Railroads, Logistics, and War, US Versus Russian Style

It’s really easy to be overly contrary, but it’s quite remarkable again and again to see the press, presumably reflecting what their political and military sources in the West are telling them, that Russia has a lousy no good military…that is nevertheless beating what Scott Ritter repeatedly depicted as a military trained to NATO standards and interchangeable with other NATO units.

We’ll use as a case study an article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, The 19th-Century Technology Driving Russia’s Latest Gains in Ukraine: Railroads. Even the photo at the top is unwittingly at odds with the message:

Have a good look at the tracks. Maybe only a railroad maven like Lambert would see it, but those are beautiful, and most assuredly 21st century standard tracks.

Before we get to the particular questions about this article, let’s remember why this sort of thing matters. We are already suffering the cost of badly misjudging who would suffer more from the sanctions imposed on Russia, as shown by the Fed raising interest rates in a destructive effort to kill an inflation that isn’t the result of too much demand but supply shocks. We’ve similarly warned it’s reckless for the US and NATO to persist in underestimating Russia, and It’s going to unduly prolong the war, assure that there will be no negotiated outcome (not that any was all that likely given our “not agreement-capable” status) and produce an orgy of military spending in a misguided effort to contain Russia when we’re backfiring at that at almost every turn.

Larry C. Johnson explained the why the US considerably over-estimates its capabilities:

I want to focus on one of the key themes in Andrei Martyanov’s essential book, Losing Military Supremacy–the weapon systems the United States is spending money to develop and deploy are obscenely expensive and completely vulnerable to Russia’s weapons created to defeat the American threat. Let me explain it this way. The United States has created the most expensive racing car in the world but the race it will run is over an off-road course littered with rocks, deep ruts and sandy mountains. In short, the vehicle will breakdown and not complete the race.

Here is Andrei’s summation of the problem:

Manipulation and PR are no substitute for actual victory which is defined universally as achieving the political objectives of the war, or in Clausewitz’s one liner—the ability to compel the enemy to do our will. The United States military’s balance sheet on that is simply not impressive, despite a mammoth military budget, immensely expensive weapons and a massive, well-oiled PR machine. All this is the result of the US military-industrial complex long ago becoming a jobs program for retired Pentagon generals and an embodiment of the neoconservative “view” on war—a view developed by people, most of whom never served a single day in uniform and do not possess even basic fundamental knowledge of the physical principles on which modern weapons operate and how technological dimensions reflect upon tactical, operational and strategic aspects of war (they are all tightly interconnected and do not exist separately). But talking up or blowing out of proportion, or grossly exaggerating US military capabilities does not require a serious academic and experiential foundation—today it is enough to have that desire and a good command of the English language to do so.

Excerpt From Losing Military Supremacyby Andrei Martyanov

The focus in that must-read Johnson article was on weapons systems, but the collective West has taken to denigrating Russia’s capabilities because their military doctrine is different than ours. They use far less in the way of air planes and pilots and way way more in the way of precision long-distance missiles….which they’ve shown in Ukraine to be very effective, and that’s before giving credit to their hypersonic missiles. They didn’t take Kiev not because they couldn’t but that clearly hasn’t yet been an aim. They’ve been going methodically in Donbass because it’s very heavily bunkered and Russia is good at attrition.

With that as background, the thesis of the Wall Street Journal is Russia has a primitive military because it doesn’t used modern commercial logistics. It also makes claims about Russia abandoning equipment and running out of fuel that have been debunked by experts . Photos of dead tqnks and armored vehicles have been repeatedly shown to be Ukraine equipment, or from Donbass years ago, or from completely different theaters.1 For convenience, see Larry Johnson here starting at 8:20 for an assessment of Russia’s performance early in the conflict.

Let’s turn to the discussion of trains and logistics:

Russian forces have advanced in eastern Ukraine over recent weeks behind overwhelming artillery barrages, a shift in fortunes made possible by better access to rail lines delivering tons of ammunition and other supplies.

Trains are the Russian military’s go-to method for moving troops and heavy weapons. In Ukraine’s industrialized Donbas region, dense rail networks have played to Moscow’s advantage.

Russia’s military depends so heavily on trains that it maintains an elite Railroad Force, a service branch once common in countries through World War II. The unit has camouflage-painted armored train cars equipped with antiaircraft cannons and artillery to guard supply trains, and its troops are trained to repair bombed tracks while under enemy fire. Russia’s Defense Ministry said it has restored 750 miles of track in the land corridor it now controls in Ukraine’s southeast.

This discussion omits what some readers have pointed out: Russia can and does built fresh temporary rail lines. It isn’t restricted to existing tracks. Admittedly that requires accommodating terrain but it means Russia is not restricted to existing railways as the piece indicates.

We then get to this part:

But Russia’s heavy reliance on train transport, a 19th-century technology, reveals critical gaps in its logistics, the coordinated transfer of supplies. Russia’s struggle to supply troops away from rail lines has slowed its invasion and contributed to catastrophic failures in its early offensives to take Kyiv and Kharkiv.

This is false. Russia depicted is campaign as a special military operation. It clearly did not send enough troops to take Kiev. That was design. Kharkiv looks more like an intelligence failure (this may have been one of the cities where senior officials signed “no contest” letter and were either shot or were double dealing).

Clausewitz, which treats politics and war as integrated. Russia’s supposed terrible first phase not only got Ukraine to the negotiating table but won such significant concessions in Istanbul at the end of March that the UK and US had to order Ukraine to repudiate them.

Now to the argument about railroads and logistics:

Unlike the U.S. and other countries that have adopted modern military logistics, Russia has largely remained wedded to traditional Soviet-era methods. It isn’t just a sign of the military’s failure, according to Western officials. The shortfall results from a lack of modernization in Russia’s economy.

Russia boasts one of the world’s largest military forces, equipped with nuclear submarines and intercontinental ballistic missiles, but it has few shipping containers, forklifts or pallets of the kind the U.S. is using to speed supplies into Ukraine, according to logistics experts.

To unpack this a bit more, Russia is allegedly able to get in enough artillery in Donbass (Alexander Mercouris yesterday said at least 70,000 rounds a day) because the area is industrial and has a lot of rail lines. First, Russia is not going to need anywhere near as intense artillery barrages as it does in Donbass. The Ukraine army has bunkered it heavily all along the old line of contact, and in rows beyond that. It’s literally hundreds of kilometers of fortifications. That obstacle exists no where else in potential theaters in Ukraine.

Second, I can’t see the detail on the map all that well, but from the briefings on Military Summary, Russia is using mainly roads and not railroads for supply in Lugansk, which is the north-eastern of the two oblasts. So if that is correct, the Wall Street Journal thesis has already broken down even in Donbass. Similarly, why would a pontoon bridge over the Seversky Donets be an important focus of fighting if Russia were so rail dependent?

A related part of the logistics argument is that Russia is hopelessly behind because it uses muscle and not containers and forklifts. They ground the military argument in the fact that Russia generally relies less on delivery trucks than the US does:

Modern cargo handling relies on containers of standard sizes that fit trucks, train cars, ships and hoisting equipment. Russia’s container ports in 2020 handled slightly more of the containers than those in Colombia and fewer than France, according to United Nations data. The volume of container traffic passing through Russia has been largely flat since 2013, while global volume rose 23% over the same period….

Russians load cargo manually into railway vehicles that travel its national rail system, which forms the backbone of the country’s freight network.

Russians allegedly rely on wooden crates “which can weigh more than 100 pounds when full” as the purported backbone of their logistics. Um, that means nearly all the time, two fit men can move them, particularly if they have a few low-tech aids like winches and dollies for big jobs.

The US found in World War II that using pallets and forklifts would reduce man hours to unload supply ships by a factor of 3. But these aren’t supply ships! What are the figures for more comparable modal shifts?

Let’s get to the reasons for my reservations. See this photo?

First, those happen to be the famed Javelins. Gee, how successful hove our logistics been in getting them to Donbass? They’ve been a complete fail in the field, although that may be mainly due to their batteries being no good, as opposed to them getting to the east of Ukraine in sufficient numbers.

But what looks wrong with that picture? Look at all the stuff you need! You need the forklift. We are told you need pallets. Recall in West Coast ports we’ve had pallet shortages? What happens if a forklift breaks? How many do you have in reserve? How many guys are trained to do the easy field fixes when they get in trouble?

In other words, yes the US system is likely more efficient when you have it up and running. But it takes more moving parts. More moving parts = more potential points of failure. By contrast, Russia effectively chunks its supplies into smaller packages that guys can move.

Rail lover Lambert came to similar conclusions:

It’s a legitimate point that Russia could struggle to move materiel beyond the railhead. But it’s also ASSERTED, not proved. Who says this? (“Shape the conflict going forward” is a delicate way of saying that a sparse network could impede a move on Odessa.)

The rest of it is a paean to the American Way of Logistics which naturally is the Only Way. (Implied: “Amateurs talk strategy. Professionals talk logistics”). The author’s issue is that Russia’s logistics aren’t containerized, there are no forklifts or palettes or robots, and there’s a lot of human labor (An early version of containerization was developed for the Vietnam war, which, of course, we lost.) The conflation of primitive with different (optimized for different conditions) is pretty pervasive.

However, Russia has never required an enormous 21st Century containerized multimodal ship -> rail -> truck network, because Russia doesn’t run its economy based on enormous quantities of consumer crap from China (and when they do import, I bet it goes overland). So it’s dumb to expect Russia to have leveraged a commercial supply chain they do not possess. (I would also like to know how much of our wondrous supply chain is run by Halliburton and its buddies.) As for robots, “chipless” could well be essential in even as short a time as a decade.

The only question is whether Russia’s approach to logistics supports the warfighter (and not whether its optimal according to American standards). In the special case of Donbas, it clearly does. In the more sparse rail networks of Western Ukraine, this remains to be seen. That is the key point of the article, and unfortunately that key point is only ASSERTED, and not reported!!!!!

Finally, as to the performance of American logistics in Ukraine, remember that Russia took out most of Ukraine’s rail capacity in the west by destroying the electrical transformers in all of the major rail junctions. Over 80% of the Ukraine’s trains are electric-powered, so Ukraine and its Western allies can only use a much smaller number of diesel trains.

So how are they doing without having much use of those trains they pooh pooh to get weapons to the east? Consider this May 22 talk by Jacob Dreizin2:

At 1:33, Dreizin discusses how Javelins and other light weapons have failed.

But the money quote is at 16:50 (emphasis mine):

The fact that these cannons [howitzers] have been deployed in east Ukraine is an admission that Uncle Sam has not been able to get any better, more modern artillery systems into eastern Ukraine and this is all they could do, this is the best they could do….In recent decades, even in recent generations, the whole trend, the military trend, has been away from towed cannon and towards self-propelled cannons, self propelled guns, because they’re more versatile, they’re tracked, they can go off road anywhere, they carry their own ammo in their turrets, at least some of it, and they can move around much faster, you know, move and shoot from here, whereas these towed systems essentially have been abandoned by all Western armies, everybody from the US to the UK to Israel. I think they’re being fielded only by the US Marine Corps. The US Army does not have any towed artillery at this time whatsoever…These are still conceptually antiquated systems, very vulnerable from the air….If you are fighting a modern enemy, these are absolutely impractical weapons systems.

I find it hard to see how the US can be preening about Western logistics when we spent eight years funding and training Ukraine to NATO standards and they can’t adequately supply Ukraine. Now admittedly there are lots of reasons in addition to logistics, like Russia has done a good job of blowing up weapons deliveries, a lot of the weapons were old and didn’t operate well, and many of the ones that did work were likely sold on the black market. But even so, Dreizin’s account that it appears that the only large weapons system we could get to the east is the military equivalent of an antique is pretty damning.

_____

1 If you’ve been at all following the war, you can see clear fakery in the article. For instance, it claims to have overheard a Russian soldier “over an open frequency.” As Scott Ritter has stressed, again repeatedly, any stories claiming to have captured Russian telecommunications are obviously false. Russia uses only secure comms and we have not cracked them. Russian soldiers have their phones taken from them and understand full well using any non-military device reveals your location and an invitation to get you and your companions killed pronto.

2 Dreizin made some minor corrections to this video: “Every time I said “trailer” in this video, I meant to say “hitch.” Also, the Javelin missile is self-guided, not wire-guided”

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73 comments

  1. Cesar Jeopardy

    Emphasizing the national highway system in the U.S. over the rail system has been one of the biggest policy blunders of the 20th century. We used to be able to take fast, efficient trains between towns, large and small, in Western NY State. No more. And passenger cars account for 1/3 to 1/2 of CO2 emissions. What a mess. Totally FUBAR.

    Reply
  2. Lex

    Is this another example of why a nation builds a military influencing how the military looks? I’m sure Russia could improve its logistics, but if the point is to defend Russia then railroads make the most sense. The US has a military designed to project force globally so it has to move everything by sea or air; it also needs a large air force to project force.

    Or we could take from this that regardless of pronouncements from DC, the Russian military is not built to be a conquering force in foreign lands but an actual defensive organization logistically limited to its near abroad and smallish operations like Syria.

    Reply
  3. Louis Fyne

    A forklift needs an outlet (grid or generator) to charge its battery—something that gets more expensive as you go closer to the front.

    Western militaries are literally designed to fight 3rd world militias. Something to keep in mind as DC pokes the dragon as it is poking the bear.

    Martyanov’s books are great. Alas will not get mainstream traction as it is “truth to power”

    Reply
    1. Solarjay

      Hi Louis,
      Yes some forklifts in warehouses are electric, but a high % of the rest are gasoline/diesel/propane.

      Reply
    2. Mark Gisleson

      Another thing about forklifts is that they require clean, flat surfaces to operate on. They can barely operate on gravel, let alone in mud or on ice. And the bigger/heavier the containers, the bigger and more powerful the forklifts (not sure the ratio, but there’s a limit to how much a forklift can pick up without tipping over). This is why you rarely see forklifts on farms: they’re not suitable for agriculture or any endeavor not involving warehouses.

      Martyanov is a joy to read because he gets the practical stuff and from a distance (never served) the practical stuff seems pretty fundamental to war, and after reading this I have to suspect that Yves also knows a lot more about war than most of us.

      Reply
      1. jabalarky

        lol what? large farms in North America generally have forklifts, both the outdoor and the indoor types, and telehandlers are becoming more and more common.

        Reply
          1. eagle eye

            Front end loaders on big tractors, not forklifts. Farmers do fit forklifts to 4wd tractors but I have never seen one that could lift over 2000kgs safely.

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        1. BlakeFelix

          If a farm has a flat warehouse it might have an indoor forklift, but around here a skidster, which is kinda like an off-road forklift, or a tractor can both have forks for pallets or buckets or whatever.

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      2. ex-PFC chuck roast

        I checked out the wayback machine from my military days and I recalled an articulated forklift that was used to push around our bombs. The current machine depicts a number of Light Capability Rough Terrain Forklifts that would seem perfectly adequate for quickly pushing around many pallet loads of ordinance in a front-line environment. The US Army has 10K and 5K models.

        Reply
        1. Mark Gisleson

          Guilty of being old. Didn’t realize the military had military forklifts, or that farms (not owned by my family) are now so big they need forklifts (a tractor being used as a forklift is still a tractor).

          I just know that regular forklifts thrive in warehouse settings, do poorly in the wild.

          Reply
          1. Mark Gisleson

            Thanks for the picture. I have NEVER seen anything like that and my brother was a parts manager for a chain of Iowa/Minnesota John Deere dealerships.

            Then again, I never went shopping at any of those dealerships…

            Reply
  4. Thuto

    When supposed luminaries like Francis Fukuyama are labouring furiously to continue spinning the “Russia is losing” yarn in pursuit of taking the pantomime villian Putin and the fearsomeness of his military down a peg or two in western minds (in spite of the fact that it’s Nato, and not Russia, that’s been shown to be a paper tiger), then It’s clear the analytical heft of the western intelligentsia is in serious need of a reboot. When confronted with analysis that pokes holes in their fairytales, the best retort they can muster is calling those who breach the approved narrative Putin bootlickers. The sad (and dangerous) part is that policy wonks in the west base their advice to Ukraine on these types of “expert” analyses, which all spin tales about Russia’s weaknesses to send thousands of wide eyed Ukrainian young men into the Russian artillery meatgrinder.

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      Any class society comes to need a priestly class, not merely to dispose of overproduced elites, but to triangulate economic relations. If the real imperative of the intelligentsia is not in fact to increase general knowledge and serve the general will, but to reproduce the certain, particular socio-economic schema and relationships that “persons of property” prefer, then the intelligentsia are doing their duty pretty well given the sad materials to work with, and have certainly dug in well for the next campaign.

      Reply
    2. c_heale

      Why would anyone listen to anything Fukuyama says after he wrote a book entitled The End of History. It’s common sense that all empires fall.

      Reply
      1. eg

        In fairness to him he has repudiated his own “maximalist” position as articulated in that book and I found his later “The Origins of Political Order” and “Political Order and Political Decay” had much to say that was of value. Like many writers you have to sift and glean to separate the wheat from the chaff …

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    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well . . . there’s the royal court intelligentsia, and then there’s the in-internal-exile intelligentsia.

      Professor Steven Cohen was plenty intelligentsian, for example. But he was in-internal-exile, not royal court.

      So you can find intelligent intelligentsians in America. But you have to look in odd out-of-the-way corners to find them in their places of internal exile from government or influence.

      Reply
  5. Safety First

    Back in 1994, a former military officer and professor of Military Science at WVU (and now, apparently, a physicist) called Robert Leonhard wrote a book called “The Art of Maneuver”. Appendix A of said volume goes into in-depth analysis of US Army’s performance during Operation Desert Storm, in which Leonhard himself had fought. Pages 296-298 in particular discuss the logistical aspect. I hereby quote excerpts therefrom, hereto, wherewithal, and aftershave:

    There was a decided lack of necessary transport both in the fighting units and in their support battalions. Part of the problem is that with the stringent money and personnel constraints…it is easy to build peacetime organizations and overlook the real transportation needs of units in war. During peacetime training…units are never actually required to move mass casualties or prisoners of war…although fuel is used in training…ammunition usually is not…

    …In Desert Storm…most units had difficulty maintaining a healthy flow of supplies. Lack of fuel at the front lines was one of the not-so-obvious reasons for an early ceasefire. And although most units did not expend very much ammunition, the need to haul the basic load tied up many trucks. Retail food operations did not go off very well either…The supply of major end items, such as tanks, trucks, and radios, went fairly well, but…that system was not severely tested either, because battle losses were so low…repair parts were the biggest problem throughout the theater. (In our battalion…not one requisition was successfully processed during the entire war and after!) The army’s overreliance on automation…paralyzed the maintenance effort because computers did not ship well [and] frequently broke down…

    …postwar trends suggest [lack of sufficient transport] will worsen…the new concept calls for support units to push supplies forward to [front-line] units, rather than the traditional method of distribution, in which front-line units use their own transportation to pick up supplies from supply points…the using unit always wants its supplies more than the supporting unit wants to deliver them.”

    To be fair, Leonhard also praises wholesale operations – delivering the stuff to supply dumps in rear areas. It is mostly the retail side of things, pushing things out to combat units, where things tended to break down then…and arguably would still break down now, because what happened in the early 2000s is the Pentagon (bless them!) decided to privatise the trucks running supplies from depots in the Gulf up to the bases in Iraq. But that is a story for another day, I suppose…

    So, to wrap up, a few points:

    1. There is an element of pot-meet-kettle in the whole “Russian logistics are 19th century” discussion, because the last time the US had a significant shooting war (Iraq 2 hardly counts), well, see above.

    2. Again, given that Iraq 2 and Afghanistan were basically low-level insurgencies with only an occasional Fallujah (2200 US infantry plus supports for a month, not exactly a D-Day level logistical operation), an argument can be made that the US is operating, and has been for decades, on peacetime logistical models, and is comping the Russians to those. Apples, meet oranges.

    3. Focussing on Russian railroads actually misses the boat somewhat, as these are wholesale logistics, and a rail network is great for moving massive loads up to supply depots. The real question is how good are Russian retail logistics, and given the intensity of the fighting and ammunition usage, I would say at this point they have to at least be somewhat better than what the US had demonstrated during Desert Storm. Especially as Russians are basically using small units (battalion tactical groups), which take an extra bit of effort to supply adequately, although to be fair, during the war’s initial stage there may have been issues to iron out due to the speed of advance on certain directions.

    Reply
    1. Lex

      The US had pretty significant logistical issues in Iraq 2, particularly fuel and maintenance of vehicles. And there was that time we had to hijack a food-for-oil ship because nobody planned on feeding the population behind American lines.

      Russian logistics must be at least passable, they are running a massive humanitarian operation and even reconstruction efforts parallel to the combat logistical requirements. And so far the biggest issue with the humanitarian operation seems to be overly zealous border patrol.

      Reply
      1. atp

        US war against civilian populations began as a means of conquest when, during the US Civil War Sherman with the approval of US Grant, burned what was left of Atlanta to the ground at the beginning of winter and from there burned and pillaged land and population for a 100 mile wide stretch of land to the sea when it was obvious that the war was almost over. After the war, Grant then authorized Sherman and other Northern generals to wage war on the Native American populations in the West and finally restricting them to reservations in order to make the land westward available to the commerce in the new age of the railroad. Then, of course, there is the history of bombing the civilan populations of Dresden, Hamburg, etc. at the end of WW2.

        Reply
  6. RabidGandhi

    Yesterday my brother beat me at tennis 6-0, 6-2, 6-0. Halfway through the third set I told him that he was doing his footwork all wrong and that he needs to extend his elbow more on his serve. Sure made me feel a lot better about losing.

    Reply
  7. Tom Stone

    The difference in design philosophy between the USA and Russia is being very clearly demonstrated in Ukraine.
    Russia asks :
    1) Does this system do what we need it to do at an affordable cost?
    “Cost” is determined in a broad sense, what resources of all kinds will the system require?
    2) Is the system sufficiently robust?

    The USA asks : “How will this system affect Raytheon’s share price?
    The biggest shortage at the start of any war is a shortage of trained personnell and that is not something that can be quickly remedied.
    Contrast the number of highly skilled man hours needed to keep an F35 in the air for one hour with the number of highly skilled man hours it takes to keep a front line Russian fighter in the air for one hour…
    Urk.

    Reply
  8. upstater

    Back in the early days of the US invasion and later surge in Afghanistan, I recall reading substantial amounts of war material was moved from Baltic ports to Uzbekistan by rail. Obviously simpler and safer than hauling equipment by trucks through Pakistan and the Khyber pass, and far cheaper and practical than C-17s:

    https://www.cnn.com/2011/11/29/world/asia/afghanistan-military-railroad/index.html

    During the US build-up to pre-position in Poland and the Baltics, I recall reading multiple trains of equipment were shipped by rail, totalling 15 kilometers in length! That represents a huge number of tanks, weapons and ammunition. Locally, the army routinely ships equipment by rail, sometimes entire trainloads to/from Ft. Drum.

    The information landscape is worse than terrible…

    Reply
    1. Robert Gray

      > …multiple trains of equipment were shipped by rail, totalling 15 kilometers in length!

      heh heh

      Imagine being in your car at a level-crossing, waiting for that motherbear to go past. :-)

      Reply
    2. Adam1

      LOL! Top it off if you zoom in on google maps you’ll find Fort Drum’s “logistics services” is also adjacent to it’s rail yard, not it’s airfield.

      Reply
    3. johnnyme

      Here in Minneapolis, at the height of the unrest sparked by the murder of George Floyd two summers ago, I saw two long trains of Minnesota National Guard equipment (predominantly trucks and humvees, thankfully no tanks).

      Reply
  9. Edward Jones

    Pretty weak, All the US artillery were sent with trucks because they are towed. They can easily be placed on flat beds and moved by rail. The reason Russia is using their rail is because we are not bombing their rail lines. That is their advantage. Russia is attacking the Ukraine rail lines.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This is both a reading comprehension fail and Making Shit Up. The article clearly depicted Russia as inferior for relying on rail and its lead photo, which we reproduced, showed Russia moving tanks by train. You say the US moves trucks by train. Sp? So how is this disputing the post? You effectively support it but still act as if the post is wrong? BTW this was a front page, above the fold WSJ story. So why don’t you whine at them and not us?

      Second, “we” are not bombing much of anything. Russia has had air superiority from early on and air supremacy for the last few weeks. Russia took out Ukraine’s radar the first day of combat and then went after airfields. It took out a lot of its fixed wing aircraft early on. You can bomb from helicopters, but the only incident I read about is when Ukraine attacked a refinery in Russia just across the Ukraine border.

      And has indicated, Russia is not taking out “rail lines” but effective capacity via blowing out the transformers. Or did you miss that the Kramatorsk rail shelling was done by Ukraine as a false flag attack? An Italian newspaper mistakenly showed a photo of the shell and it had a Ukraine serial number (plus Russia had used up all of that type of shell a while back).

      Better trolls, please.

      Reply
      1. Tor User

        From time to time the Russians are striking the rails directly, mostly at bridges. For example on April 27 they struck a rail and road bridge across the Dniester Estuary that links the southern port city of Odesa with the country’s far southwest region. A few days later a railway bridge was blown up near the town of Sloviansk in the eastern Donetsk region. There are others but in the main it is as you say, hitting the other parts of the rail infrastructure.

        A reason for this is that the Russians know they can pull trains with things other than electric (or even diesel) locomotives once they advance far enough. For example, their version of the Humvee, with a little modification can pull a rail car or two. Once started, stopping that mass is the thing though.

        I see that the Russians have almost entirely taken Sievierodonetsk, but not by encirclement, more by straight ahead grinding the Ukrainians down.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The claim I was responding to was broader, that Russia was seeking to destroy rail lines, which to me implies a large section of a railroad, as opposed to some critical choke points, such as bridges. Note that the Odessa bridge is a key road and rail connection.

          Some of the hits on bridges have been disputed. Alexander Mercouris reported yesterday or today that one attributed to Russia in Donbass (don’t recall if it was the one you were referring in to or one near Sievierodonetsk) was actually the doing of Ukraine.

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      2. Greg

        Not disagreeing with your main point of that reply.

        The evidence either way for Kramatorsk is not as clear as that, unfortunately. There is plenty of evidence in recent weeks at least that the separatist forces are using captured Tochka-U cruise missiles (two of which hit Kramatorsk), so they’re flying both ways.

        Still, the preponderance (in my estimate) is on false flag, because there’s no tactical or strategic purpose to the attack. Unless someone shows up with evidence that weapons were moving through the rail station, but that should have popped by now and it hasn’t. Instead we got lots of civilians, which is similar to other Ukrainian psyops playing to western media.

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        1. Yves Smith Post author

          There was other evidence, which I am calling out from memory, but that particular missile type was indeed not in the Russian forces inventory (the discussion was of particularly types of Tochka-U missiles and some sources gave the numbers each side possessed). And the big tell is that after the initial debunking, coverage of that story stopped completely. The press went dead silent.

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          1. Greg

            The silence afterwards does speak to a psyops explanation of events.

            I read the same stories based on russian inventories and not using the Tochka-U (or versions of) at the time. Since then I’ve seen more about just how much Ukrainian kit is being captured and passed to the separatists, and that includes Tochka-U launchers and missiles.

            I’ve seen convincing evidence of successful use of Tochka-U’s against Ukrainian positions. (Apologies for not including a link, it was a while ago and on a computer not where i am today).
            It’s *conceivable* that this was happening early enough for a separatist (mis)firing at Kramatorsk. Balance of probability is still on Ukrainian action.

            Similar to other odd events blown up in the western media, this is in my list of “probably Ukrainian action, won’t know if ever until a decade from now at the earliest”. The fog is a pea souper.

            Reply
            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Again, the more nerdy version of the argument was not about Tochka-U’s generally but that particular missile type.

              And the charge in the media was not that separatists fired the shots. If you read the MSM press stories at the time, they all pin responsibility on Russian Federation forces.

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  10. KD

    There has been a lot of discussion of US/NATO in all of this SMO, and Martyanov has dismissed rumors of a general mobilization in Russia:

    https://smoothiex12.blogspot.com/2022/06/it-is-becoming-nausaiting-repetitive.html

    But it appears China has authorized its troops to participate in “Special Military Operations”:

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/15/tensions-heighten-in-taiwan-strait-as-china-acts-to-extend-military-operations

    And they drew a red line in the South China Sea:

    https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202206/1267817.shtml

    Would it be surprising if the Russians and the Chinese came out in a month or two with a joint alliance and China announced a SMO to liberate Taiwan, and Russia announced a general mobilization and expanded the scope of their SMO.

    Finland and Sweden are vulnerable, and the Baltics are indefensible with conventional means, and the Russians did request that NATO withdraw to 1997 lines?

    If China supports Russia militarily or makes a move on Taiwan, the West is sure to cut off semiconductor sales. If they move on Taiwan, its likely it will just destroy world semiconductor production, and so everyone is screwed, and not just China. Plus with Russia and Ukraine for grain and petro, it makes their vulnerability at sea much more attenuated.

    We might get to see how those aircraft carriers do against hypersonic missiles.

    I raise this because I don’t see any discussion, but it does not seem far fetched at this time. Fortunately, with Biden, Kamala Harris, Blinken, and Sullivan in charge, America is sure to prevail.

    Reply
  11. camelotkidd

    The gross malpractice of western intellectuals is stunning

    Petr Akopov: “Why George Soros and Francis Fukuyama are ‘Putin’s useful idiots’”

    Fukuyama should already slink away in shame for being so wrong about the end of history but here he is pontificating at the start ofd Russia’s special military operation–“I think all of us have an interest in supporting [Kiev’s fight] because the broader liberal democratic order is really what’s at stake in this current war. It’s not a war just about this country, Ukraine. It’s really the attempt to roll back the entire expansion of the realm of liberal democracy that took place after 1991 and the collapse of the former Soviet Union.”
    And now in June this is how the good professor views the situation–“Yes. This new order is taking shape. It is the result of several years of struggle by the Western democratic camp against authoritarian regimes, mainly against Russia and China. This war is the culmination of this process. Russia is heading for a rout. It has already suffered a series of battlefield defeats, and now it is about to be driven out of Donbass by the Ukrainian Army. This is a real disaster for Putin. He turns out to be just a shoddy leader. And not just as a warlord: It’s also a complete political debacle.”
    What’s sad is that Fukuyama remains for the West an authority and thinker with answers to important questions. This means the blind are leading the blind. Furthermore, he and George Soros, and other 1990s gurus of globalization are still viewed as experts by the people who shape the agenda for the West.
    For Russia, having idiots who are blinded by ideology, is a blessing. What’s that old Sun Tzu chestnut about knowing your enemy?
    Martyanov makes the obvious point–“you cannot explain to an idiot that he is an idiot because he is an idiot”

    Reply
  12. Louis Fyne

    A fact lost upon many western pundits (and hammered upon constantly by Martyanov) is that Russia fought three existential wars on its homeland in the past 210 years. The Russian military does things its own way for a reason.

    The West’s hubris dismisses Russia at the West’s own peril

    Reply
    1. Polar Socialist

      Russia actually has the most extensive transport network in the whole world. And yet it’s road density is somewhere next to Nepal. It’s a frigging huge country.

      And if there’s a road to where you have to go, twice a year that unpaved road turns into a quagmire – know as rasputitsa. So military logistics for most part are first by train, then by 6×6 or 8×8 trucks. When the truck gets stuck, the load better be in small pallets, so you can unload and unstuck the truck with the crew available.

      They also do have a dozen Military Road Construction Brigades and several higher education institutes dedicated to the art of military transportation. Founded in 1724 by Peter I. Russia indeed has a long history of strategical and tactical road/railroad construction.

      Reply
      1. Greg

        This is a very important point, regarding what happens when the logistics inevitably breaks down in the field. Forklift dependent trucks sit at the roadside being bait for passing aircraft, tying up the crew and breaking the convoy until a repair crew can be brought up.
        Or a repair crew goes with every convoy, adding unnecessary cost and complexity. Or you just abandon the truck and it empties itself magically before anyone friendly gets there to tow it, as happened frequently in Iraq and Afghanistan.

        Reply
  13. Dave in Austin

    A few comments:

    The photo shows the Russian railroads have deep gravel beds and concrete railroad ties (called sleepers) which don’t rot or heave when the ground is frozen. Standard stuff, the same as the main lines in the Ukraine pictured during the civilian evacuations and on all US mainlines. Read “Railroads Triumphant” by Martin for the US history.

    Both the Russians and Ukrainians use Russian gauge trains not what the map calls “standard gauge”, so Polish and German engines and freight cars can’t operate on Ukrainian tracks to replace war wastage.

    The US is casualty-averse. Now low-birth-rate Russia and the Ukraine are too; mothers complain. The US develops hi-tech weapons as a way to increase the power of the individual soldier. These weapons are expensive to develop and build so we produce few of them before moving on to the next generation.

    This is THE limiting factor in supplying the Ukraine. We have already supplied them with all the leftover Soviet weapons found in eastern Europe when the USSR left. But the ammo supply and spare parts are limited. Supplying them with more modern weapons produced in the US or Europe means depleting the inventory and our ability to fight or supply a war elsewhere- like over Taiwan. And our production lines are very low capacity and gearing-up for wartime production levels will take two years. So we can’t give the Ukraine the 1,000 artillery pieces and unlimited ammo it wants because we don’t have the stuff to give.

    In one sense this is 1941 all over again; the US mobilization was beginning and we could either send weapons to Great Britain and Russia, who were fighting, or to Manila to threaten the Japanese. We choose Europe.

    Delivering anything to the front raises two issues. First, what is the most efficient and cheap way to send a huge volume long distance… usually ship and train. Both need fixed infastructure which is easy to damage. Then, near the front, you need flexible, low-tech “last mile” delivery systems. The US uses trucks. In WWII we gave one-half a million to the USSR and that made the huge Russian advances of 1944-5 possible because the railroad infrastructure had been destroyed. In WWII France, the US used trucks at first but rapidly fixed the railroads (and put in a huge web of pipelines right across the channel from England). Plus we capture the port of Antwerp intact. The Vietnamese used trucks and bikes with 300 lbs of supplies across the multiplicity of rutted, bombed trails in Laos (a trick they learned when the Viets were the drivers on the web of nightmare roads supplying Verdun in 1916-17). Traffic snarls, limited supplies and wasted effort are the cost of business when you are advancing across new ground- think Covid vaccine development.

    Reply
    1. Bart Hansen

      I too noticed the RR ties. Much of Europe uses concrete.

      There are videos on YT showing how U.S. RRs replace the wooden ties all with one big unit. Fascinating, but it moves very slowly and will need to be re-done periodically.

      There are also videos showing China creating RRs; so fast the workers moving along with it need to move fast to keep up. Some of the Chinese rail beds are hundreds of feet above the surrounding area.

      Reply
    2. Greg S

      It appears to me from the picture that the ties, in addition to being concrete also seem to be placed closer together than RR ties here in the US. That would seem to me to allow heavier loads to pass on the rails.

      Reply
  14. Nels Nelson

    That is some beautiful track. It appears they are using high speed aerodynamic sleepers. The usual square ties or sleepers the rails rest on can generate a lot of turbulence as a high speed train travels over them which will pick up loose ballast and throw it around. Don’t think you’ll find freight railroad track like that in the US.

    Reply
  15. The Rev Kev

    The Wall Street Journal may mock Russia relying on technology developed during the 19th century but I don’t seem to recall them having chaos in their ports with containers last year. You would think that with all the technology that we have, we could tell the position of every container, the flow patterns and any arising problems but it still ended in a mess. I’ve worked in rail and they take massive amounts of cargo in an efficient way with few points of failure. If it works, who cares how it is done? If the Russians depended on supplying their army through road traffic, would the Wall Street Journal have mocked them for using Roman technology?

    Reply
    1. jrkrideau

      Automobiles first appeared, IIRC, in the 1880’s and I am pretty sure gasoline powered delivery trucks were in existence if not common in the 1900’s. Seems like a pretty antiquated technology to me.

      The author may not be aware of high-speed rail networks especially in China that make cars and highways pretty primitive for the long distanc transport of people. I don’t know if high-speed rail is making serious inroads in freight shipping.

      That is some lovely track.

      Reply
  16. Boomheist

    I have been watching films about the siege of Stalingrad, and the Russian response. The Germans invaded in the summer, moved lightning fast, kept extending their supply lines, were convinced it would be a cakewalk, and it was, until it wasn’t. The German approach, blitzkrieg, used in Europe and Russia, works extremely well facing unprepared troops, or troops locked into fortifications the blitzkrieging army can maneuver around, but does not work against artillery, massed troops, and armies willing to dig in and fight and continue to fight. In the films about WW2, Stalingrad, Leningrad, Moscow, the Russians use artillery, fight house to house, and never stop. Winter is always their friend. So is ability to suffer. It is in their genes. There are uncanny similarities between what those 75 year old films show and what You Tubes from Ukraine are showing now – reliance on massive artillery, slow patient movement, surrounding the enemy until the enemy must quit. It is the Russian way, it seems, based on over 200 years of facing invasions. Imagine, 200 years. Actually, more than 200 years – nearly as long as the United States has been a nation.

    Maybe the objective is to “drain” Russia but at the same time surely some people in the US Military and government see that the longer this goes on, the more dire the result for the West and NATO. By the end of 2022 it will be winter in Ukraine, cold, and at the same time the gas will be shut off in Europe, not to mention the chaos likely here in the US after months of inflation, continuing and increasing materials shortages, and an enraged electorate.

    There is an irony here, I think. There is no question the U.S. and NATO provoked Russia to move into Donbass, wishing to make Ukraine part of NATO, and in the short run this Russian SMO seems to have aligned and strengthened the NATO partnership, even brought in Finland and Sweden. Hooray, we are winning! But at the same time Russia is showing each and every day its strength in its isolation, its autarky. Russia has energy, land for food, a strong scientific sector, and does not really depend on anywhere else for manufacturing or support. As the days go by, NATO and the US will weaken, and Russia strengthen, by being the “last person standing.” Even China, supposedly the power that is rising, is not in as strong a position, for China needs energy and oil and China depends on foreign markets for economic strength, and those markets, US and Europe, are shutting down.

    As regards the military, if you look at the last 70 years of wars, again and again the modern, fast, complex military systems have stumbled when encountering simple, committed, RESIDENT opponents. Russia stumbled in Afghanistan and so did the US. The US “won” Iraq, but did it? In Vietnam the largest military in the world could not defeat a nation which supplied its army with soldier-carried packs walked down the Ho Chi Min trail. So here in Ukraine, right next to or in mother Russia, the Russian Federation soldiers are fighting for their home, their land, their national myth, soldiers raised from eight, ten, twelve generations – generations! – of families who have fought the same battles again and again.

    I believe Putin’s original goal was simply as he stated – no Ukraine NATO, protect the Donbass and ethnic Russians, keep Crimea – and I continue to hope he will declare victory and stop fairly soon, though the West keeps provoking him. But, having expended all of NATO’s shells in this battle by sending them to Ukraine, it would be no surprise to see Russia simply keep moving west into other Baltic states because NATO won’t have the supplies and material to fight back.

    I believe an argument might be made here that sees this Ukraine fiasco ending with NATO and the US critically weakened, China exposed for lack of markets, and Russia – Russia! – standing as the new major power in Eurasia. Whether or not this was Putin’s end game, this seems to be a possibility now.

    Reply
    1. FormerTinfoilFan

      Russia stumbled in Afghanistan

      By the end of the involvement, USSR controlled everything they had planned on controlling inside Afghanistan. What they chose not to control was the rest of the world’s aid to the mujahiddin sent via Pakistan. For political reasons, not for military ones, it was decided to leave Pakistan alone. Afghan war was yet another one where Russia/USSR was against the rest of the world (including China, btw), which brings us to the next point:

      It is the Russian way, it seems, based on over 200 years of facing invasions. Imagine, 200 years. Actually, more than 200 years – nearly as long as the United States has been a nation

      There is a saying in Russia: “Every 100 years or so, united European forces try to democratize Russia”. We are talking about at least 1,000 years, not 200. Cf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_on_the_Ice

      Reply
      1. Boomheist

        Good points. My sense here is that in the end history may see all this as a brilliant move by Russia, mainly because of all nations Russia is most self-sufficient (at least among the great powers) and as such in an extremely powerful position. I think I can argue that Putin’s goal all along has been the dislodge the dollar from resource-purchase power, and this has been his alliance with China, but I think it is a huge mistake to simply assume China is driving this train, or is most powerful. Russia actually seems the most powerful, and now the West is slowly realizing it. So may be China. The worse econmic conditions become in the West, the better for Russia.

        As regards 1,000 years, not 200, of course. You are correct. Some times I wonder if the rabid Russiaphobe views in Europe and the West are actually an ancestral memory from the Mongol hordes raiding Europe also 1,000 years ago…..

        Reply
  17. hk

    My sense is that USMC has been using M777 because they are readily helicopter transportable off ships…but Ukrainians are not exactly capable of using fleets of transport helicopters to air drop towed guns now. Another example of wrong kind of weapons being handed off

    Reply
  18. Mr. Wizard

    Re: footnote and radio waves. From an electromagnetic wave’s perspective, the modern battle space has a max radius of 300 nautical miles (555 km). Curvature of the earth, wavelength, etc. Prior to the conflict, Russia was equipping their divisions with hundreds of Azaert 6-gen digital encrypted radios for thousands of soldiers. Which means command node to tactical node: 6-gen and mostly 5-gen. Tactical node to tactical node: analog radios.

    6-gen operates at extreme high frequencies and limited battery life which limits range. Think FM radio stations compared to analog’s AM stations. Throw in indiscriminate jamming, the destruction of Ukrainian microwave relays, the tendency for units to drift out of radio contact, and the urgency for fire and logistic support authorized hundreds of miles away to coordinate, tactical unit to tactical unit… even landlines start to seem like the best option.

    Nobody’s saying Russia isn’t pounding the hell out of the Ukrainians, but to what end? Ukraine had eight long years of war to both cohere and radicalize. They aren’t going to leave and they aren’t going to love Russia after this. That leaves terror as the only option, which is highly corrosive to the Russian soldier’s psyche. Russians start to not love Russia.

    Reply
    1. juno mas

      Wait a minute… Ukraine/NATO may have spent 8 years pounding Donetsk, and the US State Dept. selected their preferred coup candidate, and a comedian/actor selected as President for the “new liberal democracy” that was controlled by the Right Sector and millions have left the country…and you think terror is the best option? And Russian soldiers, watching Ukraine army leaving there dead and wounded on the battlefield, are going to hate THEIR country?! Interesting logic.

      Reply
  19. David

    It’s worth remembering that during the Cold War, the Russian military had complete control of the defence sector. As long as they obeyed the Party line, they essentially developed and produced the equipment they wanted, with access to the best of the civilian scientific and engineering talent. This domination had many weaknesses (complete lack of concern for the environment, rigid and stereotyped ways of thinking etc. etc.) but it had the practical advantage that the military were able to have exactly what they wanted, effectively in the quantities they wanted it in. (What is this “price” of which you speak, capitalist?”) They also produced equipment which was designed and optimised for war. Western equipment procurement, on the other hand, was subject to a whole variety of different pressures: industrial, commercial, political, financial, international as well as military, and was in practice often optimised for peacetime. Whilst things have changed in Russia, I suspect the tradition of designing what’s sometimes called “soldier-proof” equipment, rugged and optimised for battle, probably remains.

    Reply
    1. Polar Socialist

      I’ve been reading lately quite a lot about Soviet tank production from T-62 to T-90, and the picture I get is not quite similar. There was often a lot of tension, fighting and even grudges between the armed forces, design bureaus, factories and politicians.

      For example, when installing a gas turbine into T-64 (trying to solve the unreliability issues – hah!) only to observe it being shaken to pieces, the Kirov Factory design team in Leningrad refused to collaborate with Uralvagonzavod design team to copy the superb T-72 suspension, but came up with their own.

      Only for the army chief responsible for tank production to reject this new T-80 because the gas turbine was twice as thirsty as the T-64 diesel engine. Brezhnev’s closest ally in politburo was a representative of Leningrad and strongly pushing for the approval, so eventually the army was burdened with the tank.

      It must be said, though, that Soviet industry was usually very quick to make improvements suggested by the military – often based on experiences in a real war.

      Reply
      1. David

        Fair point, I should have included the nuance about competition between design bureaus, especially over high-profile systems. I was thinking mostly at a more mundane level. It remains true, though, I think, that western military procurement is subject to far more competing political and economic tensions than the old Soviet system was, and I suspect the Russian system still largely is. It’s worth recalling that the Russian MoD isn’t really a “Ministry” in the sense that we have them in the West, and it’s almost always been headed by a serving military officer. It’s more a General Staff with a few bits added on, and has the strengths and the weaknesses of all such systems. In procurement issues, it does give the military an extremely strong voice.

        Reply
        1. Polar Socialist

          Yes, we’re in agreement there. I’ve seen a rather convincing argument that the Russian Empire was quite slow to industrialize mainly because the state wanted to hold the ropes in case it needed to raise an army on a short notice.

          There was a short period (known as “the 90s”) when the Russian military industrial complex was left to survive on it’s own (some did, some didn’t), but in the last two decades they have indeed consolidated most of it back to the government as a one huge corporation. Mig and Sukhoi may actually be collaborating nowadays, who knows.

          Reply
          1. GM

            In addition to their weapons being designed with actually working well in mind, an overlooked aspect of the situation is that the Russian MIC has for a long time had to properly compete for contracts on the world market.

            I am no fan of “free market” ideology, but fair competition is undeniably a god thing, and Russian arms exports have had to compete in something approaching such conditions.

            Especially in the first two decades after the USSR collapse the military budget was so austere that the MIC was getting a huge part of its revenue through exports.

            Meanwhile in the US the key players in the MIC consolidated in the 1990s and competition largely went away. On top of that they fully captured the government. So now it’s guaranteed fat contracts for a product that does not need to actually work well. And then that product gets imposed on all the “allies” of the US, through the colonial system that is NATO and the other security “partnerships”. So again, no competition on quality, guaranteed captured market.

            That extended to the civilian sector too — it how Boeing lost the ability to make civilian planes that don’t randomly crash out of the sky precisely because of the corrosive influence of the MIC has been extensively discussed.

            This situation actually goes way back though, even in Stalin’s time the principle was to generally have two construction bureaus working in the same area. So the Soviets were much more keen on “competition” than the capitalists — the capitalists strived to eliminate it through monopolization, the Soviets were trying to create it deliberately. But after the USSR collapsed some of those bureaus were left out of the country in Ukraine and Belarus, while the rest couldn’t be supported economically all at the same time. So now the aviation industry is consolidated. We will see if that will have the same degenerative effect as it did in the West. The external market is what may save it from those tendencies.

            Reply
            1. RobertC

              Meanwhile in the US the key players in the MIC consolidated in the 1990s and competition largely went away.

              That would be Defense Secretary William Perry’s “last supper” Former SecDef Perry: Defense Industry Consolidation Has Turned Out Badly

              Secretary Perry was also responsible for defense acquisition reform represented by rewriting DOD 5000.1 but more so by eliminating the automatic citation in contracts the plethora of standards, specifications and regulations accreted over decades.

              This was a difficult transition on both sides of the contractual relationship. I often had industry telling me “But we don’t know what to do without them.” However, the circumstances creating the accretion asserted themselves and the old ways came back.

              Except today’s acquisition processes have become much more complex an example being DOD 5000.87. I cannot imagine a government employee trained at DSMC and NDU in these esoteric regulations not being snapped up by industry at much higher salaries leading to an unfavorable knowledge position on the government side. With the result “On top of that they fully captured the government.

              As a (retired) navalist I watch the US Navy’s failed and failing response to China’s three-fleet challenge and it’s quite depressing although from a humankind perspective it’s probably for the best.

              Reply
  20. Jack

    I can’t comment so much on the rail subject matter but I can from experience on the logistics of moving supplies. I was a Navy Supply Officer years ago and many times we used manpower vs. machinery to load and unload trucks. Forklift not handy? Muster the crew and get to it. Its amazing how quickly a dozen men or more can empty a truck when the material is sized for one man to handle.

    Reply
  21. Raymond Sim

    A point I haven’t noticed others making: Troops are multipurpose, forklifts less so. A troop can load stuff, unload stuff, carry it forward, and use it to kill people.

    This is actually a bigger deal than one might think. I rarely see it discussed, but with the advent of railroads and telegraphs ‘breakthrough’ became almost impossible to acheive against a competent modern opponent, because defenders could bring resources to bear in counterattack much more rapidly than attackers could move them through a breach, which even under ideal conditions tended to clog up with attackers. One way the Red Army addressed this was to put frontlne resupply tasks into the hands of fighting troops, who could go over to the attack once they dropped off the goods.

    Reply
  22. Susan the other

    This is all as embarrassing as it is fascinating and satisfying – finally. I hate military/war PR and PR turned into history. It is more offensive than the killing. It illuminates how we embrace our own disgraceful insanity. But if this is a trend – the internet facilitating people like Dreizen and Ritter and of course the rare blog like NC (can’t name another one) – then we are in for a treat. It’s 21st century vaudeville – because it won’t be long before everyone knows it’s all comedy. It turns calling bullshit into a precise art form. How does the great, invincible Military Industrial Complex recover from this expose? It doesn’t.

    Reply
  23. scott s.

    Dreisin: “The US Army does not have any towed artillery at this time whatsoever”

    Hmm.. That’s strange. I live next to Schofield Barracks in HI and I don’t think 25th DIVARTY got the word. When I go past 3-7 FA it sure looks like towed M777 Howitzers to me. Now IIRC at one point I think they got rid of the 155s and just had 105s but when they re-established DIVARTY I think at the same time they beefed up the TOE.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I don’t have a way to e-mail Dreizin but I did put your comment as a query on his post. The thread has gone stale so I may not get a reply. If I do, I’ll tell you what he says.

      Reply
  24. c_heale

    This war is a threat to the existence of Russia. They have nuclear weapons and a conventional army. The USA has only won economic wars in the last 40 years. But it hasn’t been able to defeat Russia economically so far – and there is no reason to believe it can do so. I believe the maximum the USA can achieve is a pyrrhic victory, and even that would require a direct invasion of Western troops, an exchange of nuclear weapons, and a war with China imo. Although I don’t like American nativism, it’s far better for other countries than American/Western liberalism.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      How about American Seclusionism, if somebody articulated it. Could you like that?

      How about American Okayness Ordinarianism? As in ” I am an American Okayness Ordinarian.”

      Reply
  25. drumlin woodchuckles

    Since I haven’t read all the comments, I will take a chance that no one else has beat me to it regarding . . .
    what gives the railroad trackage away in the photograph as being 21st century ready?

    I will say, the concrete railroad ties. Like these . . .
    https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=AwrJ6ytn9K9iO8cAo19XNyoA;_ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzEEdnRpZAMEc2VjA3Nj?p=concrete+railroad+ties+image&fr=sfp

    I don’t know if concrete is better than certain kinds of very strong flexelastic wood, but if we want to leave the trees alone to eat up the skycarbon, I guess concrete ties is how we roll.

    Reply

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