Also clearly understanding the warning issued by President Putin once the socialist Western colonial powers decided to wage war against Russia, this report concludes, is the most influential American military blogger Big Serge read by top commanders the world over, and in whose just released exhaustive analytical tactical document “Russo-Ukrainian War: Schrodinger’s Offensive” observed:
For young men, fascination with war goes through distinct phases.Most of the time it begins with equipment and broad, big arrow views of battles.The sizes of the cannons on the main battle tanks of World War Two, for example, is probably a disproportionately well known fact among 8-16 year old boys.They mostly want to know about the big battles, the big movement patterns, and big guns.
Over time, however, the inescapable conclusion sets in that armies have an intensely bureaucratic backbone, and that seemingly mundane factors like unit composition, rear area logistics, and organizational charts have tremendous implications on the battlefield.This is where those dreaded order of battle charts and unit diagrams come into play, and you inevitably have to start memorizing what the myriad little symbols mean.Eventually, you realize that the construction of units and other organizational factors are, within reason, far more important than the minutia of the equipment and armaments, and you should have been contemplating the bureaucratic aspects the whole time, and that (tragically) the size of the cannon on the Sherman Firefly tank was not actually a particularly decisive factor in world history.
It still looks cool, for the record.
Russia is currently sorting through organizational issues which were created through the country’s unique mixed service model (which mixes contract soldiers and conscripts), and in particular the wearisome Battalion Tactical Group (BTG).
The Russian army utilizes a mixed model of professional contract soldiers and conscripts, and these two types of personnel have an important legal differentiation.Conscripts cannot be deployed in combat outside of Russia without a declaration of war.This means that a given Russian unit (let’s just use a brigade as the standard example) has a full (“paper”) strength comprised of mixed personnel, and a rump core of contract soldiers that can be deployed abroad.
The question for Russian leadership therefore becomes how to design these units to fight without their conscripts.The answer to this problem was the Battalion Tactical Group, which is a derivative formation that spins off (if you will) from the brigade.The design of these units has other considerations of course, but the basic concern driving the creation of the BTG was the need to craft a force that could fight without its conscripts.
The BTG is heavy on firepower, with a strong organic complement of artillery tubes and armored vehicles, but exceptionally light on infantry.This has implications for both offensive and defensive operations, which we saw very clearly in the first nine months of the war in Ukraine.
On the defense, the BTG (being infantry poor) has to fight from behind a thin screen, and inflict defeats on the enemy with its ranged fires.This isn’t a unit that can fight doggedly to hold forward positions; it’s built to maul the attacker.
More generally, however, BTGs are fragile units, by which we mean relatively low losses in infantry or tanks make them unsuitable for further combat tasks.This makes the unit something of a glass cannon - capable of dealing out tremendous firepower but not built to sustain operations after moderate losses.Being a fundamentally “slimmed down” unit, it struggles to sustain and recover combat capability without rotating to the rear to receive replacements or cannibalizing other units.
In a sense, this is what you’d expect given the constraints of the contract-conscript model, which by its very nature forced the Russians to design a stripped-down, manpower light subsidiary to their full strength brigades.This is why Russia had a general scarcity of manpower that began to compromise its overall operational effectiveness over the summer of 2022 as Ukrainian mobilization and western aid resulted in an enormous UA numerical advantage.
At the peak, the first phase of the war probably saw no more than 80,000 regular Russian combat personnel in Ukraine, and even with the DNR, LNR, and Wagner providing an infantry buffer, the total Russian force was outnumbered at least 3-1.The BTG could still inflict huge damage, but the construction of the force in Ukraine was simply not sufficient for the scope of the theater, leading to a huge section of front in Kharkov being hollowed out.Hence, mobilization.
Against the backdrop of this process, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu announced a new program of military reorganization.The most significant item on the list of changes is the decision to begin converting existing brigades into divisions.
At the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union wielded the largest and most powerful army in the world, capable of fielding millions of men, armed to the teeth with unparalleled inventories of all manner of heavy equipment.
The vain world that we inhabit in the West is being exposed to the realities of true power.
In the forest around the Donets, on the steppe at Ugledar, and in the burning death trap at Bakhmut, words matter little.
Indeed, the destructive power now at work is so great that even the deeds of the individual can do little to alter the course of the battle.
[Note: Some words and/or phrases appearing in quotes in this report are English language approximations of Russian words/phrases having no exact counterpart.]