Mark Hertling Profile picture
May 18 16 tweets 5 min read
Want a 🧵 on artillery (arty)?

Just got off @cnn where I also commented on this clip from the good ole COL Khodaryonok (who seems to have changed his tune since yesterday).

He's talking about how RU artillery is hitting UKR's new M777 arty pieces.

Except, he's full of BS. 1/
I'm an old tanker, but I sometimes get to comment on the king of battle (artillery), because they are usually impressive.

This clip doesn't impress me. Here's why.

Watch the film COL Khordaryonok is commenting on a couple times, then come back. 2/
Okay, here's what's happening.

A UKR M777 is in a firing position, obviously getting set up for a shoot.

Gun is unlimbered (not being towed by it's truck), the truck is in the treeline, and there's a few soldiers walking around the vehicle.

Then, INCOMING! The round lands! 3/
Except, the round doesn't land ON the M777. It lands nearby.

W/ towed artillery, a round almost has to land ON the howitzer to destroy it. It doesn't. It may be slightly damaged, or maybe not.

Doesn't appear any UKR soldiers are hurt or wounded. Maybe, but maybe not. 4/
COL K keeps talking, but you see the M777 relimbers to the truck, and moves into the woods. (GOOD job, covered & concealed positons).

Then the clip shows a barrage of rounds, some hitting the woods, most hitting the dirt field.

No indication of any hits on UKR arty. 5/
Artillery dudes have an expression: "pounding dirt."

It can mean going to the firing range and practicing shooting, firing rounds against a mountainside.

It also means "we didn't hit sh#t (the target)."

RUs were pounding dirt.6/
That's not all bad because artillery is an "area fire weapon" in most cases.

That means "fire a bunch of rounds at an area in an attempt to damage, suppress or destroy equipment and kill solders who are congregated."

That's been the role of artillery thru the ages. 7/
In the past, artillery had to be good, but not necessarily precise.

Fire was called by forward observers (FOs) who would provide an estimated grid coordinate of the target and then adjust fire using their radio and binoculars. 8/
But with advanced technology, gun computers, lasers, drones, GPS and targeting systems, artillery has become much more precise.

Usually, you don't need an entire "barrage" that requires pinpoint adjustments from many guns to destroy targets.

There is now precise targeting. 9/
Rounds can be guided in using laser from FOs or aircraft, or even drones.

Some artillery rounds have GPS guidance, where the round is "fired" from the gun but then flies to the target.

The M777 is connected to a fire control computer that calculates wind, weather, data. 10/
One other thing, regarding this particular engagement.

Usually "self-propelled" (SP) guns are valuable to a maneuver force...they can keep up with the fast moving tanks, providing fire. That's what the RU have.

But self-propelled arty has cons as well.11/
SP guns:
1. Need a lot of logistics to keep the track running right. Every time the gun goes off, or the track runs over tough terrain, it rattles the vehicle.
2.SP guns are a bigger target. And crews of SP guns are on the inside. That makes for more casualties. 12/
3. If a round hits near an SP gun, it may not damage the gun, but it may damage/destroy the carrier. That usually doesn't happen with towed cannons.
4. The crew of a towed system is fewer, meaning less casualties. 13/
The M777 is perfect for UKR at this stage.

It's accurate, small crew, light logistics, quick, can hide easily, doesn't have propensity for as much damage. 14/
Bottom line is this:
-UKR can win the artillery fight.
-RU arty can cause a lot of damage when firing against civilian targets as that doesn't require precision.
-The M777 (part of the Stryker Brigade I commanded & the Division I led in combat) is one helluva great gun. 15/
...and COL Khodaryonok should go back to stating how bad RU is doing in this war, and not propagandizing the poor effects of RU artillery against Ukraine. 16/16

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More from @MarkHertling

May 20
GEN Eisenhower was given a very brief (two page) order for the Normandy invasion. His task:

"You will enter the continent of Europe and, in conjunction with the other united nations, undertake operations aimed at the heart of Germany & the destruction of her armed forces" 1/5
Brief & succinct strategic guidance to the leader of the greatest generation.

1. Undertake operations aimed at the heart of Germany.

2. Destroy her armed forces.

No appeasement, no "let Hitler have part of Poland," no face-saving for a dangerous megalomaniac. 2/
History didn't tell us there was "waning public support" for a righteous effort to help other nations regain their sovereignty.

The rest of the world & our nation were not being bombarded with "both-side" cable news opinions.

Values shaped our policy, & policy drove strategy.3/
Read 5 tweets
May 16
This thread on River Crossing Operations (RCOs) by my friend and colleague @WarintheFuture is excellent!

MG Ryan speaks eloquently to the doctrine & training requirements of something as difficult as an RCO.

That comes about due to a METL assessment!

What's that? A 🧵 1/
METL is a commander's prediction of what missions his/her unit will likely face in combat related to an anticipated mission.

After analyzing any mission, Commanders identify a "Mission Essential Task Lists" of MANY essential tasks they believe they must accomplish in combat. 2/
Now those tasks are dependent on
-the size/type of unit (Division, Brigade, armor, infantry, engineer, etc)
-the area where they think they may go
-what the terrain may be like
-how the enemy will fight
-most importantly, anticipated mission from a higher commander 3/
Read 18 tweets
May 13
On 2/24 -at the start of the conflict- I posted the attached thread with reasons why I thought Ukraine would win.

We’re now seeing RU transition to a “hasty defense” in many sectors, while regrouping for new offensive operations.

That portends some problems for RU. 1/12
In his classic “On War,” Clausewitz provides an entire chapter on “culmination.”

He implies there are various factors that cause an army to culminate -stop- their offense & revert to the defense.

Fatigue, will, force depletion, supplies, not reaching strategic goals, etc. 2/
An army may also transition to the offense from the defense if they have the strength & believe doing so will help achieve operational or strategic goals.

But to do that, the army must have a growing resource capability, will, momentum, & achievable strategic objectives. 3/
Read 13 tweets
May 9
What did Putin's "Victory Day" speech contain and what does it tell us?

There were some interesting take-aways, some good, some bad.

Here's what I saw in the film and the reports. A🧵 1/6
Many (me included) were wrong on predicting:
1. A declaration of victory (strategic, operation, or tactical).
2. A formal announcement of mobilization.

What wasn't said is important (especially #1) because intel said he had told his generals to produce a victory by 9 May. 2/
As a reminder, here what I thought were the early RU Strategic objectives:
-Execute regime change in Ukraine (replace Zelensky in Kyiv).
-Control Black/Azov Sea access
-Destroy Ukraine's army in the east
-Subjugate Ukraine's population
-Further Divide NATO & US 3/
Read 9 tweets
May 6
Having done a fair share of targeting of enemy forces during my career, I'm a bit baffled about the amount of coverage of the intelligence sharing that is going on between the US and Ukraine.

Here's why. Another 🧵 1/12
When conducting "targeting," there are three important elements to consider:
1). The collection of important intelligence
2). The "boarding" of the target (how to hit, where to hit, when to hit, defenses, etc.)
3). The enemy's ability to avoid being hit. 2/
Collection of intelligence comes in many ways:
-Overhead satellite imagery
-Collection of electronic signals
-Collection of human intelligence information
-"Patterns of life/movement"
-Enemy ability to defend itself

Many countries do intel collection & the US is great at it. 3/
Read 12 tweets
May 5
Navy Captain (and Astronaut) @StationCDRKelly asked me last night "how can you sabotage a Russian T72"

He has contacts who can get this information to those young Russian soldiers who see the invasion of Ukraine as illegal.

Here's his thread & my English translation. A 🧵 1/11
“How to Sabotage your Russian Tank 101.” Dear Russian Soldiers, We understand some of you are sabotaging your tanks which means others may want to and do not know the best way. Here are some basic tips for how to render the T72 inoperable: 2/
1. Pour a lot of dirt, sand, or sugar into the fuel tanks to clog the lines.
2. Drain the oil in either the engine or transmission, and it will eventually burnout either system.
3. Since the T72 runs on a “Christie” track/suspension, it’s easier to sabotage the road wheels... 3/
Read 11 tweets

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