Mark Hertling Profile picture
Sep 16 15 tweets 5 min read
Warning: This will NOT be a popular thread. I anticipate a high degree of pushback from those who follow me.

But...I thought it might be useful to provide some thoughts as to why the US may be "rebuffing" the request to provide ATACMS to Ukraine.
This topic will be a topic as @POTUS announces the next Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) for Ukraine military aid, which may occur in 2-3 days, with a new tranche figure somewhere between $500-750M.

The package will likely consist of mostly HIMAR pods & artillery 2/
Many will ask: "Why no longer range ATACMS?"

Most of those asking may not know the difference - besides the extended range - of ATACM missiles versus HIMAR rockets. So here's some details comparisons: 3/
A GMLRS rocket (pronounced GIM-LERS, Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System) is fired by the HIMARS.

These rockets:
-Are 6 rockets to a "pod"
-each has a 200 lb warhead
-with range of 15-92+ km (9-57+ miles)
-extremely precise (hit w/in 10 m of target)
-cost about $160k/rocket 4/
An ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) Missile was developed in the '80's as part of a "deep strike" weapon to hit 2d echelon Soviet Targets.

The missile:
-is 1 missile per pod (6 "caps" on pod are for deception)
-with a 500lb warhead
-has a 300km/190mile range
-cost $850k
So, key comparisons:

HIMARS can hit 6 different targets with GPS precision, with a 200 lb "bomb" for each target, at 50+ miles

ATACMS can precisely hit 1 target, at longer range, with a 500 lb explosion.

The two are below. 6/
Key decisions since the start of support to UKR ask "what do they need in this phase of the fight?"

In phase 1 (the attack on Kyiv) it was Javelin & Stinger. Shoulder fired, easy to use.

In phase 2 (Donbas) it was a lot of artillery, radars, trucks, HIMARS, precision ammo. 7/
During each stage, questions were:

-What do they need...right now?
-Can we get it there, can they logistically support it?
-How will they use it?
-What are the number of targets that need to be struck?
-How much can we draw from US stocks/ammo supplies?


What's the cost?
UKR would like a technologically advanced, modern army...right now!

But every nation has national security requirements...& not many have additional/usable "stocks."

One guy tweeted me "yeah, but we have 1000 M1 tanks in a desert boneyard" with this picture: 9/
Yes. Those are M1 tanks (they fire a 105 mm rounds; the M1A1 we use today fires a 120mm) & I'd suggest they have pretty dry seals & unworkable engines/transmissions. Not good without mechanics, parts, supplies, ammo.

Ah, but I digress from ATACMs.... 10/
On ATACMS, @SecDef - a smart guy with battlefield savvy - likely weighed a lot of advantages/disadvantages of providing ATACMS to UKR.

I don't know what those were, but that's his job.

He then recommended to POTUS: "not right now. UKR is doing great without them." 11/
His reasons might be cost/effectiveness per round, capability of acquiring targets at over 100km (you have to see what you want to hit), # of targets, # of missiles in US stock required to meet US contingency plans, and more. All likely played a part in the discussion. 12/
But he and POTUS also wanted to prevent even further conflict escalation. US/NATO/UKR has done a great job of "managing" & fighting so far.

RU threats may seem lame, but there's still potential for more violence. RU general mobilization, WMD use, more intensive strikes. 13/
Putin still wants to blame the US/NATO, pull us into this. He may believe a way out is further widening the conflict.

That's dumb, but Putin hasn't been smart so far.

So having ATACM missiles with "USA" on the side hitting targets inside RU probably isn't the best thing. 14/
Ukraine is marching toward victory & they will have a modern army in the near future. Some may *want* ATACMs right now, but they're doing great in the close fight. ATACMS aren't needed now.

See...toldja these thoughts wouldn't be popular. 15/15

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More from @MarkHertling

Sep 13
Ukraine's Army was likely as surprised as so many others with the speed & success of their Kharkiv offensive over the last five days. It is & continues to be brilliant.

But as one who saw both success & failure in combat, I have some concerns...

Here a 🧵on some thoughts.
Like others, I'm euphoric about UA's advance in Kharkiv & Kherson & their continued active defense on the Donbas front.

A brilliant advance resulting from a solid maneuver plan, deception, technologically advanced weapons, use of intelligence, leadership & morale.
.@PhillipsPOBrien perfectly describes the action as a Ukrainian military "masterstroke" in @TheAtlantic (attached).

And while @laraseligman suggests western officials were surprised by the speed of the advance... 2/…
Read 20 tweets
Sep 6
Reports indicate Zelenskyy will announce tonight (Ukraine time) that UA is executing operations in Kharkiv Oblast.

This confirms RU inability to maneuver forces between theater locations & within their force's defensive "stance" to counter Ukrainian offensive actions.

Why? 1/
As noted from the start of the RU illegal invasion, intel indicated RU had aligned a force estimated in size of 190,000 troops around UKR's ~1400 mile border, with a plan of attack along 9 main axes.

A large part of that force was in the north & it was decimated. 2/
In phase 2 (starting in April), RU shifted their northern forces to the eastern Donbas to try to achiever more limited objectives.

Remember, there was a shoddy attempt to "regenerate" the forces for that second offensive...they rushed it, and UA kept up the pressure. 3/
Read 10 tweets
Sep 5
While it's not on the news, I'm watching the current fight in Kherson (and the renewed fight in the Donbas).

The "Kherson pocket" (a smaller version of the WWII "Falaise Pocket" I mentioned a few weeks ago) is not a large "counteroffensive," but it is interesting. 1/16🧵
What follows are maps, descriptions of terrain, locations of tactical battles, and their relative potential significance.

Without battlefield intel, I don't know details of what General Zaluzhnyi or Col-Gen Shaptala see, but these are my thoughts.2/…
1st, some geographical reminders about Kherson (in light green).
-It's both a city & an Oblast (like a province)
-The Oblast is about the size of Maryland, the city is about 1/2 the size of Baltimore.
-The wide Dnipro River dissects the Oblast and runs to the Black Sea. 3/
Read 16 tweets
Sep 2
An attention-grabbing headline DOESN'T tell the story.…

@CNN's @EllieCKaufman reports accurate information, but the headline -with one small picture- implies West Point (my alma mater) is displaying a plaque to the KKK outside an academic building. 1/5
Several other media outlets have done the same.

In reading this article, Ellie does a good job in telling of the "triptych" artwork that tells "the history of the United States in bronze relief" w/ 3 panels each 11x5 feet.

Here's what the ENTIRE piece of art looks like: 2/
Artist Laura Fraser (1889–1966) was an American sculptor commissioned to design the panels.

She wanted to create a piece depicting “historical incidents or persons” while "documenting both tragedy & triumph in our nation’s history." The KKK was part of the tragedy. 3/
Read 5 tweets
Aug 31
In 2011, a Sikh recruit approached his basic training commander asking for an exception to Army policy to allow him to serve with religious accommodation.

The @usarmy did so. His name is @kamaljeetkhalsi
& today he is a reserve LTC, surgeon & member of a @potus commission. 1/
He made a strong argument, stood up for his religious & cultural beliefs, & made sacrifices. He was awarded a Bronze Star in Afghanistan while saving many lives. 2/
He’s also helped other Sikhs join our @USArmy, and several have graduated from West Point.
Read 4 tweets
Aug 23
It's 6 PM here on the east coast, but it's 0100 in the morning in Kyiv. It is already Ukraine's Independence Day.

There's predictions this will be a tough day for our friends, as Russia hates independence - freedom & sovereignty - when it concerns great nations. 1/8
Putin threatens more death from the skies - from Russian rockets, missiles, whatever is left - and promises to reign these devices on civilians.

They threaten strikes on Kyiv's Khreshchatyk Street, the one stretching from European SQ through the Maidan to Bessarabska SQ. 2/
.@StateDept is telling US citizens to seek safety because Russian rockets aren't precise & Kyiv is likely a target. That's prudent.

So today, I've been thinking more about Ukraine...Ukrainian soldiers, seeing Ukraine's culture... during my last few years in the Army. 3/
Read 8 tweets

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