More to ignore, Book 53.........

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: What are combined arms, and why are they so hard?
kos

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Defending trenches is relatively simple. Ukraine's abilities to engage in offensive combined arms operations will determine, in large part, how long this war lasts.

You’ll hear “combined arms” thrown around a lot by war analysts. It’s the ability to combine infantry, armor, artillery, aviation, engineering, and support units to successfully prosecute a war. You’ll see people like me laugh at Russians for throwing unsupported infantry in this attack, then unsupported armor in that other attack. So in a way, this is easy to explain. But really, no one has done a better job of
really driving home the explanation than this guy, a British paratrooper, in this thread.






The thread continues, because we still have air defense, transport aircraft, combat engineers, medical, logistics, mechanics, and so on. Running an army is insanely complex, which is why we’ve long talked about my 15% rule: When looking at the size of the army, only 15% shoot stuff. The other 85% support the people who shoot stuff. This is what the officers’ tent looks like, as the commanders of all these components work together to devise their battle plans:




These disparate components are deadly on their own, but vulnerable. Get them to work together, and you have an effective fighting force. Russia can’t pull it off. Who the hell knows what their officers discuss in meetings like the one above. Ukraine really hasn’t needed combined arms thus far—playing defense is much easier than going on the offensive. Hopefully all that NATO training the last eight years has gotten them ready for the inevitable future counterattacks.

Let’s revisit this story, when 40 American special forces and Marines held off 500 mostly Russian and Syrian Wagner mercenaries somewhere in the Syrian desert. The Russian forces, including 27 armored vehicles and artillery, hit the American outpost at 10 PM with everything in one apparent frontal assault. After 15 minutes of trying to talk the assailants into retreating, the Americans unleashed.

First came waves of Reaper drones, F-22 stealth fighter jets, F-15E Strike Fighters, B-52 bombers, AC-130 gunships, and AH-64 Apache helicopters. The air component. Meanwhile, a 16-person reaction force in armored personnel carriers sped toward the outpost to reinforce the 24 Americans under assault. So 40, facing an enemy 500 strong.


A handful of Marines ran ammunition to machine guns and Javelin missile launchers scattered along the berms and wedged among the trucks. Some of the Green Berets and Marines took aim from exposed hatches. Others remained in their trucks, using a combination of thermal screens and joysticks to control and fire the heavy machine guns affixed on their roofs.
A few of the commandos, including Air Force combat controllers, worked the radios to direct the next fleet of bombers flying toward the battlefield. At least one Marine exposed himself to incoming fire as he used a missile guidance computer to find targets’ locations and pass them on to the commandos calling in the airstrikes.

When the dust settled, 200 to 300 Russians and Syrians lay dead. Not a single American was hurt. Not even one boo-boo! That’s what combined arms is. In this case, light armor, infantry, and air took care of the situation. Had artillery been nearby, they would’ve joined the action, likely shortening the battle significantly.

That’s what wins battles and wars, and Russia simply can’t pull it off. It’s hard, it’s complicated, it requires quality leadership and the resources to practice, evaluate, and practice again, But large training exercises are expensive, no one can grift off them, and a general might look bad if something goes wrong. Meanwhile, American soldiers drill this so extensively, coordinating during the extreme stress of combat was like muscle memory.

The best Russia can do is snatch men off the streets of Donbas, up to the age of 60, and throw them at Ukrainian positions in human waves. More of that in a future update.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Wednesday, Apr 27, 2022 · 9:16:02 AM EDT · Mark Sumner
Multiple reports on Wednesday indicate that Russia appears to be serious about making a move toward Kryvyi Rih. Forces are reportedly being massed west of the Dnipro River to the north of Kherson, and villages in the area — some of them only recently retaken by Ukrainian forces — were shelled over the last day.

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Notice that, just in this one small area of the war, Russia is also attempting to push toward Mykolaiv from the south, and toward Zaporizhzhia on the north. This is in addition to the multiple attempts to push from the east. Russia appears to be once again attempting to operate a at least a half dozen advances, all at once, and the one on Kryvyi Rih appears to have no good reason other than the fact that it’s Zelenskyy’s home town.
 

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Wednesday, Apr 27, 2022 · 9:46:29 AM EDT · Mark Sumner
Meanwhile, in the area of Izyum, Russia also seems to be launching multiple, narrow assaults.

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Some of the difference between this map and yesterday represents genuine Russian gains west of Izyum. Some of it comes from failure to recognize changes that took place in the previous 24 hours. But Russia is currently engaged in an attempt to move west along the road that — assuming they could hold a couple of hundred miles more supply lines — would eventually reach Dnipro. They’re also moving southwest in a route that looks as its designed to cut off the entire oblast by running down to Donetsk. And they’re moving south in a direction that might allow them to surround Kramatorsk. And they’re continuing an attempt to break through the eastern lines at multiple points.

Some intelligence agencies are still reporting that Russia hasn’t launched their “big attack” in the east — but it seems easy to believe that this is it. Just as they’ve done from day one of this invasion, Russia has simply been unable to mass forces and coordinate behind anything that looks like a strong, unified push.
 

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Wednesday, Apr 27, 2022 · 11:22:46 AM EDT · Mark Sumner
It’s not clear how many Americans have volunteered to serve in Ukraine. It’s certainly in the hundreds, possibly the thousands. And while some of those who have gone to Ukraine have taken positions that keep the vital supply chain running, others — especially those with previous military experience — are right there on the front lines.




FRXBfFPX0AAtGQX
 

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Russia expects the economy to contract by 8.8% in 2022 in its base case scenario, or by 12.4% under a more conservative scenario, an economy ministry document showed on Wednesday, further evidence that sanctions pressure is taking its toll.

The conservative forecast is in line with that of former finance minister Alexei Kudrin, who said earlier this month the economy was on track to contract by more than 10% this year in its biggest decline in gross domestic product since 1994.

The economy ministry expects Russia's economy to grow 1.3% in 2023, 4.6% in 2024 and 2.8% in 2025, the document showed. In the conservative scenario, the economy is seen contracting 1.1%.

The extent of the damage to the economy this year is unclear due to uncertainty regarding possible new sanctions and trade issues. The government is likely to revise forecasts several times this year.

Inflation, which has already soared to 17.62% as of April 15, is seen accelerating to as high as 22.6% this year, the document showed, and remaining well above the central bank's 4% target in 2023.

The central bank hiked rates to 20% from 9.5% in late February in an emergency move that Governor Elvira Nabiullina said helped stabilise the rouble and overcome an inflation spike.

The bank's key rate was lowered to 17% on April 8 in another unscheduled move. Analysts polled by Reuters now expect rates to fall further, by 200 basis points to 15%, at the bank's next rate-setting meeting on Friday.

Capital investment is set to slump by 25.4-31.8% after growth of 7.7% in 2021, while real disposable incomes, a highly sensitive metric for Russia, especially with rising prices hitting living standards, could drop 9.7% in 2022, according to the ministry's conservative estimate.

The World Bank has forecast Russia's 2022 GDP output will fall by 11.2% due to Western sanctions imposed on Russia's banks, state-owned enterprises and other institutions.
 

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Ukraine update: Ukraine's well-calculated strikes inside Russia have multiple effects
Mark Sumner

On Sunday, a pair of fuel deports in Bryansk, Russia, roughly 100 miles from the border with Ukraine, exploded into flames. As with the fuel depot that “mysteriously” burned in Belgorod, Russia, back on March 31 (after two Ukrainian helicopters were seen zipping past in a daring treetop-level raid), Ukrainian officials are being cagey about the cause of the explosions at Bryansk. But there seems almost no doubt that the fires were started by a carefully targeted Ukrainian assault that avoided hitting civilian targets and went straight for vital military supplies.



Speaking of Belgorod, there was another explosion in Belgorod oblast early on Wednesday morning. In this case, an ammunition storage area in the village of Staraya Nelidovka, barely 10 miles from the Ukrainian border, went up in a series of spectacular explosions.



Belgorod wasn’t the only ammunition storage facility to blow sky high in the last 24 hours. Another mystery fire broke out at a smaller ammunition storage facility in the Russian-occupied area of Luhansk. This time, it was near the town of Pervomaisk. Except this was no mystery at all, since this was close enough that it may have been shelled from Ukrainian forces still struggling to hold the town of Popasna just a handful of miles to the west.



The amount and nature of ammunition lost at Pervomaisk and Staraya Nelidovka is hard to estimate, and it’s not clear that it will have a great impact on Russia’s efforts in the war, except that both these attacks should indicate to Russia that their ammunition storage facilities are vulnerable. That might generate a tendency not to stockpile as much material in a single location. Considering the difficulties that Russia is already having with logistics, making them sweat the placement of materials has some value on its own.

When it comes to the destruction of the fuel supplies at Bryansk, those 1,500 tons represent about 430,000 gallons, or roughly 170,000 miles of travel for T-72 tanks. The earlier strike at the fuel depot in Belgorod generated rationing of fuel across a wide area.

But it’s not just the diesel that’s going missing—it’s the ability to store large amounts of diesel close to the area of combat. The missing tanks at Belgorod and Bryansk may not put any real cap on the fuel available to Russian forces; however, they could definitely mean that fuel tankers hauling supplies to those forces have a much more lengthy round trip. As with the strikes on ammo depots, that’s a direct attack on Russia’s fragile ability to juggle logistics.

One other thing that might shake Russia up just a bit: Bryansk is almost exactly halfway between Kyiv and Moscow.
 

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Wednesday, Apr 27, 2022 · 1:03:21 PM EDT · Mark Sumner
Twitter user @Dmitri has translated a number of interesting conversations between Russian soldiers in Ukraine and family members back home. But few of them are so twisted as this “wholesome” family conversation between a father and son over which military systems the son should steal.



FRXMNBjXMAImOlE


Wednesday, Apr 27, 2022 · 1:10:35 PM EDT · Mark Sumner
Seriously, that whole conversation could be a dark comedy sketch. I can’t get machine gun. You want missile? I don’t want missile, how about pistol? No pistol. Land mine?
 
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Ten Thousan Marbles

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Great moments in the American presidency: 'They were going to do fruit'
Hunter

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Bad: throwing fruit at me. Good: attacking the U.S. Capitol, resulting in deaths. It's all in my new book, 'Very Dangerous Stuff'

Your day probably hasn't been weird enough, so let's fix that right now with a quote from an ex-President of These United States.

"I wanted to have people be ready because we were put on alert that they were going to do fruit," said Donald J. Trump, previously in charge of this nation's nuclear arsenal.

As reported by The Daily Beast, this and many other important fruit-related quotes have now surfaced thanks to an October deposition just now being filed in the civil lawsuit against Trump brought by Trump Tower protesters who were assaulted by Trump's private security force back in 2015. Lawyers for those protesters were probing Trump's history of encouraging violence against protesters in general, including his public request to a crowd at one of his 2016 rallies that "If you see someone getting ready to throw a tomato, just knock the crap out of them, would you?"

This led the man who could once issue orders to nuclear submarines, perhaps orders demanding that they pull up to a seaside McDonalds and order him some fries, to explain that he was justified in asking the crowd to "knock the crap" out of anyone who might try to throw fruit because his campaign had learned somebody might possibly be planning to throw fruit and the fruit-throwing could have been "very dangerous."


Via The Daily Beast, then, are some of the fruit-related highlights of Trump's testimony:

"You get hit with fruit, it's—no, it’s very violent stuff. We were on alert for that."

Tomatoes are: "very dangerous stuff."

"You can get killed with those things."

"Some fruit is a lot worse than—tomatoes are bad, by the way. But it’s very dangerous. No, I wanted them to watch. They were on alert. I remember that specific event because everybody was on alert. They were going to hit, they were going to hit hard."

"You can be killed if that happens."

.......
The specific fruits Trump enumerated as "dangerous stuff" consist of "pineapples, tomatoes, bananas, stuff like that." While the threat of pineapples is obvious, there remain few to no incidents of American politicians being pelted by pineapples, because they are simply too heavy to throw very far. Bananas could potentially be dangerous because, being of a boomerang-like shape, a skilled thrower could potentially throw a banana that would approach from an unexpected direction, foiling even the most skilled of Secret Service agents and resulting in a potential Dear Leader being poked somewhat annoyingly by one of the banana's two somewhat pointy ends.

As for the "very dangerous," "very violent," and "you can be killed if that happens" nature of a thrown tomato, the dangers are a bit less clear. Is it possible the tomato juice could have combined with Trump's velvety facial make-up to produce some sort of napalm-like solution? Is there a way for tomatoes and other thrown fruits to combine to produce, say, thermite?

These mysteries have not been cleared up, no doubt because government agents demanded that those explanations be deleted from deposition tapes lest terrorists from fruit-rich nations discover them.

Or, possibly, Trump had a dream about somebody pelting him with fruit onstage and was so terrified of such humiliation that the next day he ordered an entire rally crowd of chanting weirdos to "knock the crap" out of anyone in the building who was suspected of having fruit.

I mean, you could probably poke an eye out if you threw a chicken wing at someone—but Trump didn't request similar assaults on those holding meat. Very suspicious if you ask me.

And how did the Trump campaign make it through such a trying time without any announcement, ever, declaring that from now on Jared Kushner was going to be put in charge of Fruit and Fruit Trajectories? How are we supposed to believe that Trump’s inner circle was concerned about fruit attacks if Kushner was tasked with authoring not even one Google-researched report on fruit dangers?

Anyhoo, this has been your regular reminder that the Republican Party put Donald Freaking Trump in a position of mind-boggling power on purpose, knowing full well his positions and histories and having many, many videotapes, some of them pornographic, on hand as documentation. And a bunch of preachers came to lay hands on him, and a bunch of top intelligence analysts tried to wedge a bit of vital knowledge into his head by giving him pretty pictures to look at when it became clear he wasn't going to read intelligence briefings that weren't pretty-picture based, and a bunch of Republican lawmakers stepped forward one by one to declare that Donald Trump was the most brilliant tax-dodging rapist they had ever met even after a lifetime of sucking up to other tax-dodging rapists, and none of it stuck and the man who wanted to dissolve NATO and proposed bombing a hurricane and thought that he and he alone had the chops to stand up to world dictators and bravely do, er, whatever they asked him to do ...


... left office only after violence and is now carrying on a quiet life of explaining which fruits are dangerous (spoiler: all of them) and what his crack security team or just random Trump devotees ought to be able to do to someone Suspected Of Holding Fruit.

Enjoy the rest of your day, America. This is not, by any means, the last you will be hearing about this.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: The most important vehicle on the battlefield isn't a tank
Mark Sumner

In a sea of tanks, armored personal carriers (APC), infantry fighting vehicles (IFV), armored fighting vehicles (AFV), Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicles, it can be easy to overlook the vehicles that are most often responsible for getting soldiers where they need to be on the battlefield—Infantry Mobility Vehicles. Also known as Jeeps.

Well, not actually Jeeps. But these are the vehicles that serve the role somewhere between Willy’s Jeeps and the 6×6 truck “Jimmy” trucks that were workhorses of U.S. forces in World War II. They get soldiers from bases to units a lot faster and more reliably than a lumbering APC. They deliver critical spare parts to where they’re needed. They patrol towns and villages behind the front lines. Depending on the level of armor and equipment, they can even become surprisingly involved in combat.

When Russia invaded, there were already a number of vehicles serving this role in Ukraine. That included the home grown Kozak-2 and Novator, and one that might be surprising—American Humvees.

When the U.S. announced it’s latest package of assistance, it included 200 more Humvees. This may have seemed like another of those “we’re only adding to the complexity of their supply chain” moments, but Ukraine already had about 350 Humvees playing various roles in their military. The reason that Humvees are showing up in some of the images of vehicles destroyed in Mariupol and eastern Ukraine is not because these are vehicles that rolled off the plane outside Lviv and somehow driven through Russian lines to reach the Azovstal plant. It’s because these are what Ukraine was using already.

It’s also one of their principle needs. Missiles, drones, planes, and tanks may all get more press, but IMVs are almost as central to a functional army as food and ammo. When you look at those videos of the Russian military rolling down the road, and see a huge variety of poorly-maintained, cobbled-together vehicles serving in this role, that’s one of the best signs that the Russian military has enormous issues. When it comes to an actual light armored infantry mobility vehicle, Russia has both tens of thousands and almost none. The GAZ Tigr and Iveco LMV theoretically fill this role, but the later has been quite a rare sighting in Ukraine. 80 GAZ Tigr are known dead.


Eighteen Humvees of various configurations are known dead on the Ukrainian side. Several of these seem to have been captured intact and deliberately burned by Russian forces (something they’ve done not just in Ukraine, but in other conflict zones) as a sign of their disdain for America. That’s a good reason to smile. That’s one tough, capable, reliable vehicle that’s not going into service for Vladimir Putin, and Russian forces are depriving themselves.

The level of armor and equipment on a Humvee, or any other light armored vehicle, can vary greatly. They can carry levels of armor that will protect against light machine guns and be beefed up to protect occupants against IEDs. They carry their own machine gun mounts, or launchers for anti-tank missiles.

Now Ukraine is getting a whole new variety of vehicles that are in, or close to, the same category as the Hummvee. On Wednesday, Canada announced they were sending along 8 Roshel Senators (which are based on a heavy duty Ford truck). Those common underpinnings may make this vehicle easier to maintain—but this is a brand new vehicle, so how it will perform in the field is unknown. (Roshel, and Canada, are surely interested in finding out.)



The U.K. is sending along the Husky, which is based on a vehicle by that other producer of hardcore American trucks (that you may never have heard of if you don’t live in the Midwest), Navistar International. The U.K. may be sending as many as 120, hopefully along with some mechanics and a good collection of spare parts. Though if these things are reliable as an old International pickup, expect them to come in for service around 2050.



Sure, these vehicles are definitely not tanks. They’re not flashy. They’re just vital. And they get used up quickly in any serious engagement, especially if they come into contact with a serious armored column.



When they’re reading the list of equipment on the way, drones may be exciting, long range artillery may be a relief, but you can bet the guys in the field are most relieved to see more IMVs on the way.
 

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Wednesday, Apr 27, 2022 · 9:07:35 PM EDT · Mark Sumner
After several days of fighting, Russia has captured Zarichne. Defenders in Oleksandrivka and other towns along the eastern bank of the Siverskyi Donets River have moved south to better defensive systems, allowing Russian forces to move into a whole series of towns.

Further east, Russia consolidated gains in Rubizhne (though the town has not been completely taken) as well as driving forward through a number of villages. Popasna continues to be the scene of intense fighting. Russia has captured more of the town, but Ukraine holds the western areas.

By pressing south from Zarichne toward Yampril, where fighting is going on now, Russian forces are threatening to create what would seem a much more possible route to connect with forces pushing up from Popasna, which would allow them to cut off Ukrainian troops along the eastern border. However, Russia’s insistence on mounting attacks west of Izyum, as well as southwest and south, certainly makes it seem that there’s not yet any fixed goal for any of the actions underway.

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