Ukraine learned combined arms maneuvers, but at great sacrifice

Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyі, architect of the Kharkiv offensive

Mark Sumner’s two stories today (morning, afternoon) contain a lot of information about Ukraine’s operational gains today. As I write these lines, it is dark in Ukraine and although there is undoubtedly a lot going on, we won’t hear about it until the morning.

This is most likely deprecated, but good enough for now with confirmed advances:

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I wonder if Russia will meet Putin’s September 15 deadline to capture all of Donbass.

They were already going to cut it close, but events in Kharkiv could force further delays. On the positive side, they are make some gains.

Wagner captured a hill. A hill guys! That’s like… 0.3 square miles, which more than offsets Ukraine’s gain of 2,000 square miles over the past four days.

My favorite answer:

So good:

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My brother helped with this:

This made me laugh so much:

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You’ve probably seen it before, but if not, here’s this a bit of hijinx:

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Anyway, there were rumors that Wagner would redeploy from the Bakhmut region to reinforce the Kharkiv front. Wagner didn’t like this too much:

Information about the transfer of the forces of the “Wagner group” to the direction of Izyum, as well as near Kupyansk, is not true.

“The musicians” [their self-styled nickname] continue their work on the fronts assigned to them, and at the moment they are almost, if not the only ones, who not only hold the front in Ukraine, but also move it forward. No one will be removed from particularly difficult areas to plug holes.

DAMN RIGHT, they are not going to leave their post. As they note, these are the only Russian forces currently capturing anything. So of course Ukraine has liberated 2,000 square kilometers in the last four days, but since they got A HILL, that’s what matters most! Also, why not shit on the rest of the Russian war effort while they’re at it?

Seriously, this is one of the things that hampered the Russian war effort. Each Russian military district initially had its own section of the front, none working together. And while they eventually got a commanding general, supposedly, there’s nothing on the ground to suggest it actually changed anything of note. Half the time, we don’t even really know who it is. You shouldn’t need to be a Kremlinologist to figure out who’s responsible.

Then you have Rosgvardia, Putin’s personal army, his “national guard”. They have their own chain of command that bypasses the Russian Defense Ministry. VDV airborne guys have their own thing because they’re supposed to be so elite and cool. Wagner, of course, answers to their CEO (the leader of Putin). And the Donbass proxy armies are supposedly independent. We think: “The Russians don’t allow local initiative, all orders come from above. And that’s true ! It’s just that there is a lot highs, and neither of them seem to like each other.

Ukraine does not have this problem.

Damn yeah that was risky! Amazing that he succeeded.

In Izyum, Russian war propagandist WarGonzo intended to prove that everything was safe and secure and that no one needed to believe those pesky rumors of an impending Ukrainian assault.

Here is the real before (where he accidentally admits Ukrainian forces are approaching) and after videos. In the sequel, he mentions that there is only one thoroughfare left out of town, admitting that the town is operationally surrounded. As far as propaganda is concerned, it was a failure!

And speaking of…

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My favorite is the Kadyrovite that says, “Is Izyum the capital of Russia? Does Kupyansk? Otherwise, who cares! What a strange standard.

Apparently, Dovhen’ke was the capital of Russia, because they really stuck to that one.

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So much loot! Blowing it up is great. Taking it by force and then using it against Russia is even better.

Now look at this: the combined arms war!

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Infantry land, protect armor. The armor moves forward, uses the big gun to clear enemy armor and defensive positions. The infantry moves up, and they advance.

What’s missing is obvious air power, but Ukraine is doing well. It should be noted that even though people were shouting that Ukraine needed this or that, the Pentagon and its allies had a very clear understanding of what needed to be delivered, balancing ease of learning, exploitation , maintenance and supply, with battlefield utility. Ukraine did not need NATO armor, it received nearly 300 Soviet-era tanks from allies. The M113s were good enough infantry carriers (the YPR-765 is actually a variant of the M113). In Kherson, where vast flat spaces expose advancing forces to deadly artillery barrages, the Ukraine uses fast Humvees to go from town to town, leaving little chance for artillery to concentrate on them.

And the planes? Ukraine received additional aircraft from the allies, including parts needed to revive planes destroyed in the early days of the war. Additionally, they have been modified to carry some NATO weapons like HARM anti-radar missiles. With air defenses removed, Ukraine can fly more drones, from TB2 Bayraktars to small quadcopters that launch grenades at individual soldiers. And HIMARS really plays a lot of the roles that aircraft have traditionally played (destroy bridges, reinforce defenses, munitions depots, and command and control facilities).

Would M1 Abrams and M2 Bradleys and F16s be better? Yes! But Ukraine would still try to learn the basics of operating and maintaining them, not to mention the challenges of developing additional logistics supply chains to power and repair them. Remember, the M1 Abrams uses jet fuel, no diesel, and gets 2 gallons per mile. (That’s not a typo.) Refueling standard and more efficient diesel vehicles is hard enough.

So kudos to the Pentagon for having a clear vision of what it would take for Ukraine to retake the territory as quickly as possible, even as the Peanut Gallery groaned that NATO is notdon’t play to win, just not to lose!

And really, this offensive is really possible for all those Territorial Defense Force units stuck in trenches on the front lines for the past six months, getting slammed daily, often feeling abandoned. Their impossible heroism allowed Ukrainian regular army units and 300,000 reservists to prepare in the west of the country, while Western allies equipped and trained them in proper combat techniques.

These trench-bound TDFs were given a shitty hand, and thousands paid the ultimate price. Many will suffer from PTSD and other trauma for the rest of their lives. But they were replaced, and I hope they’re done, they’ve given enough. Hundreds of thousands of new soldiers behind them are ready to take over.

Martin E. Berry