Friday, July 15, 2022

Light, Not Heat


Video presented because it's even-handedly "Just the facts, ma'am."


1) Russia has a lot of artillery shells.

2) They're dumb shells, overwhelmingly from pre-1990 days.

3) Nobody has any wild idea how many.

4) Nobody has any wild idea how many.

5) Shooting a lot of shells is nice.'d that strategy work out for Germany or the Allies on the Western Front from 1914-1917?


6) Shooting a lot of artillery shells is a huuuuuge logistical strain on anyone. Even more so on an army so skilled at wartime logistics that they lost entire mechanized regiments early on because their vehicles simply ran out of gas, and were subsequently abandoned intact.

7) Even Russian ammunition reserves are not infinite, and the glacial pace of their advance despite prodigious ammunition consumption puts a time limit on even their current slow gains. At some point, they have no choice but to cut back, from a host of inescapable factors. Amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics.

7a) Whether their logistical ability to maintain their current artillery expenditures outlasts the Ukrainian forces' ability to resist is precisely the point at issue. We won't bother to point out the multiple fanboy analyses that declared the war was over a month and more ago. Those quotes and posts aren't aging well, and even worse with every passing day. Things can go any which way yet, but it isn't over until it's over, and the Fat Lady hasn't even gotten to the opera house yet.

8) Wear and tear, fuel, and simple time and distance makes trains, trucks, tires, spare parts, and simply feeding drivers as important, if not more than, how much ammunition they can fire, and for how long. If you ain't got it, you can't shoot it.

9) As we tried to tell the fanboys in an earlier post, wear and tear on artillery tubes leads to unavoidable accuracy problems as well, and physics always wins. The Russians can ignore accuracy, and probably will, but they can't ignore the consequences of ignoring accuracy. And they then expend even more shells to even less effect, the longer they continue to do so. C'est la guerre.

10) Russia has always loved artillery, because the math is basic, and once you pull the string, your military worries are over. Unlike with aircraft, tanks, APCs, missiles, trucks, or even conscripts, who still have to be fed, watered, and supplied. Plain Jane artillery works in all weather, 24/7/365, as long as you don't give a damn about accuracy.

"Minute of city? Da, is good enough, comrade."

Russia has demonstrated their total inability to dominate the air, conduct effective combined arms operations, or master maneuver warfare, but they have conclusively shown the unsurprising aptitude for rubble-izing any troops or real estate not able to get out of the way of a rain of HE shells. Gravity is a great help to them in ensuring that their expended artillery rounds do eventually fall to earth...somewhere. But that weight of ordnance has not translated into any amazing breakthroughs, rather instead to ensuring nothing but an endless meatgrinder, and destroying the very territory and population  they claimed to covet with such lovingkindness.

Thus my conclusion at this point is part of a familiar quote to many readers:

"...what counts in war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, or the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count."

Russian artillery is hitting minute-of-city-block.

Ukrainian artillery is hitting minute of tank or APC.

Time will tell which is the better tactic.

That isn't telling you (as I never have) that Zelenskyy will be dictating terms from within sight of the walls of the Kremlin, nor even that Ukraine will "win".

What it does tell you is that Russia is not marching from victory to victory, but rather feeding its own face into a woodchipper just as hard as they're pushing on the Ukrainians. Afghanistan showed they aren't fast learners in that respect, but at some point, a lot of problems go away the minute some bright young actual field marshal decides to liberate Putin's brains kinetically onto the wall behind where he sits, and sooner or later, it's likely that the lightbulb will switch on, and someone thereabouts may decide the lemon is worth the squeeze.

And Putin's megalomaniacal quest to re-form the Soviet Empire isn't going over well anywhere from Oslo to Ankara, and Europe is digging in, not softening its stance.

Every minute this continues, the whole world suffers for it. The minute is stops, worldwide problems and tensions ratchet down about five levels. Which has nothing whatsoever to do with how corrupt Ukrainian leadership is, nor the fecklessness and cynicism of the dog-wagging jackasses who actively pushed and pulled this conflict into happening on both sides of the Atlantic.

The minute Russia, with or without Putin at the helm, realizes it has more to gain from ending the conflict than continuing it, the faster the ten crises the war accelerated go from glowing cherry-red and about to blow, back to a nice tepid not-nearly-so-serious problem.

But if you really frothingly want WW III to kick off tomorrow, by all means keep rootin' for Putin.

I'd rather turn that burner way down, and concentrate on the epic housecleaning hereabouts that's coming like a freight train, without having to deal with it in MOPP Level IV gear, knowwhatImean? That shit is uncomfortable as f**k.


DAN III said...

Any Amerikan citizen supporting the Ukraine is a supporter of the traitor and criminal biden.

Aesop said...

You can save yourself a lot of typing if you just post this link instead, Dan:

sykes.1 said...

The smart 155 mm Excalibur round costs $100,000 each. The US Army almost never uses them, and almost every artillery shell they fire is a dumb round. In Afghanistan, the smart 500 lb bombs were preferred, because they only cost $50,000 each.

As to face to wood chipper, Russia is slowly grinding down the Ukronazis. The Ukronazis admit to losing 1,000 people per day, dead and wounded, and they are reduced to drafting middle-aged men and teenage boys, and putting them in the front lines.

Anonymous said...

I had a good chuckle earlier this week when viewing the PSA from the NYFC .gov on what to do in case of a nuclear attack.

What they failed to mention is that, after the blast, assuming you survive it without incineration from the heat wave, every building left standing will succumb to the fire that follows. Two days after the blast, no one within 50 miles of ground zero will be consuming oxygen, unless they were lucky enough to be in one of the subway tunnels. Those situated there will, of course, drown when the pumps that keep them dry quit because there's nothing left to power them.

Yet another reason not live in NYFC.


Anonymous said...

Our favorite Austrian colonel posted another update in English.

Jonathan H said...

Don't forget that if you fire (wear) a gun long enough it eventually fails. In the case of artillery, generally with a big and deadly boom. If you store it's ammo poorly, the boom quickly gets bigger...

Anonymous said...

This link is to a summary of one day of urban combat in Severodonetsk, 3rd of June 2022. The Ukrainians left the town some 3 weeks after it had been filmed. Shows quite well what modern combat does to the landscape even with fairly limited amount of shelling (as Russians did limit their shelling there due to close contact their troops had there with the Ukrainian defenders). Ukrainian sound, English subtitles.


Michael Z. Williamson said...

Okay, Dan.

Every supporter of Sputum supports the Clinton Foundation's $640 million embezzlement and selling Uranium to Russia. And supporting a former KGB thug.

See how that works?

Mike-SMO said...

Be careful. Don't discount the effect of an enemy who is fighting on your side. Don't trust them, but don't discount them.

Aesop said...


1) Those casualties are horse-and-chicken soup, at a 1:1 ratio - one horse to one chicken. It's about 100 Ukrainians dead/day, the rest of that 1000 are wounded, which is everything from career-ending blown apart, down to any scratch.
Meanwhile Russia is losing an estimated 1000 dead/week, in a mostly artillery war.
Which Russian troops don't want to be in, and ukrainian troops don't want to stop fighting.
"In war, the moral is to the physical as three is to one." - Napoleon

2) Those numbers are from 6 weeks ago, at the height of the Russian Shell and Snail "offensive." McClellan advanced farther into VA in 1862 in a whole year than Russia has advanced into Donbas. And they're slowing down, not gaining momentum. When they start sweeping everything before them like Guderian, Patton, or Genghis khan, give a holler.

3) The US Army almost never used Excalibur rounds because there wasn't anything in Iraq or A-stan worth $100K. QED. The Ukes are dropping them on Russian tanks, APCs, and SP arty. All things which Achmed and Habib didn't have in the Sandbox after the second week.

4) There are more Nazis at a New Jersey biker rally than all that you'd find in Ukraine, and most of those that are so have chosen that side for the same reason Franco's forces did in Spain: they were fighting commies. So put that trope to rest; the tires are bald, and you can't put enough sawdust in the transmission to drive it another mile before it collapses.

5) Russia is also conscripting old men and boys, and some of their military recruiting offices seem to be going all explodey back in Mother Russia. Sounds like no one wants to be drafted for Uncle Putin's War, any more than young Americans wanted to kill VC for LBJ and Goodyear.

I don't mind the pony for only knowing one trick, but put him back in the barn for a while, and give him a rest. He's earned it.

Russia could wipe out all organized and uniformed resistance and conquer Ukraine all the way to Poland and Slovakia tomorrow, and shoot Zelenskyy by lunchtime, and still spend the next decade losing this like they lost in Afghanistan, except ten times bloodier for both sides.

That's before we talk about how they've utterly destroyed every square meter of the territory they've conquered, in the so-called "Russia-friendly" parts. This only gets harder from here.

That makes everything they're doing, and how they're doing at it, ultimately futile and pointless.

Anonymous said...

Logistics are key.

A lot of the Ukrainian Logistical tail is outside Ukraine in Europe and America. What happens if those support functions stop?

Look at the Netherlands. The farmers are in open, but still peaceful revolt. Their own government is saying 30% or more of the farms are going to be destroyed. Lots of farmland will be made into towns for all those wonderful third world refugees. German and Belgian farmers are realizing they are likely next to be decimated by the same Nitrogen/ Fertilizer/ Greenhouse Gas Rules that will eliminate over 30% of the centuries old Dutch farms.

The Italian Government Fell again this week. (For about the 369th time since WW2, but the first time in how many modern years?)

Green and Environmentally Aware German Electric Utility Uniper may declare bankruptcy because they cannot produce enough electricity at anything close to affordable prices, even with all their "FREE" Wind and Solar Power. They are pulling natural gas OUT of Storage in July, and will not have anywhere near enough NatGas come January, February and March.

What happens if Western Europe betrays Ukraine to Russia? Europe stops its support of UKR just to keep their own people from freezing in the dark this Winter?


Alternative 2: What if one of the Armies breaks or mutinies? France came damned close to military mutinies in 1917 before the US Army showed up in numbers. Could Ukraine's Army Break? Russia's Army? I don't know, and those that could know are definitely not saying, as it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.


Rollory said...

>A lot of the Ukrainian Logistical tail is outside Ukraine in Europe and America. What happens if those support functions stop?

Yes, that is Ukraine's weakness, and I expect they know it. Which is why I expect them to apply increasing pressure culminating in a serious offensive by the end of summer. The political leadership in the West is increasingly supporting Ukraine; the public is generally supportive with reservations, and it's a fringe element of screamers insisting that Putin must be permitted to do what he wants. That dynamic can change if we reach winter with no meaningful return on the military investment and European industry gets starved of energy and heating bills become crippling. I think Europe can and will endure such situations if they see a prospect of serious return on their investment and something approaching victory without having to put their own militaries on the line.

The thing to remember here - that Americans, and especially pro-Russian Americans, really don't get - is that Russia has been looming over every single major European country from France eastward and from the Arctic Circle to the Aegean for the past four centuries as an omnipresent colossus that repeatedly sends devastating military invasions. It's psychically oppressive. The opportunity to break them or seriously weaken them is something the Europeans really don't want to pass up - the trouble is believing the opportunity is actually there.

The consistent trend in Ukrainian vs Russian battlefield performances since Feb 24 is demonstrating that the opportunity is, in fact, there, and becoming more doable by the day.

>What if one of the Armies breaks or mutinies?

This is what I expect. Specifically, I expect the Russian guys to break first. Based on the translated intercepts and social media conversations I've seen, the closer any given Russian is to the front line, the more respect they have for the enemy and the less for their own political leadership. It's the blowhards back home who are ranting about corrupt ukronazis and inevitable success. (Oddly familiar, no?)

The Ukrainians might be pissed off at their leadership at various levels and depressed and frustrated at being in artillery bombardment hell, but they're always more pissed at the Russians. The Russians might be annoyed at the Ukrainians and against splitting up the great Russophone family, but they're furious with how their lives are being wasted. Those two dynamics only add up in one direction.

We might see a "Only Strelkov could go to Kiev" type moment.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like Putin needs more Cannon Fodder?

30-Day Wonders. No Experience Necessary. Senior Citizens Welcome.

The Russian Federation has launched a large-scale drive to form volunteer battalions in the 85 “federal subjects” (or regions) that comprise the federation. Recruiting for some volunteer battalions began in June but has intensified in July, with new volunteer units being reported daily. The battalions apparently will consist of roughly 400 men each aged between 18 and 60. They will belong to various branches of service including motorized rifle, tank, and naval infantry, but also signals and logistics. Recruits are not required to have prior military service and will undergo only 30 days of training before deployment to Ukraine.


John Wilder said...

Heard the HiMARS are taking a toll on the Russian ammo dumps, too.