Russia’s New Generation Warfare – Lessons Learned – Russo-Ukrainian War
Michael P. Hrycak, Esq.
316 Lenox Avenue
Westfield, NJ 07090
Dr. Phillip A. Karber, of the Potomac Foundation, and LTC Joshua Thibeault, an operations research systems analyst and member of Training and Doctrine Command’s Russian New Generation Warfare Study Team, published an interesting article that gives insight into Russia’s development and implementation of a New Generation Warfare in Ukraine, in the June, 2016, issue of Army magazine, https://www.ausa.org/articles/russia%E2%80%99s-new-generation-warfare . It is important to study the development of Russia’s new weapons and tactics to keep our Army, and our allies, as well as NATO, ready to confront this threat.
There are five component elements: 1. Political Subversion- inserting “agitprop” agents that manipulate mass media through Information Operations using ethnic-linguistic class differences, etc… 2. Proxy Sanctuary – seizing key government facilities, police stations, military depots, and airports, arming and training insurgents who destroy ingress transportation infrastructure, create phony one-party referendums, cyberattacks to compromise victim communications, thereby creating “people’s republics” under Russian tutelage, 3. Intervention – deploying large scale Russian forces to engage in large scale military exercises along its border, “introduction of heavy weapons to insurgents; creation of training and logistics camps adjacent to the border; commitment of so-called volunteer combined-arms battalion tactical groups; integration of proxy troops into higher-level formations that are equipped, supported and led by Russians.”, 4. Coercive Deterrence – secret strategic force alerts, with “snap checks”, forward deployment and exercises of tactical and theater nuclear weapons, aggressive air patrolling in neighboring areas to discourage other state involvement, 5. Negotiated Manipulation – using and abusing Western-negotiated ceasefires to reset and rearm their forces while bleeding opposing army white and using fear of escalation to inhibit other nation involvement and assistance.
Dr. Karber had prepared an in-depth paper ‘”Lessons Learned” from The Russo-Ukrainian War – Personal Observations’ 6 July 2015 for a Historical Lessons Learned Workshop sponsored by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and U.S. Army Capabilities Center (ARCIC) based upon 15 separate trips to Ukraine from March, 2014, through June, 2015 (when he was wounded during an MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) attack at Lebedyns’ky and had to discontinue his trips). Unfortunately never published (I have an electronic copy to share), it urged a military dialogue to observe and understand the Russian “New Generation Warfare” as it was being implemented in eastern Ukraine, the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of the Minsk I and II Ceasefires, assess the current and future capabilities of the Ukrainian Army, most importantly to create and understanding and develop capabilities for U.S. and NATO forces to counter, neutralize, and defeat the Russian Warfare by gaining an insight and understanding into its Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP’s).
I can only share a few examples of Dr. Karber and LTC Thibeault’s observations and recommendations. Electronic Warfare is the centerpiece of the Russian effort, to deny communications (there are areas in the Donbas region where no electromagnetic communications are possible), defeat Unmanned Aerial Systems (which are relied upon to a very large extent not just for reconnaissance and surveillance, but also targeting and even bombing), defeating artillery and mortars, and targeting command and control nodes. They urge our forces to go back to being proficient on analog systems, remove all unnecessary electromagnetic emitters, and “a day without radios and computers” during training missions, as well as develop organic Electronic Warfare (EW) systems. Unmanned Aerial Systems are being used in large numbers on both sides, with their limited radar cross-section and ability to appear on target with little to no warning, they have been used very effectively for immediate and mass suppression or mechanized and light units, citing one battle in August, 2014, where two Ukrainian mechanized battalions suffered mass casualties (over 30%) in minutes (together with massed artillery, rockets, top-attack munitions and thermobaric rounds). New weapons are being employed to defeat UAV’s, but need to be deployed down to company and platoon level. Our forces need to emphasize cover concealment, and deception (yes, just like the Cold War), in addition to using these new UAV defeating weapons and tactics.
Of grave and immediate note: “Russia employs a combination of dual-purpose improved conventional munitions, scatterable mines, top-attack munitions and thermobaric warheads that have catastrophic consequences when used in preplanned, massed fire strikes. The U.S. has removed all of these warheads from its inventory.” (Army article) This would require U.S., NATO, and allied development and intervention (including the repeal of Secretary of Defense Gates directive for U.S. forces to comply with the 2008 Ottawa Treaty) to reverse the sliding-back to the dark ages nature of Russian development of weapons and ammunition that a decade ago all major powers agreed was a relic of the Cold War and needed to be demilitarized and relegated to museums.
As a final example, in early August, 2014, Ukrainian Colonel Mikhail Zubrowski, a Fort Leavenworth Command and General Staff College graduate, organized his 95th Air Assault Brigade, and planned and executed the “largest and longest armored raid behind military lines in recorded military history” (Dr. Karber, Lessons Learned), modeled after JEB Stuart’s raid of the rear of McClellan’s forces during the Civil War Penninsula Campaign, by employing combined-arms company teams along parallel axes of advance, penetrating the enemy’s defenses, splitting the two People’s Republics in half, and then clearing out 200 Kilometers of the infiltration area along the southern Donbas, including relieving the beleaguered 25th Airborne Brigade, overrunning and capturing and destroying Russian tanks and artillery, and finally returning to the starting area near Sloviansk (moving and unprecedented 450 Km, mostly behind enemy lines). This demoralized the Russian and proxy forces, but relieved several trapped Ukrainian garrisons. Unfortunately, this spurred a heavy-handed counterattack by Russian Battalion Tactical Groups toward the end of August, 2014, resulting in the Battle of Ilovaisk, and creation of a new Western Front toward Mariupol (to attempt a land bridge to Crimea). The Ukrainian forces were in a large part surrounded, and massed fires decimated two mechanized battalions in a matter of minutes, giving Putin a chance to force Ukraine’s President Poroshenko to accept the first Minsk ceasefire agreement, which included the right of safe passage, which the Russian, and proxy, forces reneged on, massing fires and killing retreating Ukrainians, and capturing and torturing Prisoners of War (POW).
Thus, we have the harbinger of Russian-developed New Generation Warfare being practiced and developed in eastern Ukraine. Although the media has ignored the Russo-Ukrainian War, the military has not, and cannot. U.S. and other armies have been training and preparing Ukrainian forces to continue to fight and counter the Russian invasion. But it is up to us, both those currently serving, as well as those that are now retired as spectators, to keep our leadership sighted in to what really matters. Russia has already showed the world what it can and will do in Chechnya and Georgia, and currently Syria as well, and our country’s leadership needs to study and develop our fighting forces to counter and defeat them, and all those who want to follow them.