The current conflict in Ukraine is truly remarkable on several levels. Of course, the human suffering is really the worst. The civilian death toll is likely to rise even higher. But, what about the Russian tactics? This author trained to fight the Soviet army for about a decade. So, the tactics are of much interest. Remarkably, the Russians have not really employed tactics, as we understand the term. The Russians are well-trained in tactics. But, they are not using them. They appear to have focused on seizing Kiev in a blitzkrieg type action, rushing columns of tanks and Armored Personnel Carriers (APC) toward the city.
But, unlike Russian doctrine, they did not precede their advance with mountains of artillery fire and air strikes. They truly, as we would have said in my Infantry days, “be-bopped” in with little perimeter security. Consequently, the advance into Kiev was subjected to devastating ambushes. The flank of an armored column is completely exposed when they simply drive into a built up environment with no security. They apparently did not dismount their Infantry as they attempted to drive into Kiev. In the more rural areas, they sent reconnaissance units which also simply drove toward crossroads. Apparently the recon elements intended to seize critical road junctions. But, in many instances, again, they did employed no flank security. They believed they could simply drive toward their objective with no security, as if they were in the Russian countryside. So, again, they were subjected to devastating ambushes.
Part of this is due to erroneous assumptions that ethnic Russians or Russian speaking citizens would welcome the invaders. In fact, they have not. The predominantly Russian speaking city of Kharkiv has resisted as much as anywhere else in Ukraine.
Abandoned Major Weapon Systems
Even more remarkable, numerous Russians have abandoned main battle tanks, self propelled howitzers, self-propelled rocket systems, trucks loaded with 122 mm shells. In some cases, those abandoned vehicles had run out of fuel. In other cases, the vehicles still had fuel and were fully functional. In Iraq, the terrorists used those same 122 mm shells to emplace horrendous IED’s (road side bombs). So, the Russians are actually leaving major weapon systems to be found by the enemy. That seems counter-intuitive.
But, it appears many Russians did not realize they were invading Ukraine. Ukraine and Russia have centuries old ties. They have friendships and family ties that know no border. The situation compares to the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada. It appears many Russians at all levels are very reluctant to kill Ukrainians. And, that might help explain why up to now, they have employed little to no actual battlefield tactics. The Russians have a 10:1 advantage in everything, from tanks to APC’s to aircraft. It really is a matter of time, unfortunately, before the Ukrainians must succumb. Unless the Russians themselves revolt at something they really do not wish to do.