help—though it won’t be a “game changer” of any sort, Ukraine will still lose handily—but call it what it is. Instead of lying about airpower, Zaluzhny and co. should just say we need these planes to launch munitions or to use them in defensive roles in shooting down incoming Russian cruise missile attacks. But of course, the point of the lie is to ‘sell’ a fantasy to the Western audience. They need to inspire hope and wonder by giving gullible Western publics some Hollywood vision of their majestic American F-16s blasting those Commie Bogeys out of the skies, just like Top Gun! Oorah!
The fact is, it’s Russia that has the qualitative edge, and the pound for pound edge. Want proof? It’s Zelensky himself who claimed the AFU had 1 million men total a while back, while Russia started the entire SMO with only about 70k men. The entire time Russia has been fighting vastly outnumbered in Ukraine, yet dealing them anywhere between 5:1 and 10:1 casualty disparities, in Russia’s favor.
That’s why no amount of Western aid can help Ukraine. If the U.S. gave them 1000 HIMARS launchers and the entire stockpile of 5,000+ Abrams tanks, Ukraine would still lose—it would just take longer.
I believe the perception comes from the fact that Ukraine appears at times to carry outsize power—but it’s misleading. For instance, having no naval fleet they’re perceived as having pushed out or “nullified” Russia’s “entire massive Black Sea fleet.” A tiny fleet of 20-40 HIMARS trucks (counting Mars IIs and M270s) has likewise “wreaked havoc on Russian infrastructure!”
But what this ignores is the fact that Russia is still fighting this conflict with one hand behind its back. This fact is no clearer than today when we are witness to how a “real war” can be fought, by choice, in the Israeli scenario. Note how Israel deliberately destroys all Gaza’s hospitals and infrastructure in order to entirely cripple the enemy.
One must realize that Ukraine still has functioning infrastructure allowing their soldiers to be evac’d and patched up, have food and clothes and shelter, amongst other things. Imagine if Russia went fully “no holds barred” and destroyed all Ukrainian infrastructure. The AFU would collapse because they would have nothing left to even manage their vast losses. Similarly, Russia could force all social/societal infrastructure to collapse by striking cities as Israel does, which would crater the AFU’s entire “back end,” leaving them logistically paralyzed.
Thus, the point is Ukraine is able to manage the “perception” of having some outsize effects on select categories of engagement, but it’s an illusory one only because Russia has chosen to fight a gentleman’s war. And even then, as I said, Russia has inflicted disproportionate losses while fighting outnumbered for a majority of the time.
That may be a bit discursive, but it was important to establish a base grounding in why some of Zaluzhny’s propositions are rooted in fantastical delusion.
Getting back to his article, he next makes some strange and impractical requests:
So he wants drones that shoot nets to stop Russian drones. Then he asks for signal-emitting decoys to “attract Russian glide bombs.” That doesn’t even make sense. Russian glide bombs are GPS/Glonass powered—there’s no “decoy” that can “attract” them. I can only assume he’s not referring to the famous Fab-500M62 UMPK but rather the KAB style bombs which are laser guided, and some sort of laser emitter can theoretically throw them off—but they’re not really glide bombs.
Next he asks for more EW systems while admitting Russia has the EW edge in the war. That’s all fairly straightforward so we’ll move on to the next request:
The third task is counter-battery fire: defeating enemy artillery. In this war, as in most past wars, artillery, rocket and missile fire make up 60-80% of all the military tasks. When we first received Western guns last year, we were quite successful at locating and striking Russian artillery. But the effectiveness of weapons such as Excalibur, a gps-guided American shell, has declined dramatically owing to improved Russian electronic warfare.
Now that’s a major admission. Straight from the horse’s mouth itself we see that even Excalibur shells are being jammed out. Recall all those Dr. Philip Karber West Point talks stating specifically this, which some scoffed at.
And it’s true, I don’t see many Excalibur hits anymore from released AFU videos. I had chalked it up to just low supply of the expensive shell, but apparently they’ve been made near useless by Russian jamming—as has the JDAM.
That’s why I’ve said in the past Russia’s Krasnopol shell is superior: it has both GPS/Glonass and laser-guided modes, though its range does leave much to be desired compared to Excalibur, but it makes up for it with versatility.
Meanwhile, Russia’s own counter-battery fire has improved. This is largely thanks to its use of Lancet loitering munitions, which work alongside reconnaissance drones, and its increasing production of precision-guided shells that can be aimed by ground spotters. Despite the dismissive view of some military analysts, we cannot belittle the effectiveness of Russian weapons and intelligence in this regard.
Well, well, well. Not only does he appear to reference the very Krasnopol here, but even gives some deserved dues.
For now, we have managed to achieve parity with Russia through a smaller quantity of more accurate firepower. But this may not last. We need to build up our local gps fields—using ground-based antennas rather than just satellites—to make our precision-guided shells more accurate in the face of Russian jamming. We need to make greater use of kamikaze drones to strike Russian artillery. And we need our partners to send us better artillery-reconnaissance equipment that can locate Russian guns.
Of course he has to add a little puffery on top to help balance out the dangerous pessimism of praise toward Russian capabilities. How can his ‘smaller quantity’ systems be ‘more accurate’ when he just admitted that Excalibur shells are being jammed? Recall that he’s referring to counterbattery war here, so we’re talking about artillery and SPGs. What other system besides the Excalibur might he mean that’s given him this claimed ‘parity’? I assume HIMARS, which is the only thing Ukraine has been effectively using in the counterbattery role, but even that has drastically gone down recently, while Russia continues killing heaps of Ukrainian batteries each day.
The next request is another impractical whopper:
The fourth task is mine-breaching technology. We had limited and outdated equipment for this at the start of the war. But even Western supplies, such as Norwegian mine-clearing tanks and rocket-powered mine-clearing devices, have proved insufficient given the scale of Russian minefields, which stretch back 20km in places. When we do breach minefields, Russia quickly replenishes them by firing new mines from a distance.
Firstly he confirms what we’ve wrote about here for a long time: Russia’s remote mining (RAAM/FASCAM) capabilities which quickly replenish minefields by firing hundreds of them through specialized MLRS trucks like the ISDM Zemledeliye system:
Technology is the answer. We need radar-like sensors that use invisible pulses of light to detect mines in the ground and smoke-projection systems to conceal the activities of our de-mining units. We can use jet engines from decommissioned aircraft, water cannons or cluster munitions to breach mine barriers without digging into the ground. New types of tunnel excavators, such as a robot which uses plasma torches to bore tunnels, can also help.
Read the above again then ask yourself, how realistic does this all sound? Just picture the conversation:
Uncle Sam: “Sorry, Valery, the people are a bit tired of this whole charade, and the coffers have run dry.”
Zaluzhny: “No, no, trust me. We just need this one last small thing, then victory is ours, truly, I promise!”
Uncle Sam: “Sigh..what is it?”
Zaluzhny: “We just need special lasers to shoot mines in the ground, jet engines and water cannons to clear munitions…”
Uncle Sam: “…is that all?”
Zaluzhny: “…and, and…giant tunnel excavators, oh and robots as well, which use plasma boring torches to—”
Uncle Sam: “Get the hell out!”
I mean come on, folks. This is turning into patent parody for god’s sakes! Is there anyone sane in that country anymore?
Giant robots with plasma torches to bore tunnels? What the hell are you talking about, you’ve got 300k++ dead and a country that’s nearing collapse. This is really the stage we’re at? We’re scraping the bottom of the barrel here.
His final proposal is to help build up Ukrainian reserves:
My fifth and final priority is to build up our reserves. Russia has failed to capitalise on its hefty manpower advantage because Vladimir Putin is worried that a general mobilisation might spark a political crisis, and because Russia cannot train and equip enough people. However, our capacity to train reserves on our own territory is also limited. We cannot easily spare soldiers who are deployed to the front. Moreover, Russia can strike training centres. And there are gaps in our legislation that allow citizens to evade their responsibilities.
Here it seems that he’s talking about a pure advantage on a societal basis, i.e. total available manpower, rather than deployed manpower. He’s saying that Russia has much more “potential” manpower, but Putin is “too afraid” to call it up by way of mobilization. The inference is that if Putin ever did call them up, Ukraine would face an end game scenario.
The funniest—or saddest, for that matter—part is his solution to this problem. He calls it “combat internship”, but read what it actually entails:
We are trying to fix these problems. We are introducing a unified register of draftees, and we must expand the category of citizens who can be called up for training or mobilisation. We are also introducing a “combat internship”, which involves placing newly mobilised and trained personnel in experienced front-line units to prepare them.
Wait, so your solution is putting fresh untrained recruits into FRONTLINE COMBAT—isn’t that… the literal definition of “cannonfodder?”
You have to know how to read between the lines. He’s trying to jockey his words in such a way as to appeal to the Western audience he’s aiming at, without saying anything too ‘shocking’. What he’s basically said here is that we have a massive manpower problem on the front due to losses, so to alleviate it, we’re sending freshly mobilized, completely untrained troops into frontline combat positions (where they typically die within hours).
He ends with:
Russia should not be underestimated. It has suffered heavy losses and expended a lot of ammunition. But it will have superiority in weapons, equipment, missiles and ammunition for a considerable time. Its defence industry is increasing its output, despite unprecedented sanctions. Our nato partners are dramatically increasing their production capacity, too. But it takes at least a year to do this and, in some cases, such as aircraft and command-and-control systems, two years.
A positional war is a prolonged one that carries enormous risks to Ukraine’s armed forces and to its state. If Ukraine is to escape from that trap, we will need all these things: air superiority, much-improved electronic-warfare and counter-battery capabilities, new mine-breaching technology and the ability to mobilise and train more reserves. We also need to focus on modern command and control—so we can visualise the battlefield more effectively than Russia and make decisions more quickly—and on rationalising our logistics while disrupting Russia’s with longer-range missiles. New, innovative approaches can turn this war of position back into one of manoeuvre.
He thinks a few mine breachers and laser-robots can turn this war back into a maneuver one for Ukraine? Sorry, but that ship has sailed. The only time you ever had a “maneuver war” was when Russia had 120k total men in theater while you had 400-700k at the time of the Kharkov offensive. Once Russia reached manpower parity and collapsed the lines, your maneuver dreams were done for good.
The above concluded the main ‘public appeal’ portion of his essay at The Economist. However, at the bottom they linked to another “more detailed” report he also wrote, which serves as a sort of more technical supplementary manual or companion piece.
This longer, 9-page writeup is entitled:
MODERN POSITIONAL WARFARE AND HOW TO WIN IN IT
It is basically just a longer form of the same Economist article, but goes into more explanatory detail for each section, using more technical language, etc.
Thus, we don’t need to comb through it in the same detail as the above because it covers much of the same ground. However, there are a few areas where it allows us to expand on Zaluzhny’s thoughts or make new insights into his strategic approach to the remainder of the conflict.
The first truly significant statement he makes is the following, regarding the counterbattery war:
Counter-battery is becoming an important component of the armed confrontation. And despite the statements of some so-called "military analysts", various publications, including in the Russian media, regarding the gradual weakening of Russia, we have no right to belittle the importance and capabilities of Russian weapons, its ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) and countermeasures, the ability of the military-industrial complex of the aggressor state to supply the troops with a significant number of both outdated and modern weapons and equipment. We must realistically assess threats, analyse experience, and draw conclusions.
Here he rebukes all the people downplaying Russia’s technological capabilities in the area of ISR and MIC in general.
He goes on to explain how the Excalibur allegedly gave the AFU miraculous superiorities at first, but quickly dwindled in effectiveness:
Immediately after receiving Western missile and artillery weapons, the Armed Forces of Ukraine gained a significant superiority and significant success in counter-battery. Thus, precision guided munition e.g. Excalibur (155 mm shell) proved to be quite effective in the fight against self-propelled artillery and counter-battery radars. However, over time, their capabilities have significantly decreased, since the targeting system (using GPS) is very sensitive to the influence of enemy electronic warfare, which leads to a loss of precision of ammunition.
The enemy quickly learned to apply new tactics: dispersal (by guns); fire from the maximum range; use of new electronic warfare assets (the“Pole 21” electronic countermeasure system), etc. Also, the enemy quite widely and effectively began to use the Lancet loitering munition with target “illumination”, the Orlan, Zala UAVs and others for counter-battery, countering which is quite difficult.
Well, duh. That’s the whole point of warfare is you’re supposed to adapt to your enemy. This is why I’ll never understand people who cheerlead the occasional freshman ‘success’ of a new wunderwaffe Ukraine has received. New systems will always give an army problems initially, but a truly top notch force can learn how to counter them. Russia did that—straight from Zaluzhny’s own mouth.
It’s also interesting that he appears to reference a new kind of Lancet “with target illumination.” I’m not 100% certain, but it seems like he might be referring to the new AI based ones, and their ability to find or perhaps ‘illuminate’ the target on their own.
The next series has one of the most important admissions of all:
In order to maintain and increase the duel superiority, the russians, through the use of outdated artillery systems (D-1, D-20, etc.), significantly increased the artillery density and its ability to massively use conventional ammunition.
Firstly he states Russia has countered Ukraine by basically saturating the battlefield with a bunch of “obsolete” legacy systems. But inherent to this is an odd admission: he’s basically saying that Russia’s WW2-era artillery (D-1 is from ~1943 and D-20 ~1955) is still good enough to somehow overpower all your fancy latest NATO ‘guided’ capabilities? So by inference that means they’re not very “outdated” then, are they, if you can still find novel usages for them.
The enemy has also increased the production and intensity of the use of 122 mm Krasnopol precision guided munition, which is aimed at targets by target illumination with a rangefinder from ground-based observation posts. As a countermeasure to the enemy, we were forced to utilize rocket artillery systems e.g. "HIMARS" to defeat his artillery.
So he admits the Krasnopol is so powerful, Ukraine had to reorient its HIMARS just toward trying to deal with it? But here’s the biggest kicker of all:
However, a significant part of the existing set of missiles was utilized for hitting these targets (artillery, MLRS, etc.). Currently, we have managed to achieve a notional parity with the numerically prevailing enemy artillery due to a smaller number of higher-quality (accurate) fires.
Firstly, the word ‘notional’ basically means ‘theoretical’ or even ‘imaginary’. That’s important to keep in mind.
But this is a much bigger admission than it seems. For months analysts discussed the strange reorientation of Ukraine’s HIMARS and whether it was by choice—or what in general was responsible for it. That is, months ago, HIMARS began to be used very sparingly for the real purpose it was designed for, hitting important strategic/operational level targets in the rear, and began instead to be used almost exclusively in a counterbattery role.
This is the first ever admission—let alone high level one—that finally settles the argument. He’s saying that the majority of their HIMARS missile stock, i.e. the M30A GMLRS rockets had to be critically reoriented toward staving off Russia’s artillery advantage.
Of course he talks of the “imaginary”, I mean “notional”, parity achieved, but I believe this is just a salesman’s pitch and talking point in one. Sure it’s had some modest successes, but to call it parity would be parody. Either way, this admission may seem like a small thing, but to us analysts who’ve broken our brains over these matters for a long time, it’s the equivalent to a prospector finding gold. Such gems definitively confirmed from the levels of the highest office give us extreme insights which can be extrapolated outward, illuminating many other ancillary unknowns of the battlefield.
Moving on, the next important section he dilates on is that of electronic warfare. All I’d like to make mention of here is that he names the specific systems which Russia has been utilizing, and it recalled to me the article I did long ago with these exact systems:
The main advantages of russian electronic warfare equipment also include the establishment of serial production of the so-called "trench electronic warfare" ("Silok", "Piton", "Harpoon", "Piroed", "Strizh", "Lisochok"), which the tactical level of the russian troops is saturated with.
Despite the fact that since the beginning of large-scale armed aggression, the enemy has lost a significant part of this equipment, today it continues to maintain a significant electronic warfare superiority. Along the Kupyansk and Bakhmut axes, the enemy actually established a layered electronic warfare system, the elements of which constantly change their location
Some may recall one of my very first articles here which actually went into detail of just about all those named systems above:
It’s interesting to note because back then these systems were still very speculative, and though I had cited examples of real usages by Russian troops, it was still impossible to determine how truly widespread they had gotten.
But Zaluzhny confirms that these systems have not only gone into “mass production” but that Russian forces are “saturated” with these systems on a ‘tactical level’, which basically means at the trench level. And it goes to show why you don’t see almost any videos of Ukrainian drones taking out Russian trenches in the same way you see endless Russian drones devastating Ukrainian ones. This is good confirmation that Russian trenches are now well protected by a variety of such systems. If you’ve read my article above, you’ll note these systems are automated and operate even while the soldiers are sleeping.
Zaluzhny goes on to name several new Ukrainian EW systems which he claims have nearly achieved ‘parity’ with Russia, jamming satellite communications along the entire frontline. He states that this is one of the chief contributors to the ‘deadlock’ which prevents either side from advancing, and has thus consigned the conflict to a ‘positional’ stalemate war of attrition.
Russian frontline reports do speak of decent Ukrainian EW/jamming capabilities, but to pretend he’s reached “parity” with the most powerful signals/EW superpower in the world is just more schlocky grandstanding for his Western masters.
But we finally get to the entree of his appeal: the prescriptive portion.
The need to avoid the transition to a positional form of hostilities, such as the "trench war" of 1914-1918, necessitates the search for new and non-trivial approaches to breaking the military parity with the enemy. The main idea of the way out of the current situation can be presented illustratively in the picture.
He presents the following two images as remedies to breaking the enigma of modern maneuver warfare:
(apologies for the quality, as that’s how they came)
He goes on to prescribe step by step how to break the modern positional hostilities trap:
Gain air superiority:
This goes through the previously outlined ideas, which are: overloading Russian AD with drone saturation attacks; hunting down Russian drones with drones that fire nets; blinding Russian drones with strobes; using radiation simulators to dissuade Russian fighter-bombers from launching glide-bombs.
He goes into more detail on this one, though I’m still not quite grasping what he means:
Use of radiation simulators of the medium-range anti-aircraft missile system to target illumination stations in close proximity to the contact line in order to reduce the effectiveness of the use of glide guided bombs against our troops when assuming offensive (due to the fact that carrier aircraft will launch guided bombs from the maximum possible ranges) and reduce the manned aviation intensity due to the pilots' refusal to conduct sorties;
What it sounds like he’s saying is he wants to use cheap medium-range AD radars brought up much closer to the frontline which can spoof actual AD systems—which themselves cannot be risked that close to the frontline and have to be held back in the rear. This, he believes, will make Russian Su-34 pilots clam up and “refuse to conduct their sorties” because their friendly radar systems will detect what appears to be AD systems on the frontline.
To some extent he has a point because Russian Su-34s which launch glide-bombs must necessarily fly very high for the glide-bomb to get distance. Thus they are apt to be illuminated by radars on the contact line. Theoretically this could work, but, I would think that Russian radar ops would be able to distinguish the signal from a ‘simulator’ versus a known registered AD system.
Secondly, the theory doesn’t quite make sense because to hit targets on the contact line Russian Su-34s launch their payload from 25-50km in the rear. There are not many AD missile systems that can reach that far as that’s already getting out of SHORAD range, and Russia knows Ukraine wouldn’t dare put an S-300 or something like that right on the contact line. To clarify, the radar beam would reach and notify Russian jets, but the missiles on the platform typically can only go a tiny fraction of the distance that the radar can ‘detect’ things at. In short: Russian pilots would likely know it’s a bluff. Because being detected 25-50km behind your own lines is not the same as being shot down there.
And lastly it’s a moot point because even if all the above could succeed, that would hardly give Ukraine an “air superiority” or anything even close to it. Nor would it single handedly turn the tide of positional warfare. But that’s why he continues on.
He goes into counterbattery and mine breaching again. Here he doesn’t add much different to before, which basically just sounds like “improve everything.” Well of course, if you could literally turn the army you have into a completely different army, then you could win the imaginary war. But that’s the problem, it’s nigh impossible to completely redesign your army from scratch in the midst of a brutal war you’re losing, with resources you don’t have nor will ever get.
His only useful idea is to “build up GPS fields” near the frontline to increase accuracy of things like Excalibur. This can be done cheaply with some GPS stations, I suppose. But the issue is that will only help in hitting targets right on the contact line. It won’t really do anything for operational depth targets 20km to the rear, which is what Excalibur is really for, as during its traverse of that distance, it will again be in EW-contested airspace with no friendly GPS stations to course-correct it. The same applies to JDAMS, by the way, which have also been mostly written off as worthless at this point, as Russian EW has simply killed their accuracy.
For the breaching section, I’m almost too speechless to even comment on this absurdity:
Use of a mini tunnel excavator with a drill, Rapid Burrowing Robot (RBR), empty hoses for the injection of gaseous or liquid explosives, missiles with a fuel-air explosive for breaching mine barriers; use of anti-drone guns to counter enemy reconnaissance UAVs, which will increase the level of obstacle-clearing detachments (teams) concealment while breaching mine barriers.
This is all I could find on the “RBR”:
Someone help me out here. Is he suggesting to burrow under the battlefield with plasma bots? I’m still scratching my head.
He doesn’t add much in the next section, so I’ll skip to the next eye-opening admission:
The russian armed forces spend a large number of missiles and ammunition, but it should be recognized that some preparations for the war were done, so russia at this time retains and is able to maintain a superiority in weapons and equipment, missiles and ammunition for a considerable time, while the capabilities of the military industry are increasing, despite the introduction by the world's leading countries of unprecedented sanctions against the aggressor state.
Remember how unprepared and unprofessional pro-Ukrainian commentators claimed Russia was?
In the end, he makes the final most important assessment:
At the same time, the prolongation of a war, as a rule, in most cases, is beneficial to one of the parties to the conflict. In our particular case, it is the russian federation, as it gives it the opportunity to reconstitute and build up its military power
For all those people always asking about whose side is time on—here you hear it from the Commander-in-Chief of the AFU’s own mouth: time is on Russia’s side.
Overall, the gist of his final prescriptive analysis is that: “we need our army to be a completely different, new army in order to defeat Russia.”
The problem with this is that every single one of the points he specifies are things that Russia, too, is actively improving on and building up its military potential in.
So for all the new ‘drones’ or EW systems he requests, for all the ability to breach or expand the range of his firepower, Russia too is doing every single one of those things. And its capacity to do those things is far greater than that of Ukraine and even all of its NATO partners combined.
That’s not to knock him, he’s doing everything he can and is supposed to be doing—trying his best. But he is foolish if he thinks that Russia is sitting still. It too is designing new ways to get out of the positional muddle, and its resources for doing so are much, much greater.
The truth is, Zaluzhny and Ukraine’s most ‘optimal’ hope is not to break the stalemate—it’s to keep a stalemate as status quo. Meaning, the trajectory is that Russia will break the stalemate and the AFU’s back, at the current rate. And were he to be given all those things he asked for, Zaluzhny’s best hope is merely to neutralize Russia to an ongoing stalemate, at best.
The vast majority of his proposal is wishful thinking. He’s talking about things like reforming the entire mobilization system to streamline it into an American inspired selective service framework. It makes you want to grab him by the shoulders and shake him while yelling: “Wake up!” What alternate reality is he living in?
But I think much of it is a feigned facade of ‘strength’ for the Western audience; it’s the only logical explanation.
Also, it’s interesting that his entire proposal leaves out a lot of the asymmetric-hybrid-5GW warfare elements that his own alleged idol—Gerasimov—inadvertently popularized. The fact is, Ukraine can only stand even the slightest chance of winning this war by doubling down and going “all in” on 5GW/guerilla style warfare. Yet all of his ideas proceed from the standpoint of fighting a peer vs. peer superpower confrontation. Sure, Ukraine may have a lot of ‘expendable human capital’, but let’s not kid ourselves, a country that has 20 planes vs. 5000, zero navy, etc., is not going to win a direct kinetic confrontation fighting in Napoleonic style.
He should be gearing everything toward a General Giap / Vietcong-style approach, but instead he’s still fantasizing about winning a mass-artillery land war against Russia, begging for a handful of fighter jets to “establish air superiority” against a country with the 2nd largest and most powerful airforce in the world. Is that a joke?
Where’s the theorycrafting on hybrid, informational and propaganda war, economic and asymmetric systems, etc.? Or were the plasma robots and “radar simulators” supposed to represent that?
Good luck with that, but I don’t think your ‘tutor’, Gerasimov, is impressed.
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❗️Rybar: About the arrival of the F-16 to Ukraine
That night, two trucks carrying two dismantled American F-16 fighters entered Ukraine from Poland. As of November 2, five aircraft of this type have already been transported to Ukraine.
▪️On the one hand, deliveries of American fighters have been expected for a long time. They talked about coordinating the transfer of the F-16 back in the summer. But on the other hand, Western countries supplied the Armed Forces of Ukraine with what they needed in the quantities that made it possible to maintain the conflict.
▪️Their appearance now indirectly indicates the growing problems of the Ukrainian air force in ensuring airspace security. Enemy aviation is becoming less and less, and there is nowhere else to replenish it.
▪️And so that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are not left without aircraft at all thanks to the work of the VKS, Air Defense and Black Sea Fleet, deliveries of F-16 have begun. And their primary goal will be to hunt the most dangerous targets for them - the MiG-31 and A-50.
▪️American fighters can be equipped with various types of air-to-air missiles of the AIM series. The latest version of the AIM-120D has a launch range of 180 km.
🔻However, despite more modern equipment and weapons than on old Soviet models, this is ordinary equipment (from which there is no need to make some kind of wunderwaffle). Moreover, the radiation emanating from the F-16 is much more powerful.
And this simplifies both the search for aircraft through the use of the A-50 AWACS aircraft, and their subsequent fire defeat.