Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment — 9 Mar 22
War in Ukraine continues. Here are a few topics of interest for today:
· Here is the ISW assessrep for 9 March (with the link this time).
· Yesterday, I shared a well-written piece about Sergey Shoygu and referred to him as the “former” minister of defense. While he is almost certainly in hot water over the performance of the military, there are no reports to substantiate his removal, “retirement” or “unannounced absence” from his current post. Apologies for any confusion.
· Speaking of miscalculation and myopia, the Modern War Institute offers up a discussion about Putin’s folly of pushing for regime change and the likely consequences… such as occupying a country the size of Texas with a really pissed off population (and who will soon be as armed as Texans).
· The UK MoD now suspects that the Russians are actively using the TOS-1A “Flamethrower”, a thermobaric rocket launcher. There was some speculation about the use of thermobarics last week, and many of those units were already in place, but we’ll likely see heavier reliance on them as Russia grows increasingly desperate.
· Speaking of desperate, Putin has decided to employ yet another goon-squad, our favorite Russian mercs, the Wagner Group. This is a fun lot known for their brutality, penchant for war crimes and dying by the dozens at the hands of US SOF in Syria. So while they aren’t particularly effective as a conventional combat force, this fits into Putin’s MO for employing intimidation tactics and indiscriminate targeting of civilians.
· In a nod to geo-political fan fiction, the Russians are accusing the US of manufacturing chemical weapons in Ukraine. This is likely their excuse to claim, “See! Chemical weapons!” after they use chemical weapons in Ukraine.
· Reported on CNN and WTOP: some civilians have been able to leave besieged cities through humanitarian corridors. About 60,000 Ukrainians were reported to have fled to the western border yesterday. Unable to help themselves however, Russian troops just couldn’t let a day go by without attacking fleeing refugees or civilian hospitals. Lavarov said that the hospital hit in Mariupol was housing “militants”. By militants, he meant toddlers, and expecting mothers.
· Many have been critical of the Biden Administration’s handling of the Ukraine crisis. As it turns out, the administration has done quite a bit behind the scenes, and they have not tooted their own horns. This quiet exercise of American power, is actually quite effective of combating Russia without feeding the “imperialist-America” narrative that the KGB FSB likes to push.
· Russians meddle with Chernobyl (again). They’ve taken it off of the Ukrainian power grid which, from a military standpoint, makes sense. However, it becomes problematic when the storage facilities for spent fuel rods no longer have power and result in a radiation leak.
· Russian casualty estimates continue to grow, but numbers vary widely. Given the pace of fighting and the intensity, a good ballpark figure is in the neighborhood of 8–12k KIA. Because many of these combat deaths have been missile kills against tanks, BMPs, and BTRs, the number of WIA is likely lower than they would be if Russian units were engaged in urban combat.
o The numbers themselves are not as important as the effects of these casualties on the force.
o For sake of argument, we’ll say that Russian casualties are 10,000 KIA, 25,000 WIA, and 10,000 MIA/POW/Desertion. That is potentially 25% of their total force that they committed to the start of the invasion. Because many of those casualties are coming from combat units, this is disproportionately impacting Russia’s ability to generate combat power to sustain their offensive.
o Even if the casualty figures are half of the SWAG above, the impact to Russian force generation is enormous, and would contribute to the stalling of the offensives around Kyiv that we’ve seen over the last week.
· Amateur hackers continue to sow chaos in Russian media. Anonymous hacked pro-Putin channels to show the true devastation of the invasion of Ukraine.
· Before we get to one of my favorite amateur OSINT aggregators, here is an interesting piece about the explosion of popularity of amateur OSINT aggregators. Again, welcome to war in the 21st Century. Coverage of Vietnam came via Walter Cronkite every night. Desert Storm and embed reporters spawned the 24 hour news media that carried us into OIF/OEF. Now, a civilian with a cellphone and a Twitter account are our eyes and ears into the present and future wars. These aggregators serve an interesting function of helping to sift through the reams of data, separate likely fact from fabricated fiction, and provide a summary of events. In many cases, they are days ahead of official reports to Congress from the intel community because they don’t have a bureaucratic process to follow. As our understanding of modern information operations evolve, this will be a new frontier for the war of public opinion as states begin to see the potential applications for their own messaging. Some of these aggregators are not far off from reaching the level of influence as Matt Drudge.
· Below are the maps produced by @JominiW. You’ll note that the situation almost across the board has not changed a great deal over the last 24 hours for various reasons stated above.
If you have questions, comments, concerns or corrections, please let me know. If you have feedback as to whether you’d like to see more or less of certain topics covered, also, please let me know.
Eric (Token Army Guy)