Author John Kohchang / Editing by @GBabeuf & S. Naylor
On the Malaysian Airline Tragedy:
This could be the SAM that brought down MH17 (http://i.imgur.com/QnFScsK.jpg). Why where these Buk even deployed to Donetsk? Russian planes haven’t once flown across the border, and the Self-Defence Forces (SDF) have no air force!
Here is another video of a Ukrainian Army (UA) Buk system, filmed by a Gorlovka resident who was driving to work in Soledar and came across a whole convoy of military equipment (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bj-VZB0ZdEA#t=37).
Some Thoughts on the SDF:
The SDF has rapidly transformed itself from a band of disorganized Donbass citizens into what we now see—a truly effective defence force that has even passed over to offensive actions against a regular army. In fact they are opposed not just by the UA, but also by a largely volunteer NazGvardiya (“National Guard”), and by private military companies (PMCs) and NATO ‘advisers’.
The SDF’s growth and transformation has allowed them to mount fighting patrols that are able to destroy and capture Ukrainian positions just like this one, near Krasnodon: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnSmHr7scA8) This short video demonstrates how effective they have become.
The acquisition of armoured infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) and artillery—and men sufficiently trained to operate them effectively—has greatly improved the SDF’s ability to take the offensive and assisted in the defence of the cities. Commanders seem to be up to the task, but the momentum is increasing and artillery getting heavier and this needs to be dealt with.
Counter-battery fire or infantry attacks are the only way for militia to stop the UA doing this (Map of artillery strikes on Lugansk by the UA: (http://cs616016.vk.me/v616016111/16a5f/NrS-QjVz78c.jpg). The SDF can attempt to cut the logistical supply line as artillery and troops need massive amounts of resupply, both food and ammunition. I should hope to see many more effective and successful ambushes as the UA move into the cities. The closer they get to the SDF the less effectively are they able to use their own artillery or air force for fear of hitting their own troops. Also, “blue on blue”—“friendly fire”—will happen as some of the UA are untrained; and as they move into the cities, and troops make contact and get mixed and afraid or confused or lost, the KIA figures will mount.
The UA could be assisted by NATO forward air controllers (FAC), or forward observation officers (FOO), as their technology would be more advanced and the UA have been on NATO/ISAF operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and have a history of cooperating with them. If Russian Intelligence could get proof of this it might cause an outcry in the EU, but only until Poroshenko makes it legal: he is currently trying to pass a bill in the Supreme Rada that would allow PMCs to work legally as part of the UA.
Fighting in built-up areas (FIBUA) or military operations in urban terrain (MOUT), is heavy in man power, requiring a 3:1 or 5:1 superiority of attackers to defenders. “Killing zones” and natural choke points will be covered by mortars/artillery and SDF men—the UA will take massive casualties if they assault. I think they will continue probing attacks, close target reconnaissance (CTRs) and reconnaissance in force, continuing to shell the cities. This means more civilian deaths, but the MSM is not covering those deaths anyway, so… (A blockade would take longer—I truly believe Kiev cannot afford such a delay—but it would be the best strategy and would minimise civilian loss of life.)
The SDF will have to counter these CTRs. They will be conducted by special forces (SF) or by the best trained soldiers the UA have—perhaps by NATO SF? They will be establishing observation posts (OPs) to monitor and/or locate all priority targets—such as HQ, artillery, troop movements/groupings—and sending location state information (LOCSTAT) to their HQ, giving:
- Grid references
- Further intention/direction of travel
- Additional status information
It looks as if they have been successful in countering some of these groups. This is where the local population can be utilized; many eyes and local knowledge are a great advantage to the SDF (a call-line for tip-offs).
Commentary on a Situation Report from Lugansk:
SITREP from Lugansk:
1. The city remains under full militia control.
2. During the night in the suburbs there were clashes with the reconnaissance and sabotage groups of the enemy, and spotters were being caught in the city itself.
(A quick reaction force (QRF) or MQRF on-call to answer the hotline could assist in countering the CTRs)
3. Shelling from tubed and rocket artillery against Lugansk started during the day and more or less died down only late in the night. Hundreds of shells and rockets fell on the city. The overall number of dead and wounded may reach up to four hundred to four hundred and twenty people.
(The documented instances of shell impacts in the city are noted on the map above. Medical supplies are needed).
4. Several powerful air-strikes were carried out against Lugansk closer to the night.
(Thankfully there are old USSR bomb shelters!)
5. The Lugansk airport remains blockaded.
(On this, just keep up the blockade as the UA will run out of ammunition and food supplies if the air-drops and main supply route is blocked. Stop wasting troops on assaults, keep ambushing the logistics.)