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Thread: Great Power contentions

  1. #451

    Default Re: Great Power contentions



    1. We can see that the Ukrainians have generally maintained something less than parity across the fronts, counting with 3 BTG-equivalents per UA brigade.
    2. The major exception on the map is the Kherson front, making reports of a planned renewed Russian offensive toward Mykolaiv very perplexing.
    3. The defense has had the hardest time between Izyum and Severodonetsk, fitting for the offense's axis of concentration, yet still far from a breakthrough.
    4. Kharkiv oblast west of the Donets is steadily being cleared of opposition.
    5. AFAICT around a third of existing Ukrainian ground forces are being held as reserve or garrison out of the immediate AO.

    One caveat is that Schlottman can't locate 15 Russian BTGs, which he lumps into the Donetsk axis. At some points there were reportedly twice as many BTGs near Kherson as this current map specifies, and I wonder if some aren't still there. Still, the picture here doesn't radically change even if we instead assign the missing BTGs evenly across sectors.
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  2. #452
    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    Yeah, I saw this graphic come out today too, it is interesting, but I wonder how those BTGs translate into troops and equipment as both sides are undoubtedly heavily attritted with the attackers more so.

    The Russians certainly maintain the advantage still in numbers though that doesn't seem to be counting for much so far.

    The limited Ukrainian counter-attacks NE of Kharkiv are promising and into the forested type of terrain the Russians have shown a lack of ability so far in their earlier attacks in the North and Kiev suburbs.

    Overall, I hope that the Ukrainians can continue to hold and make limited counter-attacks in the Kharkiv area and affect some sort of more significant counter-offensive to retake Kherson and threaten the land bridge to Crimea.

    The Russian and Transnistrian threats seem to me to be a distraction to keep Ukrainian forces tied down. The loss of the Moskva, yesterday's drone attacks against the Russian patrol boats and the overall pummeling that Russian marines seem to have taken doing normal infantry work in other offenses make an amphibious landing at the extreme end of the theater extremely unlikely.

    Russia's potential declaration of war to enable using conscripts won't likely change their capabilities on the ground unless Russia intends to pause and try and do an attack next year after retraining and mustering resources. I do think it may make the general population there, a bit more politically 'aware' as conscripts are sent into a poorly executed meatgrinder of a war. Though given the overall support for the war I doubt this will create any grassroots opposition so long as the media is state controlled.
    Ukraine on the other considering using territorial forces outside of their oblasts is an indicator that they too have reached their full manpower potential and will need to husband personnel and resources carefully in counter attacks and determining where to do positional versus mobile defenses.

    Gotta say I'm glad that the Germans have finally got on board with heavier weapons, 50x Gepards ADA, 7x PzH200s are a great start and I hope to see those Leo1s and Marder1s sent down the road too. They may be less capable than modern MBTs but a Leo1A5 is still capable of killing most Russian MBTs, though I see its use more in the infantry support role as it should still be capable of withstanding auto-cannon fire across the frontal arc.
    More importantly though, these would be great steppingstones toward non-soviet derived equipment types outside of what Ukrainian home industry produces which makes it easier for further donations down the road.

    Here's an interesting video by the Austrian military academy breaking down the ambush of the Russian BTG from many week's ago. It has English subtitles too.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNeXbNY3HYQ

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  3. #453

    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    Quote Originally Posted by spmetla View Post
    Yeah, I saw this graphic come out today too, it is interesting, but I wonder how those BTGs translate into troops and equipment as both sides are undoubtedly heavily attritted with the attackers more so.

    The Russians certainly maintain the advantage still in numbers though that doesn't seem to be counting for much so far.

    The limited Ukrainian counter-attacks NE of Kharkiv are promising and into the forested type of terrain the Russians have shown a lack of ability so far in their earlier attacks in the North and Kiev suburbs.

    Overall, I hope that the Ukrainians can continue to hold and make limited counter-attacks in the Kharkiv area and affect some sort of more significant counter-offensive to retake Kherson and threaten the land bridge to Crimea.

    The Russian and Transnistrian threats seem to me to be a distraction to keep Ukrainian forces tied down. The loss of the Moskva, yesterday's drone attacks against the Russian patrol boats and the overall pummeling that Russian marines seem to have taken doing normal infantry work in other offenses make an amphibious landing at the extreme end of the theater extremely unlikely.

    Russia's potential declaration of war to enable using conscripts won't likely change their capabilities on the ground unless Russia intends to pause and try and do an attack next year after retraining and mustering resources. I do think it may make the general population there, a bit more politically 'aware' as conscripts are sent into a poorly executed meatgrinder of a war. Though given the overall support for the war I doubt this will create any grassroots opposition so long as the media is state controlled.
    Ukraine on the other considering using territorial forces outside of their oblasts is an indicator that they too have reached their full manpower potential and will need to husband personnel and resources carefully in counter attacks and determining where to do positional versus mobile defenses.

    Gotta say I'm glad that the Germans have finally got on board with heavier weapons, 50x Gepards ADA, 7x PzH200s are a great start and I hope to see those Leo1s and Marder1s sent down the road too. They may be less capable than modern MBTs but a Leo1A5 is still capable of killing most Russian MBTs, though I see its use more in the infantry support role as it should still be capable of withstanding auto-cannon fire across the frontal arc.
    More importantly though, these would be great steppingstones toward non-soviet derived equipment types outside of what Ukrainian home industry produces which makes it easier for further donations down the road.

    Here's an interesting video by the Austrian military academy breaking down the ambush of the Russian BTG from many week's ago. It has English subtitles too.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNeXbNY3HYQ
    I wonder if the Ukrainian Kharkiv push is aiming at gaining the approach to Belgorod. It would make some sense operationally, as the ability to readily bombard military installations around Belgorod would provide high ROI in Russian supply disruption and materiel losses. Moreover, attacking Russian territory is a strategic beacon that by the nature of the Kremlin's war forces a disproportionate response, implying diversion of manpower from their central effort to correct the insult.

    On the other hand, the Ukrainians would have to be smart and capable enough to work harder than almost any army in history to avoid civlian losses.
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  4. #454
    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    I can see the Ukrainians continuing UAV and Commando strikes in the Belogrod area but think that dedicating any artillery to things on the other side of the border beyond staging areas and others stuff directly supporting Russian efforts to the South is probably not a good use of resources. Ukraine has limited amounts of these assets and they need to be focused at wherever they are achieving decisive operations. There's also the factor that if Ukraine tries and extend the war into Russia with ground forces (I'm including artillery in this) that may be an escalation that makes NATO nations more wary of sending weapons so that it's not their equipment being used to 'expand the war' into Russia proper.

    I think the Ukrainians would be happy with a restoration of the border there and then establish new border defenses, having a truly hot border area is probably beyond the scope for what Ukraine wants for their national objectives or regaining their own territory. I think the current fires that are popping up all over Russia, probably due to a fair number of saboteurs is having the strategic affects you hint want.

    I think the current Kharkiv push is more to just secure that city again for the most part, it is a major industrial center, especially in military production (tanks and their parts especially). Also, as the second largest city of Ukraine it would allow some internally displaced people to return home despite the danger and start somewhat in rebuilding their lives within the limits of the ongoing war.
    Additionally, if they are able to exend that push farther East they threaten the lines supplying Russian forces South at Izyum, though Ukrainian capabilities in the attacks have shown only a limited scale so far so likely this is beyond what they can do.
    Last edited by spmetla; 05-05-2022 at 05:02.

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    Stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there's nothing we can do.
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  5. #455

    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    That makes sense, no Battle of Kursk for Summer 2023. There is another way to trigger Stavka and damage logistical chains.
    https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/ar...n-fall-ukraine

    AP estimates 600+ killed in the Mariupol theater bombing.

    This isn't a good look for the US right now.
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  6. #456
    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    Taking Crimea would be interesting but I think the article overstates how isolated it is. Russia can still resupply by air and sea if that bridge is cut, however were Ukraine to try and take it they'd be also operating off a single road network over the isthmus without the ability to resupply by sea or air. Additionally, after eight years of Russia rule, this is likely to be more Russian home turf than Ukrainian as any pro-Kyiv folks likely have left in that time period.

    For the Solomon islands, I think the US statement is a nothing burger. It's the usual "all options are on the table" when we all know that's not the case. I imagine this is more for protecting the executive branch from Republican attacks for letting the PRC expand by sea again as the atoll expansions happened under Obama's watch previously. Also, in the Australia, UK, and US alliance only the US is currently positioned to make any threats as Australia and the UK are in no way able to rattle a saber credibly at the PRC.

    As for it being a red-line, I don't think that it'd be one for military action however it'd be one for intelligence action and build up of military infrastructure to contain any protentional Chinese threat. The most overt action I could see would be the old trying to overthrow the now 'hostile government' of the Solomons by fomenting the already popular opposition to them. This type of action though is probably unlikely at least from the US side as our past experiments in this ended poorly and once again would show the double standard of the international order in favor the US and friends. The location is the exact same as the Imperial Japanese used to try and cut the Pacific in half and separate the US from Australia so a Chinese military presence there would be something dangerous if conflict ever broke out.

    "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"
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    Four stage strategy from Yes, Minister:
    Stage one we say nothing is going to happen.
    Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
    Stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there's nothing we can do.
    Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it's too late now.

  7. #457

    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    Quote Originally Posted by spmetla View Post
    Taking Crimea would be interesting but I think the article overstates how isolated it is. Russia can still resupply by air and sea if that bridge is cut, however were Ukraine to try and take it they'd be also operating off a single road network over the isthmus without the ability to resupply by sea or air. Additionally, after eight years of Russia rule, this is likely to be more Russian home turf than Ukrainian as any pro-Kyiv folks likely have left in that time period.
    There is exactly one scenario for the recapture of Crimea along the lines in that essay. I don't agree with the author's suggestion that Ukraine would besiege Crimea, in part for your noted challenge of interdicting Russian naval resupply (at least of Sevastopol).

    It's an incredibly complex and conditional scenario, so it's hard to imagine Ukrainian command would really be planning for it.

    But let's say Ukraine can ensure the neutralization of the Kerch bridge shortly before or during the operation. The operation would most likely be executed during a distracting Russian offensive phase in the Eastern theater. For it to succeed Ukrainian forces would have to have a significant bridgehead into Crimea - which is almost an island - by around D+3.

    1. A very violent thrust right toward Kherson, supported by partisans in the city (to preserve the bridge most of all), with Russian forces extended north of Kherson pinned by simultaneous attacks. Presumably Ukraine begins with the kind of numerical superiority some assessments assign to it in the sector currently.
    2. Kherson and Nova Kakhovka are occupied, with at least one of the two bridges intact, and Ukrainian brigades are rushed out into the expanse of southern Ukraine, which is presumably lightly-garrisoned. For maximal success the Russian forces isolated west of the Dnieper have to be brought to surrender or disperse ASAP.
    3. Ukrainian columns must push out to Melitopol and secure it in order to anchor the offensive's flank. Partisans must again play a major role.

    If Ukrainian troops actually rampaged through Crimea's garrison it would invite considerable panic among Russian high command, especially if the Kerch Bridge is no longer a viable path to reinforce the defense. The Russians have for most of the war been flying 200-300 sorties per day (not including helicopters?), generally for standoff actions or CAS near the frontline. If Crimea were imperiled Russia would throw all available air assets at Ukrainian columns regardless of losses. It would probably launch a hundred missiles at Kherson alone in hopes of destroying the bridge and damaging assembled units or supplies. A lack of any bridges across the Dnieper in the area would put an end to any forward movement, which fact itself must do a lot to deter the ambition to such an operation. Even if the Ukrainians did inflict unsustainable losses on Russian aerial assets, they would probably need multiple AD brigades and most of their fighter craft on scene to avoid taking enough losses to stall the offensive on that account alone.

    4. The Russian main force would definitely peel off large formations to redeploy toward Melitopol in an attempt to defeat the offensive. To disrupt Russian efforts Ukraine would have to counterattack all along the line of contact just as opposing elements begin to withdraw, with results ranging from Russian delay to a Russian rout and pursuit in detail. This would relieve the flank defense at Melitopol for at least a few days.
    5. As Ukrainian forces advance into Crimea and push aside garrison troops, they will seize Russian military bases, airfields, and depots, relying on the speed of their action to preempt the local assembly of reserves or militias to counteract them.

    If this scenario could ever occur, it would have to be during the summer, before the latest wave of Russian conscripts and reserves complete basic training and after some Ukrainian reserve brigades under construction become available. If Ukraine could pull off such a feat, on top of everything else they've accomplished, the US would have no choice but to beg Ukraine with major economic favors to join NATO and train our cadets and recruits in combined arms warfare.

    For the Solomon islands, I think the US statement is a nothing burger. It's the usual "all options are on the table" when we all know that's not the case. I imagine this is more for protecting the executive branch from Republican attacks for letting the PRC expand by sea again as the atoll expansions happened under Obama's watch previously. Also, in the Australia, UK, and US alliance only the US is currently positioned to make any threats as Australia and the UK are in no way able to rattle a saber credibly at the PRC.
    This kind of language raises an eyebrow in the present historical moment:

    “We wanted to outline for our friends in the Solomons, what our concerns are,” said Kritenbrink. “Prime minister Sogavare indicated that in the Solomon Islands’ view, the agreement they’ve concluded has solely domestic implications. But we’ve made clear that there are potential regional security implications of the agreement not just for ourselves, but for allies and partners across the region.”

    On Tuesday, Kritenbrink reiterated the US’s willingness to act in the region if a military base were established by China.

    “Of course, we have respect for the Solomon Islands sovereignty, but we also wanted to let them know that if steps were taken to establish a de facto permanent military presence, power projection capabilities, or a military installation, then we would have significant concerns, and we would very naturally respond to those concerns,” he said.
    Of course the universal language of threatening nations and mafiosi in terms of "dear friends/partners" amplifies the distaste.
    Last edited by Montmorency; 05-06-2022 at 06:07.
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  8. #458
    Headless Senior Member Pannonian's Avatar
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    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    What is the point of western governments saying that they contributed in such and such a way to Ukraine's campaign? Boris Johnson did it (personally), and now the Biden government has done it.

  9. #459

    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    Why more maps need to indicate rivers.



    Unfortunately, the Russians have downed and captured a Phoenix Ghost.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pannonian View Post
    What is the point of western governments saying that they contributed in such and such a way to Ukraine's campaign? Boris Johnson did it (personally), and now the Biden government has done it.
    Signaling to domestic audiences, signaling to Ukrainian audiences, to emphasize resolve to the Russian government, and perhaps most importantly to advertise to potential allies. They're going to need to after the past generation of Western warfighting.
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  10. #460

    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    Indications that some of the recent American statements on American intelligence and material aid to Ukraine may have been unauthorized and undesirable.
    https://www.politico.com/newsletters...ssary-00030762
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/...y-intelligence

    Putin believes 'doubling down' will improve Ukraine war outcome, CIA director says
    "He's in a frame of mind in which he doesn't believe he can afford to lose," said Burns, who was speaking at a Financial Times event in Washington. "I think he's convinced right now that doubling down still will enable him to make progress."
    This is what Nixon and others believed for Vietnam. Escalate to de-escalate. But he had several war machines to dispose of.

    Russian generals turning on each other to avoid Putin’s purge, says Ben Wallace
    Russian generals are “turning in on themselves” because the war in Ukraine is not going to plan, the defence secretary said today. During a visit to Finland, Ben Wallace said military leaders were blaming each other for the “disaster” and feared being purged if the “quagmire” turns into a panicked retreat.
    It seems a critical mass of Russian leadership might be too invested in this war to re-evaluate. And Stoltenberg thinks the Russian offensive proper hasn't even begun yet?

    While Russian mass mobilization of reserves or conscripts is quite plausible as a decision point rn, I no longer believe Russia is even capable of carrying out a successful and full mobilization this year. The resources and organization just aren't present. The core of a mass training element, thousands of battle-hardened officers and enlisted, certainly exists*, but to gather enough of them to train huge numbers of conscripts to a reasonable standard of discipline, to allocate and refurbish enough equipment to allow the formation of units that aren't mere footbound light infantry with surplus DShK machineguns, to ensure that the logistical infrastructure can actually accommodate them without paralysis, to restructure the entire civilian economy toward war production, would surely require Stavka to essentially withdraw its most capable units from combat and immediately adopt a defensive posture lasting through the end of the year. The existing standing army would also probably just have to be reorganized on the spot to reconstitute elite units with individual experienced and committed soldiers from across the deployed formations who won't be held back in their outfits by corruption, incoherence, malingering, and poor leadership, with the rest of the standing army forming a dumping ground for the lower-tier troops. Also, the general staff probably have to be thoroughly purged and successfully replaced through battlefield promotion.

    But in the meantime the Ukrainian armed forces will have doubled in size since the beginning of the war...

    The Ukrainians have quite a lot of will to bleed to restore their lost territory (and strategically, to give it up is fatal anyway); they have the will, and arguably capability to match.


    *With the further consideration that attrition among Russian officers and elite units has been particularly high since the beginning. If the vDV started with 45K personnel, and 2/3 were in maneuver elements (high-end?), of which half (>> 1/3) were infantry (my understanding of infantry BTGs at least is that they are never more than 1/2 infantry by TOE), and the Russian active military as a whole has lost (by now a lower bound) 15K killed with at least 25K dischargeably wounded going by some of the Russian reported ratios we've seen, it should not at all be surprising if more than 33% (5000 of 15000) of all VDV infantry have been lost by now. For an illustration, here is a helicopter full of Spetsnaz getting merked while relieving Snake Island following (or amid?) continual targeting of the island by Ukrainian drones and air force.
    https://twitter.com/i/status/1523215868179714048
    https://twitter.com/i/status/1523309892429176833
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  11. #461

    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    Here was a BBC-style (e.g. obituaries) independent Russian media analysis of Russian losses, from two weeks ago. In this graphic casualties are attributed across military services.



    Now of course databases of publicly-reported individual casualties remain woefully underspecified against the totality of losses, and a plurality of identified losses even lack details for attribution here (and both the BBC and this analysis find officers overrepresented in the public data), so we can't place that much confidence in the representativeness of this breakdown.

    But it is suggestive that the VDV here take the largest share of attributable losses at 20% (the next-biggest categories are motor rifle, armor, and marines). Reusing the 40K+ irrecoverable RuAF casualties estimate I relied on, that would correspond to at least 8K overall VDV irrecoverable casualties, which suits my estimate from a day ago (such as 5K infantry, 3K crews and others). I'm comfortable estimating at the lowest end that 15% of the entire initial VDV has been lost, with more among the combat personnel. Without extended replenishment and refit the VDV would cease to exist as a combat-ready formation by the end of the year.

    On the overreliance on the most capable units to accomplish tasks: Regimenter sterben zenmahl (Regiments die ten times).



    For another reference point to the way I approach the subject of casualty rates, a Vietnam War analysis I glanced at earlier found 45% of US wounded would return to duty within 3 days. Accepting that return rates plummet after 3 days, 0.5x is a reasonable multiplier for dividing US wounded in Vietnam between light and heavy (e.g. dischargeable) categories. For various reasons I think the multiplier can be provisionally carried over to this war, and coheres well enough with a default overall wound rate of >3x fatalities.)



    Damn, 30mm again.

    A Ukrainian T-72B survived, with obvious damage, 7x 30x165mm autocannon hits (Fired from BMP-2, BTR-82A, etc).
    Last edited by Montmorency; 05-10-2022 at 06:09.
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  12. #462
    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    I think the analysis is about right and the over reliance on the elite formations will certainly have an outsized effect. The prolific ATGMs and MANPADs make even the platforms that usually dominate conventional conflicts (attack aviation and armor) vulnerable with such a low chance of survival.
    The major fallacy of the way they've been conducting the war though is that the best tactical leaders will lead from the front and put themselves into harms way but when doing so for such a poorly planned and coordinated operation like the initial invasion just leads to outsized casualties.
    I'm sure the Russians are trying to adapt but may be too often exposed to danger that they become slow and too conservative because they can't rely on their own support system to get their Soldiers and equipment out of danger once they get stuck in. The very slow creeping progress in certain parts of Eastern Donbass seems to reflect this, very slow offensive, creeping at WW1 speeds because the combined arms warfare just isn't capable of providing support to elements that have achieved any local breakthroughs.

    The next few weeks will be telling. Curious what reactions the Russians can even do given that its likely that Finland and Sweden will apply for NATO next week.

    "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"
    -Abraham Lincoln


    Four stage strategy from Yes, Minister:
    Stage one we say nothing is going to happen.
    Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
    Stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there's nothing we can do.
    Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it's too late now.

  13. #463

    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    Everyone keeps comparing the pace of operations to WW1 warfare, but isn't it more similar to the typical mode of offensive action by the Allies against German lines? The kind of simpler trench networks we see in the Donbass were also the norm in WW2.

    Speaking of which, it's just more striking because of the erstwhile universality of mobility on the modern battlefield. Everything the soldiers in the current war are doing would have been done by rail or by footmarch 80 years ago, whereas in the present war I don't think soldiers ever march more than a couple of kilometers without relying at the very least on sedans. A lot of Ukrainian soldiers not on active defensive duty around the decisive points even get to 'commute to war', driving out from Kyiv or another city to participate in a village clearing one day, then driving back home or to their quarters after it's done. Most troops even on the defense appear to get the opportunity to be rotated onto leave quite frequently. Seems like the Work From Home trend has diffused down even to militaries.


    I noticed that in 2011, Boeing fulfilled a $12 billion contract to upgrade our 76 B-52s' displays and datalinks. That's more than the cost of a new F-35B per B-52 just to partially refit a plane that has been flying since before ICBMs existed. For reference, the unipolar-era B-1 and B-2 bombers are supposed to be retired next decade. I get that the Air Force intends to put these frames on parade for the third centenary of the Declaration of Independence, but this kind of investment seems a bit much.




    The impressive current list of US materiel transfers to Ukraine (though I'm not sure it's even complete on the public commitments).

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    This is what happens when you have an anti-competitive command economy like the - er...

    So why not take it in-house?

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    This is nothing more than a scene out of the old Blitzkrieg RTT games.

    The Russians made one of their many attempts to cross the Donets river, this time near Lysychansk.

    We count 6x T-72B-series MBT, 14x BMP-1/2 variants, 7x MT-LB, a tugboat & 5+ other armoured vehicles destroyed/abandoned/damaged. Note precise ID is very hard.
    There were probably more losses not captured in these images. And it's unlikely most of those vehicles were parked or empty or destroyed. When you consider that most Russian BTGs in the area have to be considerably understrength, this foiled bridgehead represents the neutralization of an entire BTG for potentially no cost to the defender. Cold War-era systems of warfighting are just obsolete in the face of awesome strides in firepower and precision. Even the Ukrainians' trenches would effectively just be deathtraps if they weren't complemented by surrounding mobile defense.

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    Last edited by Montmorency; 05-13-2022 at 02:08.
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  14. #464
    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    Everyone keeps comparing the pace of operations to WW1 warfare, but isn't it more similar to the typical mode of offensive action by the Allies against German lines? The kind of simpler trench networks we see in the Donbass were also the norm in WW2.
    The pace of the fighting certainly is typical of a lot of the hard fought slogs like the Gothic line in Italy, the hedge country fights in Normandy, and the Siegfried line/Hurtgen Forest fighting before the Battle of the Bulge. The thing that stands out has been the inability, after the first few days of the war for any breakout by the Russians. WW2's hard fights usually would result in breakthroughs and exploitations at some point.

    Right now though, the lethality of the weapons and the lack of survivability of Russian mobile platforms due to poor combined arms and contested air space makes the war look much more WW1. Both sides conduct an offensive of limited gains, reposition artillery, do a recon/counter-recon fight and then continue the attack if there's still capability. The fact that the towed artillery that the US is providing will likely be a game changer in providing decisive counter-battery fires where deployed is just an indicator of how slow the warfare is. The tank/IFV/infantry fight so far seems wholly dependent on artillery to get to the assault line and then defend gains against counterattacks.

    Speaking of which, it's just more striking because of the erstwhile universality of mobility on the modern battlefield. Everything the soldiers in the current war are doing would have been done by rail or by footmarch 80 years ago, whereas in the present war I don't think soldiers ever march more than a couple of kilometers without relying at the very least on sedans.
    The abundance of cars and trucks make road marches in this type of country unnecessary until right on the front line and both sides have enough APCs/IFVs that those should take you up to the dismount point. I imagine that the only true dismount forces in this fight are snipers and SOF type units doing behind the lines stuff. The dismounted infantry though seem absolutely vital for conduct the recon and patrolling that builds the intel for stuff that drones can't pickup, we've also seen lots of examples of anti-armor patrols doing their thing.

    I noticed that in 2011, Boeing fulfilled a $12 billion contract to upgrade our 76 B-52s' displays and datalinks. That's more than the cost of a new F-35B per B-52 just to partially refit a plane that has been flying since before ICBMs existed. For reference, the unipolar-era B-1 and B-2 bombers are supposed to be retired next decade. I get that the Air Force intends to put these frames on parade for the third centenary of the Declaration of Independence, but this kind of investment seems a bit much.
    In all fairness to the air force that upgrade to me still makes sense. The role for the B1s and B2s are in a war such as the current one in Ukraine, over contest air space. B-52s are just simple bomb-trucks doing a simple job. Just like the air force has realized that not all their fighters need to be stealth and have adjusted their plans to keeping newer F-15EXs around to complement the F35 and F22 force. The high end platforms are just not cost effective to be the standard multirole so you want to keep the older but still relevant multirole around. Same with the B-52s, once enemy air space is neutralized they can carry a lot of ordnance and we have a lot of those air frames available. Also, look at the Russian sorties being conducted, their Tu-95s are still doing sorties regularly but launching munitions from their side of the border. B-52s can do the same carrying cruise missiles and in the future hypersonic missiles of various sorts to go and conduct strikes from well outside enemy air defenses while the B1s and B2s conduct the more dangerous missions in contested environments.
    I have the same gripe with the Humvee replacement, the JTLV in that there's a lot of jobs that just require a 4x4 truck in the army, not necessarily an armored vehicle. The JTLV is good for a lot of action, but I doubt it's weight makes it good for off road use. Same like I also think the US Army should bring back mule teams for the few mountain units as it's a timeless and effective way to do logistics where trucks and helicopters can't.

    This is what happens when you have an anti-competitive command economy like the - er...

    So why not take it in-house?
    Part of that is that those larger companies have bought up the smaller defense firms. Same as what happened with Britain's aircraft industry in the 50s which was pretty much consolidated from dozens of firms into a handful.
    The surface ship production and US ship building in general though are a product of blind US and UK policies under Reagan and Thatcher to make it more competitive and not subsidize ship building leading to most ship building going to China and Korea.
    I'm happy that the current tensions and the COVID disruptions have led to the wool falling from our collective eyes in seeing that maintaining domestic supply chains of strategic resources is rather important even if it's not cost effective from a free market stand point. The US restarting stinger production after realizing that it takes 18 months to build a 'cheap' shoulder fired rocket is a marker for sure.

    Perhaps the defense industry will finally get the scrutiny that it deserves as we help ourselves and NATO rearm but outside of us being in a state of war too so that graft and corruption can't be so easily hidden under the guise of patriotism.

    This is nothing more than a scene out of the old Blitzkrieg RTT games.

    The Russians made one of their many attempts to cross the Donets river, this time near Lysychansk.
    Certainly, looks like a nightmare of a fight for the Russians, sorta looks like the river crossing scene from Kelly's Heros too though definitely Blitzkrieg RTT memories too (excellent series of games, too bad the new one is mediocre). River crossings are damn difficult, this is why so many Russian vehicles are supposed to be amphibious though it doesn't look that's being employed much in this war. When you look at how few bridging units exist in NATO formations right now you can see a severe engineer capability gap in addition to not having had to build fortifications against modern weapons too.

    "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"
    -Abraham Lincoln


    Four stage strategy from Yes, Minister:
    Stage one we say nothing is going to happen.
    Stage two, we say something may be about to happen, but we should do nothing about it.
    Stage three, we say that maybe we should do something about it, but there's nothing we can do.
    Stage four, we say maybe there was something we could have done, but it's too late now.

  15. #465

    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    On the subject of communication and (mis)understanding in international affairs, it seems bin Laden's primary aim in attacking the US and Western societies... let me preface by saying that his ideology was always to drive the "far Satan" (Western interference) out of the Middle East so that the fundamentalist movements could overwhelm the "near Satan" (more secular Arab governments). But according to bin Laden's personal archive, the process for him involved using terror to generate popular unrest in Western countries against continuing political or security involvement in the Middle East.

    Stop to think how stupid that concept is, that bombing Americans or Europeans would enflame their isolationism rather than their racism and pugnacity. Maybe even stupider than imagining that Iraqis would quickly self-organize a US-friendly government peddling cheap oil...

    Lahoud says the terrorist's intention was to incite protests in the U.S., to turn the American people against their government because, as a letter from 2010 read, direct pressure can only be applied to the "White House, Congress and Pentagon .. when [al Qaeda] directly influences the American people."

    Bin Laden sought to strip the U.S. of its sense of security, in hopes it would cause the U.S. to pull troops out of the Middle East.

    In the years that followed 9/11, bin Laden had plans for other attacks designed to incite "popular anger and domestic opposition" on US soil. In a 2005 letter, Nelly Lahoud translated in her book, bin Laden wrote that al Qaeda should prioritize attacks in America, but only in those states that had voted for Bush in 2004.
    It's unnatural to study people and groups objectively. It requires special training, social conditioning, or even temperament. The reality is that all policymakers and state or substate leaders are at risk of acting without objective grounding, much of the time. It's almost like we should pay more attention to the old insights of postmodern academia...

    More and more I'm of the opinion that international relations should drop the screen of "constructive ambiguity" and encourage leaders to share all their dumbass opinions with each other in candid exchanges and force a reckoning between actually-existing worldviews.


    According to this researcher, the Ukraine war is extremely popular among the Russian military, where the consensus is that all the problems they face are caused by NATO and by internal intelligence and political failures. It's a shame, but when faced with florid fascism you really can't get around just killing as many fascists as possible. A lot of Russian enlisted and conscripts may be drunk, undisciplined, even insubordinate louts from time to time, but the lack, or perhaps even declining incidence, of significant mutinies and surrenders, illustrates the cohesion of the RuAF. I projected such cohesion at the beginning of the war based on Russian as well as general military history, but the extent of it might even be more than I expected.

    Although the real test would be in how many surrender under condition of Ukrainian breakthrough exploitation rather than the current static warfare (the attacking Soviets in the Winter War never really broke or surrendered either, during the dismal first phase.)


    Illustration of decentralization of firepower and surveillance in action:

    1. A single Russian towed artillery piece fires.
    2. All the crew and support personnel flee to a nearby house.
    3. Eventually a single Ukrainian gun gives desultory counterbattery fire, damaging the Russian ordnance.

    It makes sense for the US military to prioritize expanding its technological advantage in those domains.

    Speaking of technology, another next-big-thing may be continuous solar refueling of electrified equipment during missions, though this decentralization probably wouldn't fit with US massive logistics doctrine beyond SOF.

    Quote Originally Posted by spmetla View Post
    The pace of the fighting certainly is typical of a lot of the hard fought slogs like the Gothic line in Italy, the hedge country fights in Normandy, and the Siegfried line/Hurtgen Forest fighting before the Battle of the Bulge. The thing that stands out has been the inability, after the first few days of the war for any breakout by the Russians. WW2's hard fights usually would result in breakthroughs and exploitations at some point.

    Right now though, the lethality of the weapons and the lack of survivability of Russian mobile platforms due to poor combined arms and contested air space makes the war look much more WW1. Both sides conduct an offensive of limited gains, reposition artillery, do a recon/counter-recon fight and then continue the attack if there's still capability. The fact that the towed artillery that the US is providing will likely be a game changer in providing decisive counter-battery fires where deployed is just an indicator of how slow the warfare is. The tank/IFV/infantry fight so far seems wholly dependent on artillery to get to the assault line and then defend gains against counterattacks.
    Of June through December 1944 the West Front only saw any significant maneuvers in August and September, 2 months out of 7, despite overwhelming Allied superiority on all material metrics. On the Italian front, it took half a year to surge from Naples to Rome. Then, once the front advanced from Rome to Florence, the Allies were stuck there for another half a year until the last month of the war (Operation Grapeshot). The Russians here, meanwhile are on the offensive with a theater-wide 1:1 ratio, following enormous losses during the initial maneuver phase, against an opponent with evidently-high tactical skill and fielding most of the same armored and artillery platforms they rely on. They've also been conservative with their air force for various reasons, including on account of when in early March they put their air force through the full range of superiority operations and suffered combat loss of multiple airframes confirmed in a single day (2 Su-30 and 2 Su-34 on March 5, with 2 Su-25 lost the day before, according to Oryx). It's far past time to admit that the only logical reason for widespread and continuing expectations of Russian deep operations throughout Ukraine are underestimation of Ukrainians as hapless chimps ("retarded Russians" as some say) and overestimation of Russians as Slavic supermen.

    If the Russian Army found ten ready divisions in its couch cushions, or sleeping by the banks of the Donets, the picture would change.

    Same like I also think the US Army should bring back mule teams for the few mountain units as it's a timeless and effective way to do logistics where trucks and helicopters can't.
    That would make it difficult for the grunts to joke about opposition being donkey.

    But I think DoD is too far along the development chain for autonomous mechanized portage systems, or whatever they call them, to downgrade to muscle.
    Vitiate Man.

    History repeats the old conceits
    The glib replies, the same defeats


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  16. #466
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    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    Quote Originally Posted by Montmorency View Post
    ...I noticed that in 2011, Boeing fulfilled a $12 billion contract to upgrade our 76 B-52s' displays and datalinks. That's more than the cost of a new F-35B per B-52 just to partially refit a plane that has been flying since before ICBMs existed. For reference, the unipolar-era B-1 and B-2 bombers are supposed to be retired next decade. I get that the Air Force intends to put these frames on parade for the third centenary of the Declaration of Independence, but this kind of investment seems a bit much.
    Nothing, but nothing is quite like "The BUFF!"
    "The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom.” -- Milton Friedman

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  17. #467

    Default Re: Great Power contentions

    I've checked the scale in ISW maps against Gooogle Earth and they appear to be systematically marking it up by around 33%. I'll take this opportunity to disclose my opinion that in general ISW's maps rank as one of the less useful major mappers I know of, in part for their flawed choice of base map.

    You may have heard that the documented Russian vehicle losses were upped to more than double the early figures. I don't know what they based it on, but the other day ISW estimated 550 Russian troops on the scene, of whom ~500 were casualties. Yuri Podolyaka, my fascist, was one of the Russian milbloggers noted to have inveighed against Russian leadership over the incident.

    Speaking of which, this comparison of Oryx open source captured Russian documents from the 1st Guards Tank Army dating up to March 15th indicate that Oryx's tracker recorded 80% of Russian T80U losses up to that point. This supports a heuristic like taking the average of Oryx's tank hit count and the Ukrainian government's claimed tank count (always less than double Oryx's); a similar calculation could apply to other vehicles, though they have crept over a 2x ratio to Oryx over time, and artillery to over a 3x ratio (granting the difficulty of ID). I would still call the Ukrainian aviation hit claims a lie though.
    Vitiate Man.

    History repeats the old conceits
    The glib replies, the same defeats


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