Michael Kofman Profile picture
Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment. Defense analysis with a focus on the Russian and Ukrainian militaries.
Fellakommando Südost 🇩🇪🇪🇺🇺🇦 Profile picture Sue Strong @strong_sue@mastodon.sdf.org 🇺🇦 Profile picture Jodi Smart Profile picture bubblesmoney Profile picture Ellis Bell Profile picture 226 subscribed
Jul 7 6 tweets 1 min read
A few thoughts on DPICM. Providing cluster munitions to Ukraine, at this stage, could have a significant impact beyond what other capabilities might achieve. Despite the drawbacks, unlocking this stockpile has important implications for the course of Ukraine's offensive. 1/ Ukraine's offensive is limited by the artillery ammunition available. The US, and other countries, provided a significant amount for this operation. Much of this was borrowed from South Korea. Without this ammunition it is difficult to imagine this offensive taking place. 2/
Jun 25 19 tweets 4 min read
A few thoughts on Prigozhin's armed insurrection/mutiny/rebellion. For now it appears over. Wagner seems to be standing down, and leaving Rostov for LNR. Prigozhin launched a mutiny that ultimately challenged Putin’s power, and the system. Thread. 1/ This was not a traditional coup, but with Putin’s video and FSB statements it became a challenge that would reveal the extent of brittleness in the regime. It wasn’t a good showing for Russian state capacity or competence to respond to this kind of challenge. 2/
Jun 7 5 tweets 1 min read
A few thoughts on the dam’s destruction and its implications for Ukraine’s offensive. In brief, I doubt it will have a significant impact on UA mil operations. The Khakovka dam is at least 100 miles from where much of the activity might take place at its closest point. A Ukrainian cross-river operation in southern Kherson, below the dam, was always a risky and therefore low-probability prospect. There is no evidence that such an operation was under way, or would have necessarily been a part of the UA offensive plans.
Jun 3 4 tweets 1 min read
Highly recommend this article. Objective insights based on in country experience. It’s very useful to have other researchers, trainers, and those doing field work compare their observations. warontherocks.com/2023/06/what-t… The way to read this is not as a list of problems or challenges, but as an honest portrayal of a force in transition that’s done remarkably well on the battlefield and continues to evolve. UA is managing attrition, and reconstitution many modern militaries have not experienced.
Apr 22 10 tweets 5 min read
I want to highlight this important article from @EvansRyan202. Presently, US policy is optimized to not learn, or to learn the wrong lessons from this war. Missing access & information that could best inform objective analysis and lessons learned. 1/ warontherocks.com/2023/04/bind-u… Over a year into this war there seems to be little to no institutionalized effort. No observer groups. Folks go on self-initiative to study, observe, learn the history and gain access in a personal or informal capacity. There is very little support. 2/ Image
Apr 4 25 tweets 5 min read
A few thoughts on the current course of the war, Russia’s winter offensive, battle of Bakhmut, and how this phase might affect the coming months. Also check out the WOTR podcast episode below that covers some of this. Thread. 1/ warontherocks.com/2023/04/russia… The Russian offensive in the Donbas has not yet ended, but it has weakened in pace of operations and intensity. Having achieved little, Russian forces are probably preparing to shift to a defensive posture in anticipation of a Ukrainian offensive. 2/
Feb 19 21 tweets 4 min read
A few thoughts on the Russian winter offensive, which began 3+ weeks ago, and has so far yielded little progress for RU forces. Poor force quality, loss of junior officers, ammunition, and equipment constraints limit Russian offensive potential. Thread. 1/ The RU offensive consists of about 5-6 axes of attack focused on the Donbas. Rather than a major push along one part of the front, it is instead a series of distributed battles running north-south from Luhansk, to Bakhmut, and southern Donetsk. 2/
Feb 6 26 tweets 5 min read
A few thoughts on the current course of the war. Although winter has proven a transitional phase, with both sides focusing on force reconstitution and positional fighting. The outlines of the coming months & likely offensive operations are steadily becoming clearer. Thread. 1/ After Kharkiv & Kherson, the Russian military was at its most vulnerable going into the winter. Mobilization helped stabilize Russian lines, raise manning levels, and establish reserves. Consequently, Ukraine no longer enjoys a significant manpower advantage. 2/
Jan 15 14 tweets 4 min read
Good thread by @Tatarigami_UA, but important to parse questions of logistics disruption & RU adjustment, with assessments of fire rate, available stocks, and production rates. Several factors can be relevant, making it difficult to discern which is more causal. 1/ So, are we conflating Russian logistics disruption with RU running out of ammo? My sense is that RU adjustment to logistics disruption has probably been more successful than commonly discussed, but that ammo depletion remains an important factor to watch for 2023. 2/
Jan 15 5 tweets 2 min read
Good piece by Jack. I find the tank discussion somewhat talismanic, but agree that it represents an important political decision point on whether to take the better kit from current fleets to support UA, as opposed to relying on older equipment in storage. 1/ That said, IFVs are probably more important in what they offer UA overall. ADS, arty, barrels, and ammunition, remain the more significant issues. Tanks are often being used in an indirect fire role, though that could be particularly characteristic of fighting over the winter. 2/
Dec 24, 2022 6 tweets 2 min read
Understand US is trying to find ways to improve outcomes and reduce UA dependence on high rates of arty fire. Less attrition, more maneuver. Training to do combined arms at company/battalion level is good in and of itself, but it won’t necessarily solve this problem. 1/ I have no doubt UA can learn combined arms maneuver, and saw elements of this at Kharkiv. However, without USAF air superiority, US logistics, C4ISR, etc it’s a bit hard to ‘fight like Americans.’ How well would we do without airpower? 2/
Nov 22, 2022 6 tweets 2 min read
There's a lot of goodness in this piece by Steve Biddle. It's balanced, and well written, pouring cold water over some of the tech fetishism, and tendentious takes that have proliferated since this war began. A few comments. 1/ warontherocks.com/2022/11/ukrain… From my point of view most technology is offense-defense agnostic, and this is largely a moribund lens for viewing war. I agree with Biddle that force employment is much more deterministic, but I would add force design, which has a structural effect on employment. 2/
Nov 3, 2022 16 tweets 3 min read
A few thoughts on the current course of the war, and some impressions after a recent visit to Ukraine with several colleagues from the mil analysis community, including areas near the front in Kherson. /1 The general sense one gets is that Ukraine is winning the war & morale is high, but like any military operation, you see friction up close that you can’t from a distance. A fair bit of the UA effort is ground up, based on horizontal linkages, volunteers, apps, etc. 2/
Nov 2, 2022 4 tweets 2 min read
Recommend this NYT article. Highlights that nuclear use is ultimately a political decision, but the military has its own views, considerations, and potential courses of action it might recommend. For those interested in more on this a few links below: nytimes.com/2022/11/02/us/… warontherocks.com/2022/09/escala…
Sep 21, 2022 21 tweets 4 min read
A few incomplete thoughts on the question of mobilization. It won't solve many of the RU military's challenges in this war, but it could alter the dynamic. Fair to say that these are uncharted waters, and so we should take care with deterministic or definitive claims. 1/ I wouldn't suggest that this can turn around Russia's fortunes in the war. However, I would take care being overly dismissive, especially looking out towards the medium term of this winter and 2023. Force availability and manpower matters, hence the implications can vary. 2/
Sep 8, 2022 8 tweets 2 min read
Brief thoughts on UA Kharkiv offensive. It appears ambitious, intended to envelop Izyum and try to trap Russian forces there. Likely seeking to interdict ground lines of communication at Kupyansk. The Oskil river east of Izyum makes the pocket vulnerable for RU forces. 1/ UA offensive looks to have made substantial gains, placing RU forces in a precarious position. From what one can tell, and these are early impressions, the advance made good use of armor in conjunction with infantry. 2/
Sep 7, 2022 5 tweets 1 min read
Good thread by Jack. I've largely shied away from this conversation, because I often saw it falling victim to the false certainty of shaky numbers and estimates that seemed predicated on big assumptions. My intuition has been that Russia probably had less usable ammunition to start than being given credit for, but also a lower daily use rate (15-20k vs the 50-60k figures which struck me as unrealistic), and production capacity which could be ramped up over time.
Sep 4, 2022 14 tweets 4 min read
A few brief thoughts on the UA offensive. First, its best to manage expectations, these types of operations take weeks or months to play out. In my view its very early, there is limited information available, and far too soon to issue judgments. Thread 1/ My best guess on UA approach is to steadily press Russian forces towards the Dnipro river. Perhaps splitting the main Russian group of forces between those defending the city Kherson and those holding territory east of the Inhulets river. 2/
Aug 25, 2022 6 tweets 2 min read
Redoing short thread since it didn't post right. I think that there are different ways to interpret the exec order. My own view is that it is partly codifying the present situation in the Russian military, but also reflects future expansion plans, which may be aspirational. /1 The order in my view does not necessarily presage a larger draft, or greater mobilization - it could, but it may be a way of accommodating the various current recruitment efforts to create additional volunteer battalions in the force, and build in room for force expansion. /2
Aug 25, 2022 5 tweets 2 min read
Good thread by Dara. I think that there are different ways to interpret this order. My own view is that it is in part codifying the present situation in the Russian military, but also reflective of future expansion plans, which may be aspirational. /1 The order in my view does not necessarily presage a larger draft, or greater mobilization - it could, but it may be a way of accommodating the various current recruitment efforts to create additional volunteer battalions in the force, and build in room for force expansion. /2
Jun 28, 2022 24 tweets 5 min read
A few thoughts on the current course of the war. The Russian offensive grinds on in the Donbas. Both sides have made incremental gains, neither is near collapse, but equally, both lack the forces for a major breakthrough. Thread. (Will use some of Nathan's maps) 1/ Over the past month Russian forces struggled to break out of Popasna, but have now taken Severodonetsk, and their advance at Toshkivka places them outside Lysychansk. The Russian military now threatens to sever the Severodonetsk/Lysychansk pocket. 2/