Franz-Stefan Gady Profile picture
Jul 18 26 tweets 4 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
New🧵: @konrad_muzyka , @RALee85 , @KofmanMichael,& I spent some time this month visiting the frontlines in Ukraine to gain new insights into the ongoing counteroffensive & the war overall. Here are some general observations. Image
(Note: More detailed analysis will be coming out by all of us in the coming weeks.)

First off, we spoke to NCOs, officers, a number of brigade commanders (national guard & regular army) in the field plus senior intel & defense officials in Kyiv (alongside @DAlperovitch).

1.) By and large this is an infantryman’s fight (squad, platoon & company level) supported by artillery along most of the frontline. This has several implications: 1st: Progress is measured by yards/meters and not km/miles given reduced mobility.
2nd: Mechanized formations are rarely deployed due to lack of enablers for maneuver. This includes insufficient quantities of de-mining equipment, air defenses, ATGMs etc.
2.) Ukrainian forces have still not mastered combined arms operations at scale. Operations are more sequential than synchronized. This creates various problems for the offense & IMO is the main cause for slow progress.
3.) 🇺🇦 forces by default have switched to a strategy of attrition relying on sequential fires rather than maneuver. This is the reason why cluster munitions are critical to extend current fire rates into the fall: weakening Russian defenses to a degree that enables maneuver.
4.) Minefields are a problem as most observers know. They confine maneuver space & slow advances. But much more impactful than the minefields per se on Ukraine’s ability to break through Russian defenses is 🇺🇦s inability to conduct complex combined arms operations at scale.
Lack of a comprehensive combined arms approach at scale makes Ukrainian forces more vulnerable to Russian ATGMs, artillery etc. while advancing. So it's not just about equipment. There’s simply no systematic pulling apart of the Russian defensive system that I could observe.
5.) The character of this offensive will only likely change if there is a more systematic approach to breaking through Russian defenses, perhaps paired with or causing a severe degradation of Russian morale, that will lead to a sudden or gradual collapse of Russian defenses.
Absent a sudden collapse of Russian defenses, I suspect this will remain a bloody attritional fight with reserve units being fed in incrementally in the coming weeks & months.
6.) There is limited evidence of a systematic deep battle that methodically degrades Russian C2/munitions. Despite rationing on the Russian side, ammunition is available and Russians appear to have fairly good battlefield ISR coverage.
Russians also had no need to deploy operational reserves yet to fend off Ukrainian attacks.There is also evidence of reduced impact of HIMARS strikes due to effective Russian countermeasures. (This is important to keep in mind re. any potential tac. impact of delivery of ATACMs.)
Russian forces, even if severely degraded & lacking ammo, are likely capable of delaying, containing or repulsing individual platoon- or company-sized Ukrainian advances unless these attacks are better coordinated & synchronized along the broader frontline.
7.) Quality of Russian forces varies. Attrition is hitting them hard but they are defending their positions well, according to Ukrainians we spoke to. They have been quite adaptable at the tactical level and are broadly defending according to Soviet/Russian doctrine.
8.) Russian artillery rationing is real & happening. Ukraine has established fire superiority in tube artillery while Russia retains superiority in MRLSs in the South. Localized fire superiority in some calibers alone does not suffice, however, to break through Russian defenses.
9.) An additional influx of weapons systems (e.g., ATACMs, air defense systems, MBTs, IFVs etc.) while important to sustain the war effort, will likely not have a decisive tactical impact without adaptation and more effective integration.
Ukraine will have to better synchronize & adapt current tactics, without which western equipment will not prove tac. decisive in the long run. This is happening but it is slow work in progress. (Most NATO-style militaries would struggle with this even more than the 🇺🇦s IMO).
10.) The above is also true for breaching operations. Additional mine clearing equipment is needed & will be helpful (especially man-portable mine-clearing systems) but not decisive without better integration of fire & maneuver at scale.
(Again, I cannot emphasize enough how difficult this is to pull off in wartime.)

Monocausal explanations for failure (like lack of de-mining equipment) do not reflect reality. E.g., some Ukrainian assaults were stopped by Russian ATGMs even before reaching the 1st 🇷🇺 minefield.
11.) There is a dearth of artillery barrels that is difficult to address given production rates and delivery timelines.
12.) So far Ukraine’s approach in this counteroffensive has been first and foremost direct assaults on Russian positions supported by a rudimentary deep battle approach. And no, these direct assaults are not mere probing attacks.
13.) There is evidence of tactical cyber operations supporting closing of kinetic kill-chains. That is cyber ISR contributing to identifying & tracking targets on the battlefield. Starlink remains absolutely key for Ukrainian C2.
14.) Quality of Ukrainian officers and NCOs we met appears excellent & morale remains high. However, there are some force quality issues emerging with less able bodied & older men called up for service now.
15.) The narrative that Ukrainian progress thus far is slow just because of a lack of weapons deliveries and support is monocausal & is not shared by those we spoke to actually fighting & exercising command on the frontline.
16.) It goes without saying that in a war of attrition, more artillery ammunition & hardware is always needed and needs to be steadily supplied. (Western support of Ukraine certainly should continue as there is still the prospect that the counteroffensive will make gains.)
But soldiers fighting on the frontline we spoke to are all too aware that lack of progress is often more due to force employment, poor tactics, lack of coordination btw. units, bureaucratic red tape/infighting, Soviet style thinking etc. & ...Russians putting up stiff resistance.

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More from @HoansSolo

Jun 30
New interview with Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, the top officer in Ukraine’s armed forces. It contains interesting details on his relationship with 🇺🇸Gen. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the impact of Prigozhin's mutity on the counteroffensive etc.…
"The questions that weigh on him daily: When will Ukraine’s Western partners provide the arms he needs...
Zaluzhny said he relays his concerns to Milley, whom he has grown to deeply admire and considers a friend, several times per week in conversations that can last hours..."
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Jun 14
Interesting interview with the CEO of Rheinmetall:
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Jun 8
A few quick thoughts on the ongoing 🇺🇦 Ukrainian counteroffensive:

1.) From what I was able to observe over the last 72 hours, it appears that we have a entered the ‘’main phase’ of the counteroffensive, although the bulk of Ukrainian forces has not been committed AFAIK.
2.) It makes little sense to try to identify the main effort or multiple main axes of advance at this stage. The fog of war persists & both sides are conducting information warfare operations. So this is largely a pointless exercise.
There are areas where it makes more sense, and areas where it makes less sense for the Ukrainians to attack. It partially depends on Ukrainian initial successes when advancing, which can then can be exploited by follow-on forces & Russian forces’ reaction to it.
Read 10 tweets
Jun 7
My latest for @ForeignPolicy : Europe should bury its naïveté regarding Chinese military power, even if no Chinese missiles will likely rain down on Paris, London, or Berlin.…
Luftwaffe pilots, even retired ones who haven’t flown recently, could teach Chinese pilots about planning and executing effective suppression and destruction of enemy air defense (critical operations known by their military acronyms, SEAD & DEAD).
SEAF & DEAD was a Luftwaffe forte during and immediately after the Cold War. It is also a critical skillset for the Chinese air force to acquire in order to gain air superiority in any fight over Taiwan.
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“‘Here we go,’Kaban said.
Clouds covered the moon and the stars. The battalion had begun the war with about seventy-five American night-vision devices, but many had been lost as soldiers were killed or injured in firefights.”
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May 22
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As the ongoing war demonstrates, a porcupine defense strategy for Ukraine needs to acknowledge that any future war is likely to be similarly dominated by large-scale land battles, mutual attrition, and the need for lots of firepower and protection from it.
This needs to be reflected in a long-term rearmament plan for Ukraine. Europe and the United States consequently need to take the necessary steps today in order to prepare for rapid and substantial military support for Ukraine once the hot phase of the war is over.
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