Mark Hertling Profile picture
Apr 15 15 tweets 3 min read
Just now, @jaketapper on @ccn asked me about the strategic & operational importance of the Moskva sinking.

In my view, this is a very big deal for a variety of reasons.

Here's a new 🧵 1/14
First, many are still asking "was this a ship board accident (fire), or was this really a Neptune strike?"

DoD indicates the latter.

Having said that, this was MORE than a simple matter of a couple of missiles hitting a ship that was a great distance away. 2/
There will be an after-action review (AAR) on this strike, and someday we will learn what went into it.

But anytime a military unit conducts a strike as complex as this, there is MUCH more than just launching a couple of missiles that surround the event.

Let's leave it there.3/
But I would say that it is open-source reporting that Ukraine has had this ground-to-ship missile in experimentation for about 5 years.

Now I'm not a sailor, but it seems the Russians sure didn't incorporate that info into their naval maneuver planning.

Shame on them. 4/
Back to the question: Will this sinking be strategically important?

I'd say, emphatically: Yes, for a variety of reason!

First, this the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet. But this ship was also the flagship during the 2008 invasion in Georgia, and it's named for MOSCOW! 5/
This ship was tasked to provide overall Fleet C2 (command and control), Air Defense (it is filled with different ADA systems), and it would have discharged Naval Infantry (Marines) during a planned amphib assault on the shores near Odesa. 6/
As Putin revised his plan for "eastern & southern attacks" after failing to take Kyiv, the seizure of the Black Sea coast (& perhaps the continued attack toward Transnistria in Moldova) was likely part of the "new" plan.

It will be hard to execute that western assault now. 7/
But there's more...

Russia/Putin should NOT take this sinking as a singular event.

Let's add the Moskva sinking to other failures: 8/
-The destruction of the Russian Parachute Regiment (the famed "palace guard" VDV/Spetznaz) north of Kyiv during the first week of the war.
-The loss of at least 7 generals & an unlimited number of Colonel Commanders of key Combined Arms Armies and Tank/Motorized Rifle Units. 9/
-The increasing number of Russian soldiers (mostly conscripts) killed in action (Ukraines count is now 20,000...and that's likely conservative).
-The destruction of over 700 tanks and literally hundreds of other armored vehicles during the first 50 days 10/
-The inability of the Russian Air Force to provide close air support to Russian ground troops or deep strikes against Ukrainian forces due to fear of UA air defense
-Russians communicating using unencrypted devices that leads to intelligence leaks 11/
-Ukraine Army helicopters conducting a cross-border operations into Belgorod to destroy multiple fuel tanks
-UA special operations striking behind Russian lines against key logistics targets.
-RU failure to resupply/medically evacuate their troops 12/
Again, the strike against the Moskva was a big deal.

But combining it with other the Russian military failures, it should be difficult for Putin to explain to his citizens.

The advantages of being an authoritarian w/ a friendly RT news channel. 13/
I've learned never to underestimate my enemies, but it's going to be VERY hard for Russian General Dvornikov to turn this around. 14/14
Sorry, that should be @cnn. Didn’t catch that mistake.

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More from @MarkHertling

Apr 14
The last few days have seen continued intense fighting in key locations...but mostly a "reset" by both Ukrainian & Russian forces to prepare for the next "phase" of this campaign.

What is happening, and how is it going to develop?

Here are some thoughts in a new 🧵 1/19
What's happening now:

1) RU has new commander, GEN Aleksandr Dvornikov, "the butcher of Syria."
-Southern District Commander since 2016, typical RU infantry career, normal schools (Frunze & Voroshilov), experience in Grozny & the RU commander in Syria (2015) 2/
-He has combat experience in urban operations, uses arty & missiles to raze towns/scorch earth, little experience in Joint (Army-Navy-Air) operations or large scale (multi-axis) maneuver.
-Allegedly, Putin ordered him to "win" by 9 May for his "May Day Parade" in Moscow 3/
Read 19 tweets
Apr 6
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
Read 18 tweets
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

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