Why is Russia's tank trap scheme in the conflict doomed to fail?
Russia has devised a new plan to delay Ukraine's soldiers, but is it effective? Get on this new narrative as we update the crisis between Russia and Ukraine with Putin's latest approach, which may prove ineffective!
Russia has devised a new plan to delay Ukraine's soldiers, but is it effective? Get on this new narrative as we update the crisis between Russia and Ukraine with Putin's latest approach, which may prove ineffective! 🤐😤🔐
- Building extensive defensive fortifications is the last thing you want to do when invading an enemy country. If your army is forced to do this, as was the case with Russia, then your invasion isn't exactly going as planned. However, despite building the largest network of trenches in Europe since World War I, Russia's plan is unlikely to succeed. But first, what exactly is Russia doing and how did it get here? After being knocked to the ground by the fierce Ukrainian counterattack at the end of the summer, Russian forces have found themselves in a dangerous position for any potential invader. If there was one weapon on which Ukraine's counteroffensive was dependent, it was the HIMARS.
- If there were two, they would be the high-speed anti-radiation missile, or HARM, and the HIMARS. The enormous quantities of ammunition, artillery, and shells that the West provided, however, would come in a very close third. A stage known as "shaping operations" occurs before any offensive. The aggressor uses all of its resources during this phase to shape the impending conflict. In order to significantly weaken the enemy defenses, this phase of an offensive in World War I would typically involve heavy artillery, with barrages lasting as long as two weeks. With the use of intelligence ruses, covert action, and feints behind enemy lines, shaping operations started to take on a more contemporary definition during World War II.
- Typically, the objective is to disrupt enemy plans, make them more challenging to carry out, divert enemy forces away from your objective, and neutralize force multipliers, or things like terrain features or weapon systems that significantly increase the lethality of ground forces. Midway through July, HIMARS started its shaping operations with a furious barrage of strikes against Russian communication lines, command and control posts, and ammo dumps. The Russians, who had never before encountered a significant threat from precision weapons in a conflict, were completely caught off guard by the HIMARS mini-offensive. Russia had learned nothing from US operations during Desert Storm or subsequent conflicts and was totally unprepared for the impact of smart weapons in combat because it was used to fighting technologically archaic wars in Chechnya and Syria.
- However, it's possible that Russia did not intend for these weapons to be in Ukraine and may not have initially believed that the US would provide them. HIMARs were immediately effective on the battlefield, preventing Russia's offensive and front-line unit resupply. Russia's greatest losses among senior military officers occurred at the height of the HIMARS offensive, which had a domino effect on Russia's capacity to command its ground forces. Russia still uses a top-down, Soviet-style command structure that discourages individual initiative and lacks a professional non-commissioned officer corps. Each officer killed made it more difficult for Russia to maneuver its forces and respond swiftly to threats, which we would see in full force during the September counteroffensive in the northeast.
- However, the devastation of Russian ammo dumps had a more immediate effect on operations. Before HIMARS entered the fray, Russian artillery was employing an extraordinary amount of painful, if incredibly indiscriminate, destruction. To facilitate distribution, Russia had clumsily stocked up its ammunition in a select group of highly concentrated supply hubs. This made Russia's artillery, which was gobbling up shells at a voracious rate, extremely vulnerable to long-range precision strikes, but it also allowed it to resupply quickly and effectively. Ukraine was able to better position its forces for upcoming offensives as a result of a significant decline in the artillery disparity between Russia and Ukraine, which had been as high as 20-1 at times.
- Russia also slowed the pace of its fire missions as its ammunition stocks were now more evenly distributed into smaller hubs, significantly reducing pressure along the front. The Ukrainian air force used HARM missiles to destroy a sizable number of air defense units, or more specifically, their vital radars. As a result, gaps along the front have become available for Ukrainian drones to operate in once more. HARM missiles, however, also gave Ukraine the opportunity to take out Russian counter-battery radars, which posed a serious threat to Ukraine's own artillery. Russia was able to deliver precise counter-battery fire that destroyed any artillery too slow to shoot-and-scoot by using radar to track the course of incoming rounds.
- As a result of the removal of these radars, Ukraine was able to position less mobile artillery pieces closer to the front and conducts more ferocious fire missions. The Russians were completely caught off guard by Ukraine's ground offensive, which caused massive territorial losses and the destruction of some of Russia's best fighting forces, including the renowned 1st Guards Tank Army, a unit built to compete with the best NATO could offer.
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