“As the Ukraine war has proven, the effectiveness of artillery rests on more than its range or the destructive power of its shells.
The mobility of a howitzer — its capacity to “shoot and scoot” — can make the difference between living to fight another day and being destroyed by the enemy. That’s why the US Army is pondering whether hauling guns by truck is still a viable option.
For towed artillery, “10- or 15-minute displacement time is not going to work against a good enemy,” Gen. James Rainey, head of US Army Futures Command, told reporters at the Association of the United States Army’s annual conference, held this month in Washington DC.”
“it wasn’t Russian sailors themselves who were clubbing or shooting each of these animals. The Aleutian Islands, and much of the southern rim of Alaska that Russian shipmen explored, already housed tens of thousands of locals. Aleuts and Tlingits, Inuit and Yupik, nation after nation of Alaska Natives already claimed a home in the region, largely untouched by European explorers.
And then the Russians came. And just as they had among Indigenous peoples in Siberia — and just as British, French, Spanish, and Portuguese explorers had done in the warmer climes of the Americas — Russian troops saw Indigenous peoples as little more than a subhuman hindrance, but also as a potential means to an end.
It didn’t take long after the Russian landing for the familiar pattern of colonial crimes to play out, sending Indigenous populations reeling. Almost immediately, Russian colonizers began implementing the same playbook they’d perfected across Siberia. The first step was known as iasak, in which Russian representatives demanded tribute — furs, typically — from Indigenous populations. In order to assure compliance, Russian traders implemented the playbook’s second element: amanaty, in which Russians would seize hostages from Indigenous populations, held until the iasak requirements were completed. Often, Russian representatives would kidnap the children of local leaders — all the better to ensure compliance. In some cases, as historian Anne Hyde has written, the Russians would abduct the children of up to half of the male populations of a given community.
Nor did they stop there. As the U.S.’s National Institute for Health notes, such an arrangement allowed the Russians to effectively “enslave” local populations. Demanding “furs in exchange for [the] lives” of women and children, Russians would “sexually exploit the hostages” — and even “execute the hostages” should the fur intake fall short. All of it, just “to set an example” for other recalcitrant Indigenous populations.”
“the Ukrainian defenders are holding on with the help of tiny drones flown by operators like Firsov that, for a few hundred dollars, can deliver an explosive charge capable of destroying a Russian tank worth more than $2 million.
The FPV — or “first-person view” — drones used in such strikes are equipped with an onboard camera that enables skilled operators like Firsov to direct them to their target with pinpoint accuracy. Before the war, a teenager might hope to get one for a New Year present. Now they are being used as agile weapons that can transform battlefield outcomes. Others are watching, and learning, from a technology that is giving early adopters an asymmetric advantage against established methods of warfare.”
“The Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah has obtained Russian anti-ship missiles capable of targeting US carrier groups posted near Israel, Reuters reported.
In a speech last week Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah issued a veiled threat to the US, saying that the militant group had weapons capable of striking US warships in the region to deter attacks on Israel.
Reuters, citing unnamed sources, said that Nasrallah was talking about Russian Yakhont missiles which Hezbollah obtained while fighting alongside Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the Syrian civil war.
The missiles have a range of around 186 miles, and can be launched from ground, sea or air.
Speaking about the possibility that Hezbollah had acquired the weapons, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters: “This is news without any confirmation at all. We do not know if it is true or not.”
A US official told the outlet: “We’re obviously paying a lot of attention to that… and we’re taking what capabilities they have seriously.””
“While Ukraine once had the edge in drone superiority, Russia has begun to catch up, producing more sophisticated and numerous drones, as well as ramping up its electronic warfare systems, which defend against Ukraine’s attacks.
Even though they frequently operate from behind the frontlines, the drone controllers often leave an electronic trace if they aren’t careful, which allows the enemy to pinpoint and follow them, The Economist reported this week.
“A lot of people want to become drone pilots because they think the work is further back and safer,” one front-line commander told the outlet. “The reality is that it’s extremely dangerous to be flying battlefield drones.”
“Hummer,” a commander in Ukraine’s 47th brigade operating along the Zaporizhia front, told The Economist the Russians fire with everything they’ve got as soon as they identify a target.
Russia has employed similar strike drones in Ukraine, but also uses high-precision artillery, mines, and glide bombs to take out the enemy, the outlet reported.
Ukraine has had to rely primarily on volunteers and donations to control and supply its drone stock while Russia has easier access to more expensive reconnaissance drones, allowing the country to increasingly attack Ukrainian positions near the front lines in recent months.
The Economist reported that Russian FPV drones have destroyed multiple Bradley Fighting Vehicles and even a Leopard tank. An infantryman fighting between Robotyne and Verbove told the outlet that Ukrainian losses have significantly increased in part, because of Russia’s use of drones.
In addition to making drone pilots sought-after targets, the war’s reliance on drone warfare has also forced both sides to adapt in real time; equipment that can detect and defend against electronic warfare has become a necessity on the battlefield.
“If your cover is poor, then you are likely a dead man,” a drone pilot operating in the Zaporizhia province, told The Economist. “God, not physics, decides if you survive.””
““Now we’re fighting a conventional Russian army, but before Bakhmut fell, the Wagner group was in the area, and they had a particularly terrible approach to this. The group sent forward unarmed men, mostly prisoners, with ammunition for the next group who were experienced mercenaries. They thus used the prisoners as a meat transport machine for ammunition and equipment,” says Mathew, a medic with Ukraine’s Third Assault Brigade. He took The Daily Beast in his ambulance to watch them picking up soldiers like ‘Cossack’ from the front line and delivering them to hospitals for emergency treatment. This approach, they say, was uncomfortably effective. “They had no fear” he says, because the consequences of retreat were “certain death”
Michael Kofman of the Center for Naval Analysis told The Daily Beast: “Wagner troops were better motivated, but in the Stalinist tradition that in Wagner it took more courage to retreat than to attack”—knowing they would be shot at any sign of retreat. He notes that they also had “a significant artillery advantage provided by the Russian military (hence Prigozhin’s endless arguments for more munitions), having their flanks secured by the Russian airborne, and a large supply of expendable fighters from the Russian prison system,” all of which are lacked by the current Russian forces. He also points out that “Wagner had not been used, or set up, as a defensive force in this war and so it is unclear how they would have performed on the defense around Bakhmut’s flanks.”
Since Wagner vanished, Matthew says the quality of the Russian soldiers has declined and the men are more likely to flee or let their lines break under pressure. “The ones we meet don’t even pick up their dead,” he said.”
““The counteroffensive is going well,” he says, but what he fears most is a longer war. “Everyone who wanted to fight signed up long ago,” he says from a café in the city of Slovyansk. “If the Russians wanted to, they have millions of men they can mobilize. We are at our total limit.””