Home » “Back to 100 Years Ago.” How Powerful Lines of Defense Change Tactics in War
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“Back to 100 Years Ago.” How Powerful Lines of Defense Change Tactics in War

The Ukrainian offensive, which began on June 4 on the Southern Front, has not yet succeeded in breaking through the defense lines of the Russian army.

Despite some progress and the liberation of a number of front-line villages, it is still very far from reaching the operational space.

On many axes, the fighting took on a positional character. At the same time, unofficially, the Ukrainian military admits that they are suffering heavy losses. Both in people and technology.

Especially in the first days of the offensive, when the Armed Forces of Ukraine attacked with large forces with the participation of Western tanks and armored personnel carriers. For the most part, the result was not achieved, and a significant part of the equipment was hit.

The reasons for this have already been repeatedly named by experts – the Russians have long been preparing for an offensive precisely in the southern direction and have well strengthened their positions. Including huge minefields through which Ukrainian equipment is moving with difficulty. In addition, the Russians have saturated positions with artillery and ATGMs, have dramatically increased the use of drones (both for adjusting fire and for delivering strikes), and Russian aviation dominates the air.

All this allows the Russian army in many cases to detect and destroy the equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine even before it approaches the Russian positions.

Under such conditions, the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, judging by what the Ukrainian military reports (and this is confirmed by both Russian public and Western media), decided to change tactics.

The emphasis is now on attacking groups of infantry with a small number of armored vehicles, which can more easily get close to Russian positions unnoticed.

In some sectors of the front, this tactic is successful – there is progress, albeit slow, but there is. However, its reverse side is the large losses of the attackers. And the question rests on how much reserves both sides have. Will the reserves of the Armed Forces of Ukraine be enough to continue such assaults in order to penetrate deep enough into the defense of the Russian Federation. And will the Russians have enough reserves to stop this advance.

Read more about how the battle tactics are changing in the current war in the “Countries” article.

Big losses

Already in the first days of the offensive in the Zaporizhzhia direction, the media filled the footage of the damaged Ukrainian equipment belonging to the main strike force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in this sector of the front – the 47th brigade “Magura”. There were Leopards and Bradley infantry fighting vehicles.

Later, such videos appeared regularly.

The exact number of losses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine since the beginning of the offensive is unknown, the Russians call huge numbers of hundreds of knocked out armored vehicles. Western media write about dozens.

Ukraine does not officially comment on the losses, but in private conversations, the Ukrainian military acknowledges that the losses (both people and equipment) are large.

Indirect evidence of the dire situation was the scandal with one of the main media faces of the 47th brigade – chief sergeant Markus, who made loud accusations against the brigade command and wrote a report for demotion.

Commenting on this scandal, the editor-in-chief of the website “Censor” Yuri Butusov named the heavy losses suffered by the unit as one of its reasons.

“The common reason: significant losses in a short time, difficult conditions for breaking through the enemy’s echeloned defense, the lack of coherence of the brigade in a combat situation and the lack of combat experience of most military personnel,” Butusov comments.

At the same time, even such large losses did not provide significant progress. If we take the Zaporozhye region, then the Armed Forces of Ukraine were only able to liberate the villages of Lobkove and Pyatikhatki (although the Russians refer to the latter as a “gray zone”) and move somewhat towards Rabotino. There is more progress in the Donetsk region on the Vremievsky ledge. But even there it is still far from breaking through the defense.

Therefore, Western analysts and experts started talking about the fact that the Ukrainian direction in the south is clearly stalled.

Mosquito attacks

The command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine responded to the problems with a change of tactics.

Judging by information from the Western media, which is confirmed by Strana’s sources in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in recent weeks the Ukrainian military has switched to attacks by small groups of infantry, supported by a small number of vehicles and armored vehicles.

At the same time, the equipment is used as a taxi – it brings infantry closer to enemy positions and moves back. From the rear, there is also fire support for the advancing from tanks, mortars and artillery.

But the main role in the attacks is given to small groups of infantry, which are more difficult for the enemy to detect in advance than columns of armored vehicles.

“At the first stage, we make gaps, passages in minefields with trawls with the support of tanks. The crews of minesweepers are called “kamikaze”, as soon as they leave, they are immediately covered with Russian artillery. The main task of the trawls is to clear at least a narrow passage for our infantry fighting vehicles. But minesweeping is slow, and minesweeping is a convenient target.

Then, at speed, we advance on an infantry fighting vehicle with a group of fighters to the enemy’s trenches. The task of the assault group is to break into the Russian positions. When we break into the trenches, the main task is to clean them up and hold them until the Russian artillery starts working on them. We immediately retreat and watch how the Russians break their own positions, after which we return there. Without using infantry fighting vehicles – on ordinary vehicles, along cleared passages, and even more often – just on foot. Heavy equipment is pulled into position if they try to knock us out with a counterattack. In this way, we gain a foothold in the enemy position, and then move on to assaults along a similar scheme for the next line of defense,” said an officer of the Armed Forces of Ukraine who is now fighting on the Southern Front.

Such tactics in a number of areas, according to the Ukrainian military, have ensured in the last couple of weeks, albeit a slow, but advance of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Although it does not bring success in a number of sectors of the front, since infantry groups are detected and destroyed on the way, are captured during assaults, or cannot hold positions due to enemy counterattacks.

Russian publics note that this tactic (which they call “mosquito”) is in many ways similar to the one used by the “Wagnerites” during the assault on Soledar and Bakhmut.

They also attacked the positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with small infantry groups with fire support from the rear.

Such tactics made it possible to capture Soledar and almost all of Bakhmut during months of fighting. However, at the cost of catastrophic losses. According to Prigozhin, the PMC lost more than 20,000 people killed alone (Western and Ukrainian sources cite even higher numbers). At the same time, the “Wagnerites” let recruited prisoners into assault attacks, the losses of which were of little concern to anyone.

From the Ukrainian side, the regular army is going into battle. Which also suffers significant losses. At the same time, it should be taken into account that, unlike Bakhmut, the roads to which were shot through by the Russians in the spring and the logistics along them were extremely difficult, on the Southern Front the defending army of the Russian Federation has no problems with communications of this scale (despite the periodic attacks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the rear). That is, the task for the advancing Ukrainian army is now more difficult than for the “Wagnerites” near Bakhmut.

And the key question is whether the Armed Forces of Ukraine have enough forces and reserves to break through the enemy’s echeloned defenses at the cost of such losses.

And how many reserves does the Russian Federation have to constantly repulse such attacks. By the way, conflicting signals come from there – according to one source, much more than the officially declared 300 thousand people were called up during the mobilization, and therefore there are more than enough reserves. According to other sources, the reserves are not so significant, many units have not been rotated for a long time, and therefore, without a new wave of mobilization, the situation for the Russian army may become problematic.

In general, everything depends on the question of the number of people, equipment and ammunition that both sides can and are ready to bring into this bloody battle.

If there is parity in this regard (plus or minus), and if large losses or possible internal political upheavals do not lead to the demoralization of one of the armies opposing each other (that is, if no one runs from the front), then in the next month or two the battles will finally turn into a positional confrontation.

“Back to the First World War”

An officer of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who has been fighting on the southern front for the last month, notes that military tactics and strategy over the past 100 years have actually closed the circle.

“In World War I, powerful means of defense already appeared, but there were no strong means of attack to break through this defense. Tanks and aircraft were still very imperfect. Therefore, the war was predominantly positional, and infantry was the main attacking force. In World War II, tanks and aircraft became already a formidable weapon, which made it possible to return to maneuver warfare, breaking through the enemy’s front with tank armies with the support of aviation. And now the means of defense have again become stronger than the means of attack. A huge number of high-precision weapons, ATGMs, drones have actually turned armored vehicles into mobile coffins. It is being detected and destroyed more on distant approaches. Therefore, it is necessary, as in the First World War, to attack with infantry with heavy losses in the hope that the enemy will run out of people, shells or morale before ours, “- says the officer.

Can new arms deliveries turn the tide at the front? For example, Western aircraft or cluster munitions?

Cluster munitions are certainly powerful weapons. According to the British analytical institute RUSI, during the Vietnam War, according to Pentagon estimates, 1.7 cluster shells and as many as 13.6 conventional ones were spent per enemy soldier killed.

However, the Russians also have a large number of cluster munitions.

At the same time, cluster munitions are more dangerous for the attacking side than for the defenders.

As for the F-16 aircraft, there are different opinions regarding the effect of their appearance among the Ukrainian military. They, of course, can support the offensive actions of the Ukrainian army, and also help to fight against the Russian aviation, which is now completely dominant in the air, the strikes of which are one of the main problems for the offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. However, the question rests on the number of such aircraft. And also in the presence of front-line air defense, which would cover the actions of aviation. Front-line air defense is now extremely insufficient for the Ukrainian army.

And in any case, judging by the announced deadlines, even if the decision to transfer the F-16 is made, they will not arrive before the end of the year. And they will definitely not take part in the current counteroffensive. Yes, and the Russians will have time to prepare and strengthen their front-line air defense.

“I think that a turning point can only be ensured by the massive use of unmanned combat units. Not only drones, but also ground-based unmanned vehicles. When tens or hundreds of thousands of UAVs go on the attack, destroying all life tens of kilometers deep, and thousands of unmanned vehicles will drive across the field Armada and armored personnel carriers, then it will be impossible to stop such an armada. Only if on the other side there are the same tens and hundreds of thousands of drones, as well as remotely controlled firing points. But, I think, if we see this, it will not be in the current war, ” – says the officer of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Source : CTPAHA