Boar Down!

Herschel Smith · 30 Oct 2022 · 9 Comments

Readers may have noticed I was absent the last several days.  It was a good time away.  A very good buddy and neighbor of mine, Robert, and I went hunting courtesy of the fine folks with Williams Hunting in South Carolina. I was shooting a 6mm ARC rifle with a Grendel Hunter upper, Aero Precision lower, Amend2 magazines, Brownells scope mount, Radian Raptor charging handle, Nikon Black scope, and a Viking Tactics sling.  I have no complaints about the gun.  It's at least a 1 MOA gun…… [read more]

AR-15s In Ukraine

BY Herschel Smith
8 months, 2 weeks ago

I’ve followed the infantry weapons in use, from the bullpup IPI Malyk to AR-15s and AKs.  Of course, some idiot always drops by to respond that it’s all propaganda rather than really add to the conversation about weaponry.

This article outlines some really nice rifles recently given to their fighters.

Ukrainian National Guard special forces have started to receive their first 5.56x45mm AR-15-patterned rifles. This comes as some Ukrainian National Guard units have begun to rearm in line with NATO standards as part of closer alignment with the western alliance.

The official press announcement of the Ukrainian National Guard does not name the unit, only saying that a separate special unit of the Eastern Territorial Administration has received new UAR-15 assault rifles. The Firearm Blog website mentions that in recent months Ukraine also received a shipment of US military aid worth $60 million. Since the outbreak of the conflict in Donbass and the annexation of Crimea, Ukraine has undergone a massive rearmament program and kick-started its defense industry with a number of attempts at developing a small arms manufacturing capability which has seen the development of the FORT-250 rifle and the M4-WAC-47.

The rifles in the photos released by the National Guard are clearly marked “UKROP”, a branch of Ukraine’s state-run “Ukroboronprom” concern. The UKROP UAR-15 has been exhibited at a number of defense trade shows since 2018, and it seems that production of the rifle is now underway. The rifle appears to be patterned after the AR-15/M4, with a KeyMod forend, an enlarged T-charging handle, an adjustable stock and a full-length top rail. The rifles also appear to be select fire. They are also shown with Lancer translucent polymer magazines and a suppressor with flash hider, which is reportedly rated for up to 10,000 rounds.

I see the flash hider, I don’t see the suppressor.  Maybe the author is wrong about that.  But they are using translucent mags, a light KeyMod forend, a nice charging handle, and MLOK attachment rails along with a full 1913 rail on top.  The rifles appear to be Cerakoted charcoal gray.

Logistical, Strategic And Tactical Analysis Of The Russian War Against Ukraine

BY Herschel Smith
9 months, 1 week ago

The intention is for this to be oriented towards a logistical, strategic and tactical analysis of the current war in Ukraine.  I would like to approach it from the perspective of a more clinical analysis rather than a personal commitment to winners and losers.  However, it’s worth pointing out a few of the main points of contention in the geopolitical scene and briefly weighing in on the morality of the conflict.

Then I’ll provide an extended summary of the strategy Putin’s generals have pursued thus far, followed by a number of observations on tactics, techniques and procedures we’ve seen in use.  I’ve tried to use confirmed sources (usually redundant reports, or reports that intersect with the main points I want to make).  Finally, I’ll close with a number of videos I’ve culled from the news reports available at the time of posting.

It is noteworthy that I’ve tried to ensure the correctness and accuracy of the sources, but I can’t make assurances in every case.  The reader is appropriately warned.  With that said, a number of the sources are obviously correct (e.g., you can be fairly certain that when you hear a British voice and an American voice in a video during fighting, and they refer to a Russian helicopter overhead, the likelihood is that it has nothing to do with fighting in Afghanistan, although I can think of operations in Northern Africa where this might have occurred even though it doesn’t purport to be anything other than Ukraine).  The major things (e.g., strategy) are obvious from looking at the blunders to date.  Some of the videos simply cannot be completely verified without financial resources and backing.  Trust at your own risk.  That’s the best I can do.

It should also be stipulated that Elon Musk has virtually assured Ukraine of connectivity (Starlink service is now active in Ukraine.  More terminals en route), while Anonymous has declared war on Russia, causing all sorts of hacking, connectivity and banking problems (video embedded below).

At the moment, Ukraine probably controls the information war.  That’s the way of things, and you may want to take that into consideration in your own assessments.  Glenn Greenwald makes some interesting observations concerning the moral certitude some people feel in their position and how it leads to the propaganda campaign.  He mentions such examples as the following.

It may be that the lazier among us see these things through the lens of confirmation bias, but I never saw the first example as anything but a Ukrainian vehicle that had a track seize up (I’m part of a discussion thread where someone pointed out the signs of that).  As for the second example, I couldn’t care less.  I didn’t even read the whole thing.  It sounded like trash to me.  As for the third example, this is the most interesting.  I confess that I fail to see his point.  “Possible.”  Virtually anything is possible.  Moreover, it seems to me that if it’s true that it was a Ukrainian missile that caused the damage to the apartment, it doesn’t change the conclusions one iota.  Ukraine could have very well pointed out that machinery malfunctions and parts fail.  This sort of thing happens in warfare.  In order to have prevented this, Russia could have chosen not to invade, giving Ukraine the opportunity to choose not to launch the missile.

Most of Glenn’s examples invoke the intellects of people who wish to see an outcome and grab for evidence for the chattering class or the ten-second snippet crowd.  In other words, the Twitter crowd with the short attention span.  I mostly loath Twitter except for informative videos, and sometimes I’ll even accept unconfirmed videos if I can learn and hone TTPs (Tactics, Techniques and Procedures) from them.

Geopolitical Considerations

Copious Soros cash likely caused the upheaval that led to the election of Zelenskyy.  He has been referred to as a comic, but he is much more than that.  He earned a law degree.  If the data is to be believed, and assuming that there was no corruption in the election, he won his election with 73% of the vote.

For whatever reason his proclivities turn him towards the West for economic cooperation rather than towards Russia.  Whether this is a wise move on his part with the feckless and highly corrupt Western leaders is anyone’s guess at the moment.  But this is Russia’s “near abroad,” and allowing such close cooperation with the West might be compared to the U.S. allowing China to buy up massive amounts of land in the U.S. and Mexico (which is happening as we speak) or ensconce weapons on the Southern border.  Putin has a legitimate concern for the safety of Russia when it comes to an ever-expanding NATO and living with military infrastructure on his border.

That’s not the reason for the current war.  Putin’s real concern is replacing the petro-dollar with the petro-Ruble.  This all has to do with energy – its production, transmission and usage, and the wealth this creates.  NATO is a pretext for the current war.  Putin is certainly corrupt, Zelenskyy may or may not be (time will tell), and the Western leaders are most assuredly massively corrupt.  Most world leaders are corrupt.  Picking one corrupt leader over another corrupt leader from a moral perspective is rather like bathing and smooching with swine.

The most important consideration is the fact that Ukrainians don’t want the Russians there (as I will demonstrate in the data below).  They are uninvited, hated, and considered enemy invaders.  I have always believed in the moral right of secession (including here in the U.S.).  Covenants may be dissolved when the terms and conditions of those contracts have been violated.  In this case, Ukrainians don’t even consider themselves to be Russians or even Russian in origin, much less was there ever a covenant or contract that had to be dissolved.  The fact that the Soviet Union once controlled Ukraine is more evidence for tyranny, not justification for a future contract.  Control of others by force of arms is not a covenant or contract.  The main reason for opposition to secession is the desire to control others, and that doesn’t weigh in the positive for moral considerations.

As for my personal views, I’ll observe that Putin is a gun controller, and I consider gun controllers to be my enemy, whether in the U.S. or abroad (as for that matter, Ukraine has been fairly strict concerning carrying weapons in public until this war, although not as strict concerning ownership as in Russia).  As far as the desire to control others and the willingness to use force and cause pain and suffering to achieve wealth, I don’t see a dime’s worth of difference between Putin and “the controllers” in American politics.  The controllers only favor gun control because they fear their own people.  They fear their own people because they know they’re doing some illegitimate or immoral.

Logistics, Strategy and Tactics

As best as can be determined, Putin’s original goal was to drive in heavy armor, rush to Kiev, surround the capital city, and then drop paratroopers in to kill or arrest Zelenskyy and his government.  Then install a puppet regime, and leave (or leave some contingency of troops behind for stability operations).  This seems to comport with the actions we’ve witnessed thus far.  But Kiev wasn’t really surrounded and incapable of self-defense, and Russia didn’t control the battle space.

The most amazing thing about this plan is the ability of the generals to sell Putin on the idea.  It’s bad logistically, it’s bad tactically, and therefore it could never work properly from a strategic standpoint.  Meeting resistance, the convoys had to splinter to effect rear guard protection and answer defilade fires.  Eventually, the units splintered to the point that they were no longer a cohesive drive.

Logistically, trains had to move heavy equipment to the front, along with fuel.  Fuel was the limiting factor in much of the main drive through France and into Germany during WWII.  Under such heavy loads, armored vehicles are gas hogs.  They apparently didn’t believe they would encounter much resistance, and that they would either make it to Kiev before their tanks were empty, or refuel along the way, being met with Russian flag-wavers cheering them on as freedom fighters and liberators.

A stationary armored vehicle is a massive risk, and unless it’s a large scale tank battle (such as seen during WWII).  But the column typically goes much slower than a mad dash to an endpoint, with infantry in tow to provide protection for the vehicle.  At least, this is classic armored vehicle TTPs.  It’s what my son learned at 29 Palms.  The Russian army tried to use battle tanks as race cars.  More than that, when they figured out (late to the game) that there was no possibility of refueling because of the impossibility of providing security for refueling trucks, they began carrying additional fuel on the outside of the tanks.  This practice makes for quite the bomb for users of Molotov Cocktails.

Now Putin is having to turn more violent and send in his remaining forces currently deployed on the border (or near it).  He is meeting resistance he didn’t anticipate, but should have if he had listened to anyone outside his echo chamber of yes-men.  Yes-men are dangerous to leaders, but it seems that those are the sort of people who always get promoted.

Years ago at the height of the campaign in Iraq, an anthropologist deployed to Iraq to observe and assist and analyze (for example, they can understand things about tribal loyalties and cultural issues that the military leaders can’t or don’t have time for).  He and I exchanged copious email, and he remarked to me one day that while the military had discussed and even planned for massive hunger during the campaign, it suddenly occurred to him why that could never happen.  In addition to the largest population centers being near the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, he could go outside along the rivers and find ripe Pomegranates freshly dropped from the trees in any quantity he wanted.  It was literally impossible, he told me, for anyone to starve in Iraq.

Similarly, a good psychologist could have explained to Putin why the initial plan would never work.  Ukrainians don’t consider themselves Russians.  Ukrainians want the Russians to leave.  Thus, an elderly lady has the courage to call out a Russian soldier and tell him to put sunflower seeds in his pockets so that they would grow there when he died on their soil.  “You’re occupants!  You’re fascists!”  I have other videos of this same sort of thing occurring.

The tactics are also peaceful, and probably won’t be so peaceful in the future depending upon the tentative outcome of this war.  There is a lot of homemade weaponry being constructed as a result of events.  In spite of UAVs, modern warfare looks a lot like ancient warfare.

Folks trying to leave are living in a line of cars at the Polish border that is 20 miles long and takes three days to finish.  This sort of thing doesn’t happen when people trust the incoming government.  It’s fairly simple, really.  In America we teach our children to hate our elders.  Education at Marxist universities is the capstone of that treachery.  In this part of the world, this isn’t at all true.  We know folks who hail from this part of the world.  They virtually worship their elders.

The little old lady who busted the Russian soldier feels that way because she remembers life under the Soviet empire.  She doesn’t want to repeat that.  She wants to be left alone.  She has taught the younger kids around her, and they listened.  The vast majority of the Ukrainians see the Russian troops as invaders, occupiers and terrorists.  This is especially true when they target power plants, gas pipelines, oil depots and apartment buildings.

So the Russian generals misunderstood the culture, allowed their columns to splinter, overestimated their own resolve and underestimated the resolve of the Ukrainians, didn’t allow for protection of lines of logistics, and didn’t communicate very well with their own troops concerning TTPs or overall goals.  When my son deployed to Iraq, the Lt. Col. for his Battalion trained them using PP overheads on ROE (as a reminder for the training they had received), goals, comms, and general standing orders (among many other things).  He issued a ‘no surrender’ ‘die in place’ order, and explained why he did it.  He shared the full presentation with me.  So not only did my own son understand all of this, the Lt. Col. made sure that I did too.  The Russian troops seem confused as to why they are there.  In fact, one has to wonder if they are considered fully deployable units who have been trained, range certified and fully briefed.  Did they undergo the full workups required for deployment?

Here I wanted to embed a picture of what I believe to be Russian troops (and I believe to be accurate and timely), but I could not assure it so I didn’t do so.  Anyway, it shows virtually an entire platoon of Russian soldiers (along with multiple armored vehicles) securing a bridge.  My son remarked to me that it shouldn’t have taken any more than a fire team to do that, and that you would never park armored vehicles that close together ifs you follow proper protocol.

Concluding Thoughts

I think this has been a fair assessment.  Naive belief in the capability of long term victory against Russia is probably a pipe dream without more weaponry and more well-trained men.  It can be done without air assets (witness what goat herders did to the U.S. in Afghanistan), but it will require much more anti-tank weaponry.  Russia planned poorly.  Ukraine was late to prepare.  Putin is basically a thug who wants control of oil and energy.  Putin believes in gun control.  The Ukraine isn’t far behind in its limitation on the right of self defense.  I do not advocate U.S. involvement in the conflict.  I have never advocated for foreign misadventures.  I will not change my views on that.  In fact, I do not even advocate that the U.S. send weapons to foreign buyers without first rescinding the NFA, GCA and Hughes Amendment and legalizing ownership and manufacture of machine guns for the general population in the U.S..  We have human rights problems at home before we tackle problems abroad.  Before we send machine guns to foreigners, we need to send them to Americans.

Russia clearly hasn’t engaged all of its armor and troops, nor even its air assets.  There is more to come, proven by the fact that more is on the way as I write.  It would be wildly inaccurate (or at least without basis) to assert that Ukraine can hold out against all of Putin’s assets for any protracted length of time without more hardware.

But his strategy at the beginning of the war was retarded.  Ukraine was unprepared for the conflict, apparently believing that Putin was bluffing.  I never for a second believed that Putin was bluffing.  Putin has always wanted control over Ukraine.  Despite Ukraine’s laziness to become involved in preparations and in engagement of a civil defense force (acquiring weapons and training the fighters), they are more prepared now than they would have been a few days ago.  Putin’s retarded plan now ensures a much more violent campaign and many more lives lost, both Russian and Ukrainian.  His generals should be hung from the nearest lamppost, along with most U.S, generals.  Putin will not give up – and neither will Ukraine.

As for the armored column approaching Kiev, this is what it looks like.

For a quick analysis, in order to defeat this column, weaponry is needed, a lot of it, and immediately.  On the other hand, my son says, “Give me just one good IED to stop the lead tank and force the others to come to a stop or splinter off from the column.”  You can ask him how he knows what happens when an IED destroys the lead tank in a column.  There is an “oh f***” moment after recovery of your senses if you’re still alive when SAW gunners are expected to lay down massive suppressive fires while others seek cover and concealment.  No other vehicle moves, and the entire operation is at risk.  Everyone is a sitting duck until they can muster a squad rush or something else.

Video & Continuation of TTPs

This will be a stream of consciousness regurgitation of things with running (and brief) commentary.

This Ukrainian soldier is self-confident.  Perhaps too much so.  He has a false sense of security.  But it shows that morale is high among the troops.

Ukrainian soldiers engaging Russian troops after abandoning damaged armored vehicles.  This is an example of why infantry is usually in tow with armor.  We discussed that.  These aren’t conventional tactics.  At least at the moment, the Russians are trying to engage in conventional warfare.

This video shows Ukrainians making homemade weaponry.  These are civilians, not army.

This video shows what appears to be a dead Russian soldier, or what’s left of him.  When bodies can’t even come home in body bags and there is nothing left to bury except a rib cage, it’s easy to lose support of the people.  The value of including graphic images such as this is that it shows the horror of war.  It’s not a pretty or clinical thing.  Warning: graphic images.

This is what appears to be a saboteur caught in a non-military vehicle.  From the pictures it’s hard to see if he has insignia, but if not, he won’t even be treated as a POW.

This is the video posted by Anonymous.  Thus far it’s causing massive problems for Russian TV and banking.

This is a discussion where retired Major John Spencer, chair of Urban Warfare Studies at West Point’s Modern War Institute gives practical advice to the Ukrainians.

In this video, you hear the voices of both British and American fighters (this is certain from the accents), presumably volunteers.  They discuss a Russian helicopter, so it seemingly cannot be of different origin than the front in Ukraine.

Reddit Thread

In these two videos, what appears to be Russian soldiers stole a money vault or safe from a Ukrainian bank and looted a grocery store.  This is exactly the sort of thing you do when you want to “win hearts and minds.”  Steal wealth and food from the population in a time of shortage.

My assessment at the moment is that Russia failed with their initial strategy.  They are calling up more armor and troops, and this is a perilous time for Ukraine.  It’s equally perilous for Russia.  They haven’t won hearts and minds.  Ukraine doesn’t want them there.  Their campaign is going to have to become much more brutal and full scale if they are to win.  If reports are to be believed, they have thus far lost 3500 troops.  That’s 70% of the deaths the U.S. lost in the entire campaign in Iraq during a ten year occupation.

Continued losses with boys coming home in body bags risks loss of the Russian public and continued cyber attacks risks loss of the Oligarchs and their business.  It will also cause a run on the banks, and could quickly tank the financial system.  Here consider what Trudeau did in Canada and how the banks and people responded.

When the dust settles, Putin cannot leave his troops in Ukraine.  They simply cannot stay there on a permanent basis, any more than the U.S. could remain in Iraq or Afghanistan on a permanent basis.  They will be hated, they will sustain a tremendous rebuilding burden, they will drive the psychology even more sour than it already is, and eventually they will be burned with gasoline or shot.

The financial burden will become too great (similar burden bankrupted the Soviet Union), and Russia should consider the experience of the U.S. in our foreign misadventures (where it cost the taxpayer multiple trillions of dollars to sustain the occupation).

War is expensive.  So is occupation.

Who Are These Troops?

BY Herschel Smith
9 months, 2 weeks ago

News from across the world.

No insignia were visible and Ukrainian officials said it was not possible to tell if the troops belonged to the regular Russian army or were from Russian-controlled separatist units, The Guardian reported.

Hmm … high speed gear, cutout helmets, comms, every one of them with pistols and carbines, matching cammy pattern, self-confident, good trigger discipline, hip holsters (not the stupid drop holsters).

My best guess?  Spetsnaz.  They would eat the girls in the 82nd Airborne alive.

I continue my call for full scale war.

On the Southern border of the U.S.  Shoot them when you see them.

We have absolutely no business in Ukraine doing anything at all.  It isn’t our business.  It isn’t our “near abroad.”

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