Tuesday, May 10, 2022

WYS ≠ WYG: How you Know The King Is Dead

h/t Common Cents blog


A few pointers on this clip from ITV:

1) This is a militia artillery unit. So what? My posted estimate at BCE's place was that it would take a very short time, far less than expected, to train raw recruits to operate field artillery competently. My estimate was a few days for the artillery itself, and a couple of weeks to shake out the fire direction head shed. I was earnestly assured by a commenter at BCE's blog it would take far longer, months and months, to do so. Yet here we have a battery at two months, tops, doing as well as any experienced military unit would do. TL;DR: I win again. Days, not months and months.

2) By leveraging the use of drones for fire direction, something that was in its infancy in my day,

a) they don't need to push Forward Observers out into harm's way

b) they can operate and target well beyond their own FLOT (Forward Line Of Troops)

c) their fire direction corrections can be made seamlessly, in real time, without relay, taking artillery from being indirect fire, to being very nearly direct fire. Their own FDC is calling their own corrections, and they can do BDA simultaneously.

d) anything in their range fan that their drone(s) can see, they can bring under fire, almost immediately. Their only limitation is the NV/thermal capabilities of their drones; the artillery can fire 24/7/365.

Nota bene

3) Russian counter-battery fire is virtually NIL. For the novices out there: This is YUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGE.

It obviously happens, else they wouldn't all run to their bunkers right after a fire mission. 

But so rarely as to be inconsequential.

Blue Force Cold War doctrine was to expect OPFOR to start erasing the grid you were in within 2 minutes of firing. That's not happening here. Nor anything remotely close.

How do we know that?

a) They aren't hooking the field pieces up to prime mover trucks at light speed after "rounds complete", and then hauling ass a mile or more away within 90 seconds of last round downrange. Conclusion: they aren't doing it because counter-battery almost never happens.

b) They're running to bunker shelters. I'll say that again: They're running to bunker shelters. Which aren't chewed all to hell by the constant accurate incoming Russian counter-battery fire. Conclusion: because it doesn't happen.

c) They have those bunkers at all, because they're disciplined enough to build them, and more importantly, because they had the leisure time to bother, because they've been firing from the same positions for so long, it was worth the time and effort to bother. Conclusion: Because there's been no counter-battery fire whatsoever, and they haven't had to displace anywhere in a big ass hurry, not even once, in days and DAYS and DAYS.

Inescapable Conclusion:

Once-vaunted Russian grid-square erasing counter-battery Armageddon beloved of 1980s tech fiction is so f**king rare in Ukraine as to be virtually non-existent. You're more likely to find Bigfoot in a Ukraine forest poition than an exploding Russian artillery shell.

The former Russian King Of Battle is impotent.


If it were otherwise, those militia guns would have been smoking heaps of scrap, and those shelters blown asunder to kindling, with a fresh paint job of cannon-cocker blood-and-guts paté splattered hither and yon. Russian artillery is manifestly completely dickless, unless they're shelling non-movable cities and civilian targets, and hitting to minute of Mariupol on schools, factories, and apartment complexes only because those things can't run very fast.

Russian counter-battery capability has been degraded to non-existence, for all practical purposes. If it were otherwise, the ITV video would have been a snippet stating "ITV news team missing somewhere near  front-line positions in eastern Ukraine."

So, minus any help from what was once the foremost cudgel of the entire Russian military order of battle, to the point that amateurs are pwning Vlad's minions 24/7/365, see if you can guess why the Russian troops in Ukraine can't fight their way out of a wet paper bag, and have been relegated to shelling the living hell out of soft, non-movable civilian targets for two months.

FTR, I assumed the Ukes would need time to get their FOs up to speed, and instead they made them completely superfluous. 

I also took the common assumption that the Russians were barely competent at counter-battery fire at face value, but obviously, from first-hand evidence, they're about as good at counter-battery fires now as they are at running cruisers in the Black Sea, or attacking a short distance on mutiple axes of advance, while keeping their front lines well-supplied with fuel, food, and bullets: i.e. which is obviously not at all, based purely on the evidence of anyone's lying eyes.

I can pick that much info up from a less than 7 minute video; ITV didn't figure it out after being there live to film it. And all the gainsaying and Putin-cheering can't change those realities on the ground.

Those "Go Putin!" and "The Plan Is Working!" comments from those whose only uniform time was as a parking valet aren't aging well in light of ground realities on the front lines of a war. But you can't use facts and common sense to argue people out of positions they didn't use facts and common sense to get to in the first place.


Andy said...

Because Western media would never stage a battery mission in permissive territory to craft a narrative.

Landroll said...

I would say your analysis of Ukraine vs Russian artillery is spot on. Seeing their guns were not dug in and sand bagged amazed me. In the spicy times and places I spent a year in the sixties, if you weren't shooting or maintaining you were sandbagging or making like a mole.

Anonymous said...

You said 2 weeks. He said 2 months. He was closer. Sorry you lose.

elysianfield said...

" Andy said...
Because Western media would never stage a battery mission in permissive territory to craft a narrative."

Exactly. On the Internets, no one can hear you laugh....

Everything that Aesop says is accurate...if the clip is as described.

Aesop said...

When Air Farce brassholes couldn't explain how they were reporting so many destroyed trucks on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, without finding a single truck chassis there the next day, the brassholes invented the Giant Laotian Truck Eater. Which was shorthand for "we know we're full of shit." You could be right, and the Russians are tear-assing up mountains of Ukrainian artillery all the live-long day, 24/7 since 2/24/2022; all you'd have to do would be show the class your video(s) of that. Instead, you're telling us about the Giant Ukrainian Artillery Eater.
-50 points for unabashed gainsaying, +10 pts for sheer brazen chutzpah for trying it.
And maybe you should look up the origin and meaning of the phrase,
"The grapes were probably sour anyways."

@Anonymous 9:59A,
They didn't start doing this just now, they've been at it for quite some time, long enough for their CO to have built up quite the rep, so they were clearly proficient long before five minutes ago.
Time and physics still works as it always has.
So I still win.

Andy said...

I'm not saying I'm right or wrong, just that if the first casualty in war is truth, we have to be sober about what we know and what we don't.

Media presentations are inadmissible as evidence in the court of reality.

RedLeg said...

Twenty years busting steel on target, and I can't argue with any of this.
Russia's artillery is a paper tiger. Looks like all they've got going for them are rocket troops miles and miles from the front lines, and they're only hitting area targets with them, not doing sweep-and-zone on Ukrainian battery positions.

Plague Monk said...

I've been following Wretchard the Cat's Twitter analysis, and found this long read a little while ago on the Ukes using Starlink to outfight the Russkies.
I can see the doctoral dissertations to come on this war in the next few years; I wish that i was young enough to be able to do one myself.
I'd also like a pony...

Aesop said...

That level of agnosticism is simply ridiculous.
You're welcome to argue - from evidence - that a video is fake.
You cannot, absent all evidence, argue that all evidence is fake.

Andy said...

Not saying it's fake or it isn't. Just saying I'm slightly less sanguine about drawing conclusions based on what the media is presenting.

When I say I don't trust one damn word out of their mouths, I mean I don't trust one damn word out of their mouths.

And I am prepared to accept ridicule for that on the internet.

RandyGC said...

First thing I wondered when I first saw the arty emplacement was "where are the trucks?" While he mentioned they were much more worried about air strikes (MANPADS in the area anyone?), it says a lot about Russian Counter Battery RADAR an their (lack of) coordination with Frontal Aviation that a Frogfoot isn't raining fire on them within a minute or two. Combined Arms my ass.

I loved how the reporter made a big deal about how much bigger the 155 guns were than the 152s . I'm more familiar with the weapons effects of MK-84s and TLAMS, but I don't thing the 3MM difference is going to have a practical difference on the receiving end.

The difference is going to be in the improved logistics/maintenance readiness of the guns, accuracy, and not only the amount, but the variety and quality, of the available shells.

side note; supposedly the 152MM (and other ammo types) was standardized on by the Soviets to allow them to use their Ammo in western guns, but not vice versa. Decreased accuracy, but you just shoot more to saturate the area. Quite probably Cold War RUMORINT, but I can see the Soviets thinking that way.

Aesop said...

You're a know-nothing, by intent. Why even comment? Srsly.
The difference between you and a Russian bot is...what, exactly?
Solipsism is a fool's security blanket.

Exactamundo. There is ZERO co-ordination, and they have no counter-battery radar (and/or it probably works about as well as their trucks and tanks).
And the stories about how abysmal Russian comms are seem to be understating that problem by several orders of magnitude. I have to wonder if their ground guys can even communicate with their air guys, unless they're both texting in the clear on cell phones.

The biggest danger to Ukraine is that if this goes on for several more years, the Russians may kill off all their incompetents, and they may then actually start to improve.
At this point, they look like high-functioning retards directing conscripts with second-rate equipment.
The miracle at this point is that the Russians had any success at all, even early on. After about Day Three, they behaved like a puppy that caught a car, and then didn't know what to do with it.

The functional military incompetence of the ITV crew is the hallmark of authenticity. They're every reporter I've ever met talking about anything to do with weapons, from pocket knives to B-2 bomber squadrons or battleships. They were just workaday media schlubs, and what they showed but didn't say revealed far more intel than anything spoken by the correspondent or interviewees.

docfromjerusalem said...

I think that the Ukranian leadership is much to blame for the current state of affairs and the mounting loss of lives.

There are other possible interpretations of this propaganda video. For example, if all the precautions the military pundits note are lacking, perhaps the guns are: 1- not on the front line; 2- not bothering the major Russian thrust.

Aesop said...

1) Thank you for succinctly stating the "That Slut Was Asking To Be Raped!" argument.
2) I'm pretty sure that Russia is overwhelmingly to blame for the mounting loss of lives, including on their own side. If Ukraine had launched an all-out invasion of Russia, you might perhaps have a leg to stand on, forensically.
3) When last I looked, any time in the last nearly 80 days, the Ukrainian people disagreed with your interpretation rather vehemently.
4) Occam's Razor dictates that before you can call it a "propaganda" video, you have to present your case for same. Until such time, you assume facts not in evidence. Merely alleging the crime is not tantamount to proving it.
5) It's artillery. You don't put artillery "on the front line". Since about 1910.
6) What "major Russian thrust"? See #4, above, regarding "facts not in evidence".
7) When last I looked, China, Russia, and even India had robust satellite space programs. Presenting even one such satellite photograph of a dummy artillery emplacement (constructed solely for this 7-minute photo op, besides being recockulous prima facie), would undo the whole charade pretty conclusively. (Google "Powers U-2 Incident" and "Cuban Missile Crisis" to see what that looks like when the world sees photographs of your country with egg all over its face.)
8) At last report, Ukraine didn't have the manpower, artillery, ammunition, etc., to spare on concocting Potemkin artillery batteries, and merely wishing such a project into existence will not suffice to prove the argument. This is explanation on the level of "fake" moon landings, chemtrail conspiracies, global warming, and 9/11 as an inside job levels of tinfoil millinery.

So, did you really want to talk about the weather...

Anonymous said...

If the Ukes are doing all this winning and are so far advanced, there is no Ruskie counter-strikes of any sort, why aren't the Ukes in Moscow yet?

Aesop said...

1) If you read it again with your eyes open, you might notice that no one anywhere said the Ukes were winning.
2) If you could get through it without moving your lips, you'd also note that no one said they were "so far advanced".
3) Someone smarter than you could perhaps explain the difference to you between "no counter-battery fire" and "no counter strikes of any sort". One of these things is not like the other, and only one of them was actually the substance of the post.
4) As the Ukrainian effort has been entirely defensive, and they've never invaded Russia, you might be able to grasp that being in Moscow was never something they were even contemplating, and thus answer your rhetorical and jackassical question.
5) If you really were too stupid to know any of that, and were asking seriously, you may pick up the pieces of your ass, staple them back on, and depart with our sincere wishes that the Wizard comes through on that Brain thing, if you ever manage to make it to the Emerald City.

Rocketguy said...

With US guns comes the opportunity to us US precision rounds. I’m not sure that we would share the Excalibur rocket assisted - satellite guided rounds but the Precision Guidance Kits - the guidance section that fits in a standard 155 fuze well would give them some impressive capabilities. Just lob the round into the “basket” and the size gives you first round accuracy within 10’s of meters. That would work really well with those drones spotting for them.

Anonymous said...

There might be no counter-battery fire because, as Andy hinted (and you quite carefully 'misunderstood'), the Uke artillery is miles away from anything Russian, and firing at nothing.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much 122mm and 152mm ammo is left in the former Eastern Bloc armories and ammo depots?

That stuff is not easy to get rid of, and is expensive and possibly dangerous to safely demilitarize. I bet a lot of those countries sold much of theirs in the last 30 years to almost anybody that wanted it, and probably sold it at a price not much more than the cost of safely handling and transporting the artillery ammunition out of their country.

Just ask the American and British EOD techs that destroyed most of SoDamned Insane's Glorious Iraqi Military Ammunition Depots. Remember those videos of hundreds of thousand of shells being blown in place?

I also think every single one of those former Warsaw Pact countries pledged most of their remaining stores to Ukraine in February, some before and some after the Russian Invasion. Do any of them have the old Soviet era Artillery Shell manufacturing equipment stored away?

Or can they find any supplies in former Soviet client states like Libya, Egypt, Somalia, or others?

Absent the Death of Putin, Abandonment of Ukraine by the West, or some idiot starting a nuclear war? the Russo-Ukraine War is going to continue a long damned time.


Joe in PNG said...

The win conditions for Ukraine are way different than they are for Russia.

Ukraine just has to not lose in order to win. If they can hang on long enough, Russia won't be able to keep up the war.

Russia need to take as much as they could as fast as they could. This would have demoralized the Ukrainians, energized their own people, presented the world with a fait accompli, and would have probably been fine.
But they couldn't do it, and they're stuck with no really good way of winning, or breaking even, or even getting out without losing their shirts.

Anonymous said...

"AnonymousMay 10, 2022 at 9:59 AM
You said 2 weeks. He said 2 months. He was closer. Sorry you lose."

"Four weeks maybe. Ideally double that."

michael in nowhereland said...

Uncle Sugar used to pay me because of my language skills and training to digest training manuals, doctrinal works and the like in the late 80s and early 90s. While the soviets in theory were capable of some significant destruction by arty, initiative and rapid response was not part of their doctrine. Got to spend some time both observing the Russians and interacting with them and the individual efforts and initiative of NCOs and officers was lacking. It seems to me that it has only gotten worse. Unless support (arty. Air, naval) was completely gone would US troops not call in a counter fire mission.

FWIW-most of the team I worked in said the soviets and then Russians were a paper tiger....no one listened to us...because MIC

John Wilder said...

Simply stunning lack of basic capability on the Russian side.

Bear Claw Chris Lapp said...

Aesop I am not a veteran but I know you are correct about what you can do. Pretty sure I could be taught at the same speed today and even when I was younger.

The problem is the young men and women in the military today are not you and me or any of the rest of us. They have been taught to think and do by todays drill sergeants and instructors. Its not the same as when you went through or my nephew in San Diego 7 or 8 years ago. He was medically discharged after a car accident. I want this bullshit to end immediately as well.

The bullshit I'm talking about is the millions and billions our dear leaders are grifting since 2008 of our taxpayer money. Putin is the only one who can end it for now, and I am not 100% convinced he is not in on it. He loses and it gets worse with no end in sight till SHTF over here and that won't happen till the people are starving.

Proof is in the pudding and the ones who could teach it are and have been bailing for a long time.

Aesop said...

@Anon 4:16P,

It was quite clearly understood, and fisked here in about 2 seconds. It's also pure gainsaying on the level of a toddler, from a total dearth of evidence, and extremely unlikely on the face of it. As you could have read if you were keeping up, the Ukes have neither the time nor the space to waste on Potemkin artillery batteries, random Russian strikes mean no place is safe to stage such imaginary dog-and-pony media shows, and even one sat photo of the site of same is Toto revealing the man behind the curtain to the whole world. And you overlook - or more likely, couldn't be bothered to watch in the first place - to your own beclownment, the real-time video shot from their FDC showing the impact area and the scurrying Russian forces under those fires at the other end. Hence the suggestion, absent the slightest proof, is both wrong, and jackassical in the extreme. As is your knee-jerk repetition of same. Better luck when you can speak from evidentiary facts, and not simple juvenile conjecture. The last line of the OP was for you.

@Anon 9:59A,
1) The entire affair has gone on barely 2½ months right this minute.
2) This irregular unit did not spring up overnight out of whole cloth on Day One.
3) They did not get good five minutes before the ITV crew showed up, they've clearly been good for some goodly amount of time prior to last week.
4) Their commander didn't establish his rep with all his men in a single day either.
5) they didn't figure out the drone spotter-adjust fire game last week either.
They have therefore been doing this thing for weeks, and probably only after a couple weeks to form up, draw equipment, and then learn their trade.
That makes a two-month training period completely out of the question in a ten-week (at this point) conflict, and pinches any chance of doing it over even so much as a month down to the wire as well, and makes a two-week train up more likely, not less so, in an active combat zone on the front lines since setting out. Factor in I said what I said nearly three weeks ago, and in reference to looking at the likelihood to train on US systems which, AFAIK, have not even been delivered there to this moment.
These guys were therefore up to speed on that Soviet Cold War era equipment in a couple of weeks, and a month ago.
I got it right, and the other guy overestimated the difficulty, as originally suggested, by an unknown factor, but probably by two to four times actual.

I'm sure a rump militia artillery battery would have liked one to two months prep and training to figure out WTF they were doing, but given a large, but rapidly dwindling number of Russian troops in their grille, that kind of time is neither necessary, nor possible. That sort of span is a peacetime luxury, and a wartime impossibility.