Mark Hertling Profile picture
Apr 6 18 tweets 5 min read
What's going on now in eastern Ukraine? A new 🧵

Many reports suggest RU has shifted their next fight to the Donbas.

What can we expect to see in the coming days/weeks/months?

Here's a thread of my "guesses." 1/17
As most know, RU/RU-backed separatist & UKR forces have been fighting in parts of Donetsk & Luhansk Oblast since 2014.

Ukraine regards both Donetsk & Luhansk People's Republic (DPR & LPR) as terrorist organizations (do NOT call them "breakaway republics"). 2/ Image
The fighting is like many "frozen conflicts" RU has stoked in various European countries (Georgia, Moldova, Azerbaijan-Armenia) with their illegal actions.

Much of the line resembles WWI trenches. With intense sniping and shelling since 2014. Thousands killed 3/ Image
By reinforcing these lines, and the 2 shoulders in the N & S, RU hopes to conduct frontal attacks in the Donbas while attempting to surround URK's forces from N & S.

They'll have trouble executing this plan.

But how will the frontal attacks look? 4/ Image
Well, there's already reports of RU attacks last night from within Donetsk.

Reports say RU attempted a "breakthrough" (we'll come back to that word) near Razdolnoye, with a purpose of reaching the Donetsk-Zaporizhia hiway near Bogatyr. (more to that in a minute, too). 5/
I'd say this action REALLY was is a Reconnaissance‐in‐force (RIF).

A RIF is designed to find the enemy’s strength, weakness, dispositions & test their reactions, according to our doctrine (ADRP 3‐90).

See example... 6/ Image
If the RU RIF finds a weak spot, they push through (as shown). If they find strength in UKRs line, they should pull back.

Last night, the RU found UKR strength, but kept going instead of pulling back. UKR reports they engaged & destroyed this small RU tactical attack. 7/
Had the RU RIF found a hole, it would have provided RU with intelligence about what they're facing in the UA. They would've then planned to push other forces through the hole, while holding in other places along the front.

In doctrine, this is called a "Breakthrough." 8/
When RU finds a weak spot, their doctrine in to use LOTS of artillery to make the weak spot bigger and then send lots of fast moving forces (that is, tanks) through.

Holding the "shoulders" with other forces.

The Germans did this in WWII as part of their blitzkrieg doctrine. 9/ Image
My belief, because of what I've seen, is RU hasn't trained or practiced these kinds of maneuvers.

Based on what we've seen, the RU "maneuver" capability, skill of their force, C2 & log support are all extremely weak.

And, they haven't tried this in the Donbas in 8 years. 10/
A bunch of RU generals have been writing about this technique over the last few years.

Here's an interesting piece:…

Problem: writing about and doing are two different things. 11/
Also, I'm convinced RU will NOT be able to get the same forces they used in the Kyiv and Kharkiv offensives back into the fight anytime soon, no matter what others say.

Those forces are depleted. Mauled.

Some may fight, but they likely won't be effective. 12/
BTW, before we leave breakthrough, Brusilov & his followers say RU must use massive artillery on enemy positions OR use *battlefield tactical nuclear weapons* to create a breakthrough when gaps are found by the RIF.

Again, theoretical...but that scares the crap out of me. 13/
So, how does UKR counter these offensive actions?

1. be strong everywhere (tough to do)
2. have a good reserve (possible, but also tough)
3. be able to move quickly to counter any attacks.

"Interior lines" I discussed in another thread helps w/ 2 & 3, because of distance 14/ Image
But, UKR must also find ways to be more mobile for this new phase.

First, they'll need very good intelligence about where RU forces are moving.

Then, tanks they've "acquired" from RU and those provided by NATO nations will help. 15/
UA will continue to rely on technological advanced weapons to close any gaps on the front line, and focus on defeating RU's artillery.

They will use territorials and UA to thwart RU advances from the N & S "shoulders" of the Donbas, to ensure no encirclement. 16/
UKR must defend their own supply line, interfere with RU C2, logistics, and movement...

...while also conducting other unconventional operations behind RU front lines.
This 🧵 is about the "front line" tactical fights in the Donbas.

UKR must still deal with civilian assistance, cataloguing war crimes, fighting RU assaults in Crimea, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv, etc everywhere else.

Donbas will be a battle of attrition.

UKR is prepared for it.17/17

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More from @MarkHertling

Apr 4
The National Security Advisor @jakejsullivan just briefed what might happen next.

His brief fits well into my desire to provide a 🧵 on what both sides face in the next weeks/months.

Key topics: what we'll see, regeneration, & the battle of attrition that is coming 1/22
The NSA said RU wants to refocus on Donbas...the east of UKR where there's been fighting since 2014.

That seems likely, but there's more to it. I don't expect a RU "frontal assault" into Donetsk & Lahansk, but rather an envelopment from N & S.

And...perhaps more. 2/
RU's original strategic objectives were to destroy UKR army/subjugate the population.

They will NOT give up territorial gains they've made in the N...the road from Kharkiv to Izyum

There is still the desire to control Donbas & they also want the Azov & Black Sea coasts. 3/
Read 22 tweets
Apr 2
During this war, there's been calls for the US to give UKR more _____________ (fill in the blank with M1 Abrams tanks, Patriot Missile Systems, F16s, A10s, etc).

Those calls often come from politicians, reporters, or those with little knowledge of weapons.

A 🧵 to discuss. 1/23
I'm all for giving UKR the systems they need (and want), if those help the war effort.

But there are many factors that go into the decision to provide arms beyond "this would be a game changer!"

When giving or selling arms to other nations, there are considerations: 2/
1. Can the Army operate the system now (level of competence of the operator) and if not how much training would be needed?
2. Can the Army support the system (an assessment of logistics requirement, e.g., parts and fuel), and is there the ability to repair/sustain? 3/
Read 23 tweets
Apr 2
Ukraine's strike of the fuel depot at Belgorod was MUCH more than a bold tactical move.

While 1.5 M gallons of fuel is certainly a critical target & will be significant in this logistics war...there's more.

This is what's called a "deep strike" in US military parlance. 1/6
A deep strike is meant to cause physical damage to the enemy, but it's also designed to cause increased fear, a feeling that no where is safe, & it sends the message " we will come after you everywhere, especially when you're not expecting it." 2/
The Russians believed Belorus and RU territory were safe havens. They're now less confident of that.

The RUs believed they could return to bases in Belarus - to the motor pools they once occupied - and reconsolidate and they would be untouched. No more. 3/
Read 6 tweets
Apr 1
In the last 3 days, I've heard a US Senator, a cable news analyst, & a reporter all say we're seeing the "end of tank warfare," the battlefield of the future "will have nothing but robotic vehicles," "drones are now the king."

This is a picture of a "Minié ball".... 1/6
I found it on the battlefield at Gettysburg in the summer of 2005 next to Gen Buford's statue on McPherson's Ridge.

I carried it in my uniform pocket when I was a soldier & now it sits on my desk. It's a reminder of how warfare evolves, challenges occur & then are solved. 2/
In looking at it, you might think the Minié ball looks sorta like a normal bullet.

But when it was introduced in the Crimea War,(then when used extensively in the American Civil War), soldiers & generals didn't know how to deal with it!

Revolutionary! 3/
Read 6 tweets
Mar 31
Today, I saw General Tod Wolters, the European Command (EUCOM) Commander, respond to a Senator's question about how we missed things in this war.

GEN Wolters admitted the US missed some intel indicators...then said his command would be analyzing what they could do better. 1/9
He didn't say "intel is broken."

He said EUCOM would look at ways to improve assessments of forces, enemy & friend. 

Ways to determine assessments that include both enemy resources & "will."

The latter is tough for intel folks. 2/
Clausewitz said this in his classic work "On War"

"Many intelligence reports in war are contradictions, even more are false, and most are uncertain. What one can reasonably ask of any officer is that he should possess a standard of judgement... 3/
Read 9 tweets
Mar 28
A new 🧵 on "what may be next."

In the military, headquarters have various staff sections.

Personnel is the "1," Intel is the "2," operations is "3," logistics is "4," signal (communication) is the "6." And there's more.

One staff member is the "5" who are the planners. 1/19
The S5, G5 or J5 ("S" is staff, "G" is general staff in a HQ commanded by a General, "J" is a joint staff with a General or Admiral where various branches - Army, Navy, Air Force, etc -are represented) is the staff section focused on plans & strategy. 2/
These folks help the commander look toward the future.

They answer: What's going to happen next, and how to we prepare for it?

They work their planning & offer it so the commander can shift their force.

Don't know if the RU have a "5," but I know UKR does. 3/
Read 19 tweets

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