“Rebels” adjusting artillery fire with a drone.

Yeah, “rebels” who just happened to be in Russian uniform. What are the  odds. The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine in the eastern regions of Ukraine has been characterized by heavy, heavy use of artillery. Any time either side attempts to mass decisive combat power, the other pounds it with artillery. Sadly, the Russians have done a better job. While they lack the sophistication of UAVs like our MQ-1 Predator or MQ-9 Reaper, these commercial off the shelf drones do provide enough information to make terrain feature recognition and artillery adjustment quite feasible.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26zA_Uq4Yxo]

The Lessons of the Russo-Ukraine War

A tipster sent this roundup of lessons from the ongoing slow motion Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

It appears that a page or two is missing from near the end (and it badly needs a copy editor) but provides a good deal of insight into Putin’s army’s tactics, it’s operations, and its strategy. Sadly, it also exposes a good deal of the fecklessness of the US in supporting allies and partner nations in Eastern Europe.

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It goes without saying that the Obama administration has done little to nothing to assauge our allies fears of an expansionist Russia. But it must also be noted that there is little public support for a harder line with Russia. Wearied by a decade and a half of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a seemingly ever increasing number of other hot spots, the US public isn’t eager to face off with Russia, seeing little to gain, and the potential for much to lose.

Lyin' Brian Williams and Hillary's Hokum

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NBC News anchor Brian Williams is being beaten about the cranium and shoulders quite a bit in the last few days.  He deserves every last lump and then some.   He is apparently taking a few days away.  Perhaps he hopes that, when he returns, people will have forgotten all about the fact that he is a despicable liar who cannot be trusted to tell the straight story about anything.  Juan Williams, formerly of NPR and hardly a solid Republican, believes this will be the end of either Williams, if he is fired, or NBC News if he is not.  He had a point.   NBC knew that Brian Williams’ account of his experience in Iraq was a fabrication, and had even warned him to knock off perpetuating the lie.  But, of course, he persisted.  And now he is due all the scorn that comes his way.  Reporting on Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Williams’ accounts of the horrors in his area of the French Quarter are also likely hogwash.  His dramatic description of a body floating by face down, and other lurid stories (contracting dysentery) never happened.  How do we know?  The area around his hotel never flooded, and nobody responsible for mass medical care can recall ANYONE having a reported case of dysentery (a sentinel disease) throughout Katrina.  NBC knew these facts, as well, and issued no retraction.

Williams and Jeffrey Lord (American Spectator), guests on Hannity (which I don’t normally listen to, but was waiting at a highway exit and had little else to do) on Friday, also thought that the increased focus on those who are found to be lying about their “combat experiences” will turn back toward presumptive Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.  At issue again is Hillary’s tall tale about landing “under sniper fire” in Bosnia, and the ceremony that was supposedly canceled because of the extreme danger.

Below is an image of Hillary covering the fire-swept ground on her way to the protection of a bunker.

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Here is a still image from the dramatic combat footage of the same incident.

Hillary Bosnia

For all the contempt for the US Military  expressed by the far-left, they sure seem to want to paint themselves into the tales of combat against our enemies.   The RNC should play a continuous loop of Sheryl Attkisson’s CBS report about Hillary’s fabrications between now and 2016.   (Yes, that Sheryl Attkisson.  The one who wanted the truth about Benghazi which cost her job forthwith.)  Hillary claims she was sleep-deprived, incidentally, and that was the reason she lied through her teeth.   Let’s hope when the next “three in the morning” call comes she is not as sleep-deprived then, and whoever is on the other end of the line will have better luck than Ambassador Stevens.   And that the results of that call will be reported a tad more honestly than was Benghazi, by people more honest than Brian Williams and Hillary Clinton.

But don’t bet on it.

Oh, and in my haste, I forgot the most important thing.  H/T to Delta Bravo.

The Ukrainian Counterattack

With the hubub over the MH17 shootdown, and the Hamas-Israeli War in the Gaza strip, we tend to forget that there’s quite an actual campaign going on in Ukraine.

For the time being, it appears Ukraine has accepted the loss of Crimea to Russia as something of a fait accompli.

But the pro-Russian separatists trying to cleave “independent republics” from eastern Ukraine, while initially quite successful, have lost the initiative, and have been losing ground steadily for two months or so.

CDR Salamander takes a look at the situation.

http://xbradtc.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/e7fc4-sqzthepocket.jpg

Put your JPME to good work there shipmate. Look at what has happened in the last two months.
1. Ukraine secured its maritime territory.
2. Ukraine managed to re-establish control over most of its borders  – though in a thin salient in some places. Not firm control as we know traffic is getting through, but at least partial control to the point they are willing to claim it.
3. They are pushing to widen the salient in the south while increasing its SE bulge, pushing north along the Russian border.
4. From the north, they are pushing south along the Russian border.
5. Yes kiddies, we have a classic pincer movement to envelope a pocket of the enemy, nee – a double envelopment at that. As a matter of fact, a secondary double envelopment is about to take place in that middle thumb centered on Lysychansk – or at least there is an opportunity for one.

He’s certainly right that the thumb at Lysychansk looks ripe for the picking.  Unfortunately, there doesn’t really appear to be a decent road network for Ukraine to use to execute a pincer movement.

The Thumb

There’s some in the area, but ideally you’d want a good east-west road across the base of the thumb to exploit, but there doesn’t appear to be one.

Further, on the southern side, the Ukraine forces are likely to push north, rather than east, to gain room to maneuver, rather than attempt a deeper flanking movement. That long salient exposed to the Russian border would make any general think twice.

What impact the shootdown of MH17 will have going forward, I don’t know. But it’s hard to see it inspiring greater support for the separatists.

If you look at the names on the map, this is an area that has known more time of war than of peace through the ages. But we need to remember this warfare today is certainly not on the scale of World War II with masses of millions clashing cataclysmically. This is actually fairly small scale warfare, with troops often numbering in the hundreds, not hundreds of thousands.

SA-11/17 Buk Missile System

By now you’ve seen speculation that the Malaysian Airlines flight in Ukraine was brought down by a “Buk” missile system. The NATO code name for this system is either SA-11 GADFLY or SA-17 GRIZZLY for the follow-on variant. The Russian (and Ukraine) name for the system is “Buk.”

 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSXMhaFntrU]

Both Russia and Ukraine operate the Buk. And the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine claim to have captured some.

File:Buk-M1-2 air defence system in 2010.jpg

A Buk battery consists of a command post vehicle, a surveillance radar vehicle, several  launcher vehicles, and vehicles carrying reloads. But the SA-11/17 can be fired and guided solely from its launcher vehicle, without integrating with the command post and surveillance radar.

The system is highly mobile, and intended to provide air defense for army formations in the field, though Ukraine does also use it as a portion of their fixed national air defense network protecting its cities and critical infrastructure.