Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Return of History

I'm not afraid to say that this scared the Hell out of me about how prepared our Army is to fight the Russian army.

Stick with it. The audio gets better.

The bad news is that the Russians have gotten good at armored warfare while we were fighting insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan the last 15 years. The 2003 American blitz to Baghdad is but a memory.

The good news is that the Russians can't afford to field a large army equipped to fight the way the Russians have been fighting with their small force in the Donbas. Objectively speaking, Russia is a weak power only able to overwhelm even weaker neighbors--or a small NATO force that opposes them initially.

So let's hope that Russia's planning, finances, and recruiting don't recover enough to do that any time soon.

But tell me how we went from training to fight and win outnumbered to counting on the Russians having too few units to really defeat us?

This talk reinforced a number of my worries about the Army:

--Heavy armor is vital and not obsolete. I've gone on about that in many ways whether it is about tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, recon vehicles, or the amount of heavy armor units we have as opposed to light infantry that has proliferated since we won the Cold War.

Yes, the pursuit of strategic mobility pulls us to lighten our armor, but sacrificing survivability to get lower weight is a losing game.

--Light armor is worthless in high-intensity combat and Ukrainian troops learned to ride on top of the light stuff rather than die inside the thin-skinned armor. Which is a lesson we learned in Vietnam when our troops rode on top of M-113s rather than burn and die inside. But I guess we forgot that.

--We need to put fewer people in each vehicle to reduce casualties.

--We need cluster munitions for artillery, both for direct attack and as scatterable minefields.

--Heavy armor is useful in defense and infantry need organic capabilities to fight heavy armor.

And it added to my worries:

--We need thermobaric weapons for artillery.

--And much more artillery. Precision rounds aimed at point targets are no replacement for precision targeting combined with massed area fire or massed precision strikes. I was wrong to think that precision eliminated the need for volume of fire. Grant me that I concluded that pre-Ukraine.

--Troops need to disperse and dig in to survive enemy firepower.

--Russian electronic warfare is dangerous.

--We desperately need low altitude air defenses for the frontline units. This could have gone in my first column but I don't think I truly appreciated how unlikely it is that the Army can count on the Air Force to reliably provide fire support or keep the skies cleared of enemies.

We need to learn from Ukraine's fight with Russia. In many ways this is Russia's Spanish Civil War intervention to hammer out the details of how to wage modern armored warfare--against America.

And let's support Ukraine in their fight against Russia's ongoing invasion and provide the weapons--like long-range infantry anti-tank weapons as I've long wanted us to provide--to fill in Ukrainian capability gaps.

Now excuse me while I go change my underwear.