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Uh so has Debaltseve fallen?

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The recent Ukrainan debacles (or at least semi-debacles) are interesting from a military point of view.

 

It seems there is a lot of political interference which forces Ukrainian into bad strategic and tactical positions, like holding Debaltseve (surrounded on three sides and an obvious artillery magnet) and Luhansk airport. The importance of symbolism to decision making is evident in expressions like "our Stalingrad" - always a bad sign.

 

Anyone know the causes of the apparent Russian ("separatist") artillery superiority? There has been mention of new generation Russian drones for target finding, as well as heavier and longer ranged guns than what the Ukrainians have. Lack of Ukrainian counter battery radar is another issue that pops up.

 

I believe that you must have meant Donetsk Airport sir (known in Russian/Ukrainian as "AD"...aka "Hell") as Luhansks airport (or what's left of it) had been cleared by the "separatists" back in early September.  As for the perceived artillery superiority by the rebels - I am not sure if there is such a thing. At best we can talk about the parity in artillery allocation and usage and the only reason that the rebels have been able to accomplish it is due Russian material shipments and training/advisors...  no question about it. If "rebel artillery" is precieved as being more effective than their Ukrainian counterparts - it's for the same reason as any other "rebel" superiority - all volunteer highly motivated force fighting in their homeland against a conscripted force with low morale and poor operational command... Although, Russian operational support/command on the rebel side probably factors into it as well...

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I believe that you must have meant Donetsk Airport sir (known in Russian/Ukrainian as "AD"...aka "Hell") as Luhansks airport (or what's left of it) had been cleared by the "separatists" back in early September.  As for the perceived artillery superiority by the rebels - I am not sure if there is such a thing. At best we can talk about the parity in artillery allocation and usage and the only reason that the rebels have been able to accomplish it is due Russian material shipments and training/advisors...  no question about it. If "rebel artillery" is precieved as being more effective than their Ukrainian counterparts - it's for the same reason as any other "rebel" superiority - all volunteer highly motivated force fighting in their homeland against a conscripted force with low morale and poor operational command... Although, Russian operational support/command on the rebel side probably factors into it as well...

 

Oops, yes I meant Donetsk airport. I can't quite understand why those airports are so important since the Russians don't need to fly stuff in anyway. Seems like another case of symbolic importance taking precedence on both sides - "if they/we have an airport they/we will look more like a real country".

 

As for the artillery, I'm pretty sure I read about Russian drones in use as spotters (apparently they've worked hard on that since the Georgian war) as well as Ukrainian laments about lack of counterbattery radar. Together it should add up to an advantage gun-for-gun for the Russian batteries, especially if newer or heavier models are also used.

 

There is comparatively little written about the artillery (compared to e.g. what tanks are used), which is a pity since it seems to be the dominant weapon. From the pictures I've seen it looks like the Ukrainians are mostly using old Soviet medium (122 mm) towed howitzers, and I've seen some pictures (satellite images?) suggesting the Russians are using heavier self-propelled stuff.

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Oops, yes I meant Donetsk airport. I can't quite understand why those airports are so important since the Russians don't need to fly stuff in anyway. Seems like another case of symbolic importance taking precedence on both sides - "if they/we have an airport they/we will look more like a real country".

It's not so much about what the Russians need, or how it makes DNR/LNR look... Both of those airports were used as fortified fire bases and potential staging points for attacks into Donetsk and Luhansk metro areas - that is why the rebels found it essential to take them. Of course there was also a certain symbolic value to them as well. This is no different from what we see in other civil wars (i.e. Syria, Libya).

 

As for the artillery, I'm pretty sure I read about Russian drones in use as spotters (apparently they've worked hard on that since the Georgian war) as well as Ukrainian laments about lack of counterbattery radar. Together it should add up to an advantage gun-for-gun for the Russian batteries, especially if newer or heavier models are also used.

 

There is comparatively little written about the artillery (compared to e.g. what tanks are used), which is a pity since it seems to be the dominant weapon. From the pictures I've seen it looks like the Ukrainians are mostly using old Soviet medium (122 mm) towed howitzers, and I've seen some pictures (satellite images?) suggesting the Russians are using heavier self-propelled stuff.

You are absolutely correct about the Russian UAVs, but I don't believe that their operational usage has been intense enough to really aid the rebel artillery on tactical scale. Most of their missions still seem to be called by the land-based FOs.

As for the Artillery pieces; the Ukrainians had lost a big chunk of their 122mm guns(D-30 and 2S1) in the "Sector D" border battles during the summer. At this point they seem to mostly operate 152mm corps-level guns (i.e. 2S3, 2S5, 2S19, 2A65) along with multiple MLRSs (BM-21, BM-27, Smerch). If anything, the rebels seem to rely on D-30s and 2S1s more than the government units. However, as always - there is an "X-factor" with the rebels of what is theirs and what is Russian proper. For instance - there was recent footage of a 2S19M1 battery and supporting vehicles moving somewhere around Debaltseve and it is pretty safe to assume that it was not a rebel unit, but rather Russian "vocationers"....

Edited by DreDay

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However, as always - there is an "X-factor" with the rebels of what is theirs and what is Russian proper. For instance - there was recent footage of a 2S19M1 battery and supporting vehicles moving somewhere around Debaltseve and it is pretty safe to assume that it was not a rebel unit, but rather Russian "vocationers"....

 

I haven't seen the footage so I have a potentially silly question. The question that I have is how do you know that the footage was in the combat area? Were there destroyed vehicles in the area or other evidence of combat, or was it just labled as such?

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I haven't seen the footage so I have a potentially silly question. The question that I have is how do you know that the footage was in the combat area? Were there destroyed vehicles in the area or other evidence of combat, or was it just labled as such?

Good question. There have indeed been plenty of mislabeled pictures and videos that were used to back up the allegations of Russian involvement. Here are the two videos in question, you be the judge:

It certainly does not look like some training exercise in Russia to me; but there is no way to prove it 100%

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I haven't seen the footage so I have a potentially silly question. The question that I have is how do you know that the footage was in the combat area? Were there destroyed vehicles in the area or other evidence of combat, or was it just labled as such?

I can tell you, without looking at a single picture of anywhere, that Russia has supplied vast quantities of artillery and ammunition to the separatists. How can I do that? Simple... we know they have artillery. There is absolutely no way, and I mean none short of God Almighty providing it to them, how the separatists could have so much artillery in so many places concurrently *and* having endless amounts of ammunition. The Russian lie (for that is what it is) that this stuff was taken from Ukrainian stocks is beyond laughable.

It is akin to knowing what happens to a mellon when it is dropped off a 10 story building onto pavement. If you have a basic understanding of the physics involved, you don't need to see pictures of the result to know what it will be.

Likewise, the amount of expertise needed to competently man and control artillery fire is not something that springs up out of nowhere. The more complicated the system, the less likely it is a "miner" or "cab driver" manning it. Logic dictates that those more complicated systems are manned by Russian military and not true militia members. Plenty of evidence to support that this is the case, including Russian artillery service personnel on Vkontakte.

With that said, a reminder that I will not allow people to derail this thread by getting into a "debate" about Russian involvement. As with anything in life, the most logical explanation is the one that is most probably the correct explanation.

Steve

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Getting back on target...

From all that I see the Ukrainians are the one with the superior artillery. In fact, it appears to be the best asset in the Ukrainian ATO in terms of general competency and impact on the fighting. Repeatedly the attempts by separatists/Russians to pinch Debaltseve off at the neck were defeated by artillery. It is for this reason, most likely, that the strategy switched to direct assault on Debaltseve itself (see earlier posting by me with more thoughts on this).

Ukrainian artillery fire apparently has better spotters in place, better coordination of fire with ground forces, and at least a few US made counter battery fire control systems. Separatists have complained bitterly about the results of this, whereas the Ukrainian soldiers have generally found the separatist artillery strikes to be comparatively ineffective. Even in Debaltseve, which was leveled by Russian artillery, it did not break the defenders the way Ukrainian artillery has repeatedly broken up separatist/Russian attacks.

Not that this was not the case back in the Summer. Ukrainian artillery was constantly hampered by horrid coordination problems. However, they did manage to withdraw most of their artillery ahead of the Russian August counter offensive, which was an under reported and under appreciated bit of not bad news at the time.

Likewise, Ukrainians learned the hard way how to behave in a combat zone where the enemy has artillery. The first known strike of Russian artillery (from Russian soil, no less) took place back in June. It caused in excess of 100 casualties amongst a Ukrainian battalion that was camped out in a field as if getting ready for a parade. Because the separatists had just about zero artillery at the time they didn't think they needed to disperse and dig in. They never expected to be struck from Russian artillery on Russian soil, but that became common in July before the August counter offensive.

Steve

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Steve,

 

Here's another nail for the "pro Russian separatists rose up and seized Crimea" coffin. Somebody posted this in a vehicular wall breeching (BTR-80A at 4:15) thread. But just look comes rolling sailing through the portico and is clearly visible up close at 1:10 A Tigr with a big red Russian Army star on the door! The next two in the column have the damning national marking painted out. Thought you'd get a kick out this. 

 

 

On a more Debaltseve topical note, I find myself awed by the number of sources you stay atop, yet somehow manage to do, and well, the zillion things necessary to keep BFC alive and growing. Am going to have to look into your suggested sites later. I can't recall exactly where on this Forum I read it, but someone was talking about how the Ukrainians were outgunned, to which you (?) replied the Ukrainians were much better with their artillery than the separatists (word makes me want to gag) were, but weren't quite in the league of the Russian Army pros. I found that account of Grad fire on a Ukrainian unit camped out parade ground style to be horrifying, but it doubtless drove home the lessons of dispersion and digging in--in a way no one will ever forget.

 

Regards,

 

John Kettler

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Ukrainian artillery fire apparently has better spotters in place, better coordination of fire with ground forces, and at least a few US made counter battery fire control systems.

It appears that only 3 US counter-battery radars have been delivered to Ukraine up until now. One was lost to rebel artillery fire right away, one had suffered a system failure/breakdown, and the final one was captured by the rebels... so I would be careful in projecting the impact of these systems on the actual fighting.

Separatists have complained bitterly about the results of this, whereas the Ukrainian soldiers have generally found the separatist artillery strikes to be comparatively ineffective. Even in Debaltseve, which was leveled by Russian artillery, it did not break the defenders the way Ukrainian artillery has repeatedly broken up separatist/Russian attacks.

I would be careful when speaking for Ukrainian soldiers and rebel fighters. I am sure that both had found the enemy artillery to be quite a nuisance. If the rebel artillery was so ineffective, then how the hell did they capture major population centers from well entrenched foes? At the same time, Ukrainian artillery had definitely inflicted heavy losses on the rebels as well... no question about it.

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Steve,

 

Here's another nail for the "pro Russian separatists rose up and seized Crimea" coffin. Somebody posted this in a vehicular wall breeching (BTR-80A at 4:15) thread. But just look comes rolling sailing through the portico and is clearly visible up close at 1:10 A Tigr with a big red Russian Army star on the door! The next two in the column have the damning national marking painted out. Thought you'd get a kick out this. 

 

John, this video had been released almost a year ago. I am not sure what you are trying to prove here. I don't think that anyone familiar with this subject matter would be surprised to learn that Russian SSO units had captured key government building in Simferopol on Feb 27th. As I've said a few pages back - it is not coincidental that Feb 27th has been established as Russian SSO day earlier this week...

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DreDay,

 

I know the video is old. As I said, it was provided in a separate thread, but I noticed something in it. Since Steve seems to be forever fighting the "no Russian soldiers (other than "vacationers" and the "lost") were or are in Ukraine," I thought the red star emblazoned Tigr would be a great piece of evidence to the contrary. I'd not seen the vid myself, because it's hard to hunt for vids when you don't speak the language. Sure, I make a find now and again, but unless someone gives me another same language and topic vid as a starting point, it's hard to dig effectively. I don't have either Ukrainian or Russian language skills, you see. And I just got through looking up SSO, a formation of which I knew nothing. Unsurprisingly, when I read it, your reference to SSO day was meaningless, other than it meant something to you and some here. Speaking of SSO, this article should never have been published. The lack of headers and subheads, together with unfortunate use of present tense for many SU related historical matters, make it look like the KGB is still alive and well and that a SpecOps SWAT unit is somehow going to be able to take down all manner of key enemy facilities and personnel! Says so here.

 

"According to the project, the KSO will consist of the following: a Defense Ministry special-purpose center called Senezh, which would answer directly to the minister; a SWAT team from one of the military districts; a helicopter squadron from the Center for Deployment and Retraining of Military Pilots (TsBP) at the Torzhok Air Base; and a squadron of transport Il-76s from the Migalovo airfield near Tver.

"The KSO will be charged with carrying out emergency missions, such as freeing hostages on enemy territory, evacuating citizens from local conflict zones, and liquidating band formations. In a large-scale war, these commandos would be the ones to take out the enemy leadership, strategic sites, communication hubs, launch facilities for nuclear missiles, etc."

 

For someone trying to understand how things are, this article is confusing and quite irritating. The larger issue is? 

 

Much of the time, I feel as though I'm drinking from the fire hydrant, and there are oh so many informational paths to explore and things to talk about. I can and do get lost, at times not being able to find my own post in a thread from one or more days prior. This forum is less like reading a book than it is trying to keep up with a set, of randomly numbered encyclopedias early in the process and in constant flux. Much of the time, I find it's written in a language I at best partially understand. Please bear with me. 

 

Regards,

 

John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler

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John, I can completely appreciate and identify with what you are saying. It is extremely difficult, and many scholars would say "completely impossible" to study and analyze the policies of foreign states without knowing their language and having some on-site exposure to their culture. I very much appreciate you acknowledging this point.

 

I did not mean to criticize your post, but rather to point out that Russian SSO (and other spec ops and VDV units) involvement in annexation of Crimea is pretty much a given; and no serious scholar/observer would try to debate that... Of course, that does not contradict the fact that the overwhelming majority of Crimeans wanted nothing to do with Ukraine post-Maidan either...

Edited by DreDay

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How much credence do you give this "interview"? Initially I thought he was captured and debriefed under pressure, but it seems he is actually making it on ukrainian television.

 

When someone is open about "HQ and troops lived in separate realities" I tend to believe them. The "black as negroes" comment im not sure about, if he is making fun of the rumour or actually trying to confirm it.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=du-HxvAJVxo&feature=youtu.be

Edited by Schmoly War

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John,

This is a formal warning. Post anything more like that and I will ban you for 4 days. I made it ABUNDANTLY CLEAR that this thread is not a broad ranging discussion about the politics and topics like Crimea. Especially what you said because even Putin has said his forces invaded (albeit after months of lying), so what the heck is there to debate? Nothing. What is there to say that we don't already know? Nothing. So please stop doing it. I will not warn you again.

And here is an example why I am being so hard headed about posts like yours:

Person A brings Crimea into the discussion as a topic instead of something made in passing. Person B then responds with points of disagreement to that topic in a direct way, not in passing either. Then Person C sees something in either A or B's posts that he wishes to reinforce or challenge and all of a sudden we are on a different set of rails headed in an entirely different direction. I'll demonstrate:

Of course, that does not contradict the fact that the overwhelming majority of Crimeans wanted nothing to do with Ukraine post-Maidan either...

I could debate this point, quite successfully I think, but this is not the place or time for it. Yet the temptation to challenge something that one believes to be false or (as in this case) overstated is very hard to resist. To prove my point, I just deleted a paragraph response to this statement :D

It doesn't mean the topic of Crimea's seizure and subsequent annexation aren't important, it simply means they are not on-topic material for this thread. Instead of me letting this thread descend into a free-for-all discussion or locking it, I am option for the third option and that is strict moderation. If someone can't, or won't, comply then it is a 4 day holiday from posting.

Steve

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It appears that only 3 US counter-battery radars have been delivered to Ukraine up until now. One was lost to rebel artillery fire right away, one had suffered a system failure/breakdown, and the final one was captured by the rebels... so I would be careful in projecting the impact of these systems on the actual fighting.

I had not heard the details of these systems in use, I only posited that they were a contributing factor to Ukraine's apparent effective control of their artillery. Even if, as it seems from your info, their contribution was temporary.

 

I would be careful when speaking for Ukrainian soldiers and rebel fighters. I am sure that both had found the enemy artillery to be quite a nuisance.

Of course taking low level sources as gospel is a really bad idea. I look for patterns from them and combine that with other information. That includes changes over time. Earlier the Ukrainians were suffering pretty significant losses from artillery alone. That does not seem to be the case now. The separatists, on the other hand, went the other way around. At first they weren't talking about taking major casualties from artillery, now they are.

At a low level the earlier battles had Ukrainian soldiers calling into Ukraine TV saying they were being slaughtered. Now you see them interviewed and they smile when talking about how ineffective the enemy artillery fire is. Likewise, earlier in the conflict the separatist fighters scoffed at how badly aimed, timed, and concentrated the Ukrainian fire was. Now they aren't scoffing as much and the pictures/reports I'm reading show why that is.

In this case I don't think the separatist/Russian artillery has gotten worse, rather I think Ukrainians have gotten better at defending against it. This includes significant improvements in counter battery fire. As an example of that, a recent report (with some video) shows that the separatists have mounted mortars in truck beds so they (presumably) can move them out before getting clobbered with return fire.

 

If the rebel artillery was so ineffective, then how the hell did they capture major population centers from well entrenched foes?

Like what? They leveled Debaltseve with artillery, absolutely, but the reason they captured this minor population area from well entrenched foes is they were effectively cut off from supply and were ground assaulted by a vastly superior force that was outside of the protection of their own artillery (aside from a few towed guns in the area).

 

At the same time, Ukrainian artillery had definitely inflicted heavy losses on the rebels as well... no question about it.

This is the main point to focus on. The post I responded to said the inverse, which is what I was challenging. I will again state that I believe Ukraine's artillery is the most effective tool they have on the battlefield today. Not because everything else sucks, but because the artillery is being very well handled. The separatists, on the other hand, can show no similar pattern of success for their artillery efforts.

Steve

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I could debate this point, quite successfully I think, but this is not the place or time for it. Yet the temptation to challenge something that one believes to be false or (as in this case) overstated is very hard to resist. To prove my point, I just deleted a paragraph response to this statement :D

It doesn't mean the topic of Crimea's seizure and subsequent annexation aren't important, it simply means they are not on-topic material for this thread. Instead of me letting this thread descend into a free-for-all discussion or locking it, I am option for the third option and that is strict moderation. If someone can't, or won't, comply then it is a 4 day holiday from posting.

Steve

 

Fair enough sir. I was not aware of the forum's policy on discussing Crimea so please accept my apologies. Rules are rules!  However, if you do want to debate it further; please feel free to PM me. It's always nice to hear from you even though we happen to disagree on this matter very strongly.

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This is the main point to focus on. The post I responded to said the inverse, which is what I was challenging. I will again state that I believe Ukraine's artillery is the most effective tool they have on the battlefield today. Not because everything else sucks, but because the artillery is being very well handled. The separatists, on the other hand, can show no similar pattern of success for their artillery efforts.

Steve

Nor the Russians, which for me is a pretty interesting aspect of this.  Sure Russia could bring in more arty if they are willing to keep pushing the escalation factor (which they probably are).  I seriously doubt separatist arty capability and your earlier posts seemed to indicate you think this as well, the more sophisticated arty fire control is run by the Russians.

 

One question regarding that.  Coordination of artillery fire in the attack is a particularly different situation than in the defense.  How much do you think a lack of coordination is behind the effectiveness of UKR arty on the separatist attacks?

 

The trend from what I can see is the UKR arty is effective at breaking up separatist attacks.  I am not sure it shows the same degree of effect regarding Russians regular forces.  Is the forming up and assault doctrine and practice of Russian forces simply that much better that UKR artillery isn't given the same opportunity?  Russian regular forces seem to be much better at infiltration and closing with the enemy to make it much harder to effectively deploy defensive fires. Better opsec? More dispersed attacking forces?

 

One additional note- I have seen very little coming from the UKR side about effective counter battery fire from the Russians.  Any thoughts on why that is?

Edited by sburke

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I had not heard the details of these systems in use, I only posited that they were a contributing factor to Ukraine's apparent effective control of their artillery. Even if, as it seems from your info, their contribution was temporary.

Of course taking low level sources as gospel is a really bad idea. I look for patterns from them and combine that with other information. That includes changes over time. Earlier the Ukrainians were suffering pretty significant losses from artillery alone. That does not seem to be the case now. The separatists, on the other hand, went the other way around. At first they weren't talking about taking major casualties from artillery, now they are.

At a low level the earlier battles had Ukrainian soldiers calling into Ukraine TV saying they were being slaughtered. Now you see them interviewed and they smile when talking about how ineffective the enemy artillery fire is. Likewise, earlier in the conflict the separatist fighters scoffed at how badly aimed, timed, and concentrated the Ukrainian fire was. Now they aren't scoffing as much and the pictures/reports I'm reading show why that is.

I get what you are saying. Yes the prefromance of Ukranian artillery has definitely improved compared to the summer battles. That's expected as they got more experience... Same can probably be said for the rebels as well. However the high losses inflicated on the rebels (prior to the encirlement of Debaltseve when the tide had turned) are probably more due to the fact that the rebels were attacking on the open ground, while the Ukrainian defenders were well entreched.

In this case I don't think the separatist/Russian artillery has gotten worse, rather I think Ukrainians have gotten better at defending against it. This includes significant improvements in counter battery fire. As an example of that, a recent report (with some video) shows that the separatists have mounted mortars in truck beds so they (presumably) can move them out before getting clobbered with return fire.

The practice of mounting mortars into civilian trucks/vans has been utilized by both sides in this conflict since its very begging. However at this point it is looked down upon by both sides, as such conspicuous vehicles are generally blamed for indiscriminate shelling and associated civilian casualties. Those types of vehicles are precisely what are referred to as a “third force” by both sides. Pulling off that trick now is a good way to get yourself shot by either Ukrainian National Guard or rebel MGP/Military Police.

Like what? They leveled Debaltseve with artillery, absolutely, but the reason they captured this minor population area from well entrenched foes is they were effectively cut off from supply and were ground assaulted by a vastly superior force that was outside of the protection of their own artillery (aside from a few towed guns in the area).

This is the main point to focus on. The post I responded to said the inverse, which is what I was challenging. I will again state that I believe Ukraine's artillery is the most effective tool they have on the battlefield today. Not because everything else sucks, but because the artillery is being very well handled. The separatists, on the other hand, can show no similar pattern of success for their artillery efforts.

Oh I don’t know… maybe like all the townships around Debaltseve (Uglegorsk, Nikoshino, etc…) and all the controlling heights around the passways to Debaltseve. Are you saying that rebel artillery did not play a major role in those battles? Yes Ukrainian artillery might be their strongest asset, but everything else does absolutely suck on their end as the recent fighting has shown… and guess what – it’s the strongest asset for the rebels as well and everything sucks on their end as well; but with one notable exception – they had been able to master up enough assault teams to take the strategic positions that I had mentioned earlier, while the Ukrainians could not even accomplish that…

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One additional note- I have seen very little coming from the UKR side about effective counter battery fire from the Russians. Any thoughts on why that is?

I have a thought on that, I don't mean to be rude, but you simply don't seem to follow the conflict closely enough to see what you describe. There have been plenty of videos of Ukrainian artillery positions pounded by rebel artillery. How would you expect the rebels to advance and to clear the Debaltseve pocket without neutralizing enemy artillery? Has that ever been accomplished in military history? Ever? Do you know that Russian military observers refer to the Debaltseve operation as an "offensive by artillery"? Why do you thik that is? And I have no idea how many (if any) of rebel artillery units were Russian proper; but I do know for a fact that there is simply not enough credible evidence to universally refer to them as "Russian".

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I have a thought on that, I don't mean to be rude, but you simply don't seem to follow the conflict closely enough to see what you describe. There have been plenty of videos of Ukrainian artillery positions pounded by rebel artillery. How would you expect the rebels to advance and to clear the Debaltseve pocket without neutralizing enemy artillery? Has that ever been accomplished in military history? Ever? Do you know that Russian military observers refer to the Debaltseve operation as an "offensive by artillery"? Why do you thik that is? And I have no idea how many (if any) of rebel artillery units were Russian proper; but I do know for a fact that there is simply not enough credible evidence to universally refer to them as "Russian".

Well I am not going to get drawn too far into that, I think Steve's analysis of why the battle at Debaltseve changed from trying to close the bag to a more frontal assault speaks to the inability to stop UKR artillery. 

 

And I do follow it.  Perhaps not from listening to the same sources as you do.  As to credible evidence, there is more than enough.  Way more than enough.

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Well I am not going to get drawn too far into that, I think Steve's analysis of why the battle at Debaltseve changed from trying to close the bag to a more frontal assault speaks to the inability to stop UKR artillery.

I don't want to dwell on this too much either, but I fail to see how a frontal assault on fortified urban area (which had only occurred after capturing the key positions around it, btw..) would be any easier than other kinds of operations without suppressing enemy artillery first.

And I do follow it. Perhaps not from listening to the same sources as you do. As to credible evidence, there is more than enough. Way more than enough.

I am sure that you do, I did not mean to contest that. Do you have a functional comprehension of Russian and Ukrainian? Unfortunately it is extremely difficult to get anything close to an objective picture without having access to sources from those countries... I am not quite sure what you are referring to when claiming that there is "more than enough evidence". Are you talking about general Russian involvement and their covert (and sometimes very overt) support for the rebels? In that case I would definitely agree. However, if you are implying that Russian armed forces had played a major role in the latest battles; then no - there is not enough evidence yet to support it. We (myself included) suspect that, but there is just not enough solid evidence as of now..

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Steve,

 

My profound apologies! I wasn't trying to go haring off in some wild direction; rather to share something I thought you'd enjoy and maybe find useful. Clearly, I shall have to temper my enthusiasm should I find something else like that again. For sure, I won't be posting it on the CMBS Forum. Just so I know, would the GDF be okay? The last thing I want is a 4-day ban!

 

I can, though, speak to the separatists mounting mortars on trucks, though I'm not at all sure it was Debalsteve and probably wasn't. Previously, someone found a rather dark vid of a Vasilek being fired from the back of a truck. This is either better quality or a different crew and portee, if you will. Here, the imagery is crisp, clear and relatively well lit. It's apparent the cargo area of the truck has improvised two layer armor with high walls and observation/firing slits cut through them. Several clips of Vasilek ammo get blasted toward Ukrainian National Guard positions in record time, after which the weapon is covered with canvas and the mortar carrier skedaddles. Being on the receiving end of that many mortar bombs in that short a time period must be hard to take. Also of interest, I believe, is the SpecOps helmet being worn by one of the crew and prominently in view at 1:10. A closer look reveals, in that same frame, what appears to be heavy duty body armor on the gentleman in the center of the image. Looks as though it's got something akin to a SAPI plate/s in it. The poster on YT was kind enough to post translated captions, too. Vid apparently covers combat on November 13, 2014.

 

 

Interestingly, about a week later, per DOD, the US delivered three lightweight counter mortar radars to Ukraine. It took some digging, but it turns out the CM radars aren't Hughes (now Raytheon?) AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder radars I expected to see, but instead are something called the LCMR (Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar), AN/TPQ-48A ,which is man portable and was originally developed for US Special Forces. I'm not sure what this Novorussian vid shows, but it assuredly isn't the LCMR. Info on AN/TPQ-48 here. As you can see, it's not at all big. In addition to locating mortars, it can also track rockets! Nothing is said about ability to deal with conventional artillery, for which the TPQ-48A's 10 km range is probably insufficient. In addition to the vid, a Novorussian site, Military Observer, explicitly talks about the arrival of the systems, the expectation they'll got straight to the ATO, their capabilities and their likely impact on combat vs UKR and their impact on Novorussian tactics. 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEQw05V2ug4

 

The vid does have this fascinating comment, which explicitly references the fall of Debaltseve. Comment went up 6 days ago. 

 

(The first link on comment shows a purported shipping case for one of the LCMRs, but the other one is a formal United States of America Letter of Notification Formal Drawdown, which explicitly states the President authorized the US Army to supply the Government of Ukraine with three LCMRs from US Army stocks, of a total of 20 planned).
 

So read above, the US DOD sent 3 counter mortar radar systems in Nov 2014. Well guess who has them now, the Separatists. Separatists found the cases in Debaltseve after the Ukraine military surrendered and left.
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B-R6sDFIgAEfNNh.png
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B-R6rD6IUAAOmtH.jpg

 

Regards,

 

John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler

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How much credence do you give this "interview"? Initially I thought he was captured and debriefed under pressure, but it seems he is actually making it on ukrainian television.

That is a great interview. For sure there is more than a little truth. But always be careful what lower level commanders say they know vs. what they actually know. Some things happened, for sure, that could not have been possible without "sector HQ" being involved. How much of the pullout was directed from the front and how much from behind is not a question I feel can be answered, but for sure it was not all one or the other. My gut says the decision to withdraw them was not made by the 128th commander, just the timing of it was. He said something like "I don't care when you think we should come out, we're coming out now. Better back us up or this will be a disaster". If you look at the facts and the interview, this position fits both.

I don't know why you should be surprised to see that in Ukrainian media. Despite the pro-Russian perception that Ukraine's media is the same as Russian media, the evidence shows the situation to be the opposite. Video and print interviews with soldiers and lower level commanders having nothing but bad things to say about their higher levels of command are COMMON. In fact, it is hard to find any interviews where there isn't scathing criticism for the higher levels of command. In fact, they aired live cellphone calls from soldiers who were hit hard by Russian artillery in June where the soldiers were screaming that they were being slaughtered and nobody was helping them. Imagine separatist and Russian military saying even 1/10th of this on Russian prime time media. You'd need a very good imagination to picture that!

Here's another video taken as the withdrawal was happening. I can't understand the words, but the body language and vocalizations are pretty obvious. A friend gave me the gist of what they said and it was mostly directed at the higher levels of command:

 

When someone is open about "HQ and troops lived in separate realities" I tend to believe them.

Yes, and this has been the problem since the very beginning. It seems to be getting better, but the lower level commanders are improving faster. This is actually a fairly normal process. Lowest learn first through the most brutal form of natural selection, the mid level learns next and also is exposed to death for mistakes, the highest level learns the slowest because they can play politics to avoid dismissal. Though in Stalin's days unnatural selection was a part of the process :D

The "black as negroes" comment im not sure about, if he is making fun of the rumour or actually trying to confirm it.

Definitely joking. You could hear them laughing.

Steve

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