UKRAINE: and the naivete of Soviet Tactics

I have mentioned that some of the equipment used in this war might date back to the World Wars. But I don’t think I’ve ever spoken about the tactics used on the ground, and how supplying them with more advanced weaponry would lead to a massacre not just because of the scale of the weaponry, but ass-backwards practices being used by militias and irregulars on both sides of this war.

This is a war where both sides claim a history back to the “Great Patriotic War” (WWII). One side, the pro-Russian rebels, claiming the glory of the Soviet Union, while the other side claiming a past collaboration with the Nazis.

Their outdated uniform are sometimes worn because they can’t get anything better, and other times it’s a symbol of their allegiance. It’s also indicative of how many of the old fogies, who are in positions of authority, don’t seem to understand that time has marched on past the red flags and swastikas. They haven’t realized that modern warfare is more than just an adolescent video game.

In all the footage you see of US or NATO forces, the soldiers keep a liberal distance from one another – and there’s a reason for it.

You keep distance so that when something explodes near enough to someone to cause bodily harm, the other members of your party should be far enough away to limit the effects. Why would that matter? Well, if you’re standing right beside someone and a mortar lands close by, you will both taken out – injured or killed. That’s two fighters that are combat ineffective, and will need treatment and evacuation.

Keep your distance, and one person should be unharmed enough to render life saving treatment, and help evacuate the injured out.

You follow me? It’s a tactic used to counter developing technology.

Well, pro-Russians, and a few of the militias on the Ukrainian side, don’t do that. The tendency appears to be worse on the rebel side.

Advisers from European countries/people with experience in NATO armies might have told them that this is a bad practice, but much like the gosh-darnit, Joe six-packs who claim “well if it was good enough for my grand pappy, it’s good enough for me” wisdom, some of these untrained militias snap their fingers and staunchly believe that if certain actions were good enough for the Soviet Army, by gosh-darn-golly, it’s good enough for them too.

So they don’t keep distance. Because the old man who was in the Soviet army says that it isn’t important. So the casualties of this war are as much attributed to bad tactics and the inability to adapt to new weaponry, as they are to the war.

Now, mix this inability to modernize tactics, and add in international, advanced weaponry, and you’ll have carnage.

Obama, Putin… send us salad, because there will be a lot of meat. 

Sure, NATO countries would never say that they would give this weaponry without offering training. But with the unaccountability of equipment (corruption) on both sides of this war, you have no idea what big chief is going to see the weaponry and gift it to his favorite commander, who’ll give it to his favorite corporal who can’t tell a chevron on the scope from the stick in his ass. There are so many bad practices with the weaponry they already have – what happens if you give them brand new toys?

Negligent discharge? “Eta Normalna”. In the barracks. In the restaurants. When you’re giving a video interview to a Vice reporter… no problem.

Using grenade launchers without aiming? That’s just good old-fashioned fun.

Shooting from the hip? Using your sights are for the weak.

Put some javelins (the main, requested weapon by Ukrainian militias after discovering I’m from the United States) into the mix, and you’ll end up with a paper weight, or a negligent discharge you don’t really want to play with. A source indicated that he had seen javelins in the Ukrainian side – possibly “donated” by some western allies or smuggled by the not-so-underground weapon’s dealers. The source said they couldn’t figure out how to turn it on.

There’s also a bit of an alcohol problem here. Yesterday, a Ukrainian soldier that was drunk in Konstantinovka – a town under the Ukrainian control near Donetesk – ran over a mother and child. The 7 year old girl was killed. There were ensuing riots. How did they know this hit and run was done by a soldier? Well, the fact he was driving a BMP (an Infantry Combat Vehicle) was a bit of a clue.

There are days when my impression of militias here are like the biker gang in Book of Eli.

Don’t think that my criticisms are all against the Ukrainian Army – these infractions seem to be much worse on the rebel side. If the US starts openly donating weapons, then Russia will respond. If you give some of these rebels a little red button – they will press it. Should Russia start overtly (as opposed to covertly giving humanitarian tanks) fielding these kinds of weapons to the rebels, then you’ll end up with a lot of rebels with shrugged shoulders going “oops?”

I asked the rebel fighters why they shelled the Mariupol City Center in January. The general consensus seems to be “We have absolutely no fucking clue. It was probably a mistake.” I’m also of the opinion (yeah, it’s just an opinion) that the rebels (or Russians) shot down the Malaysian flight last summer. If I’m right, I’m sure their answer would be exactly the same. What’s Russian for “my bad”?

A “mistake”. Someone tripped and accidentally released a gaggle of Grads to the center of the port city of Mariupol.

If the weaponry of war were limited by the capabilities and professionalism of those involved, then this war would be limited to sabers, sticks and stones.

Many of these “fighters” had no business ever picking up a gun. There are no “standards” across the board, but often just “the best you can get” from a kid who was given an avtomat (assault rifle) after only a few weeks of training… and some of that training seems to involve doing a lot of kung fu rolls to get up and down from behind concealment. I have no idea why.

This war will be won by whichever side can modernize and adapt. If they want to relive WWII, let them and their equipment stay there, while they do their live-round reenactment.

If they haven’t even adapted to the AK-47’s and Cold War tanks, we have no business giving them weapons of the 21st century.


  1. I actually feel sick to my stomach reading this, because it’s frightening. It’s frightening that this is how the leaders are allowing their people to participate in war, and it’s frightening that they have this attitude of ‘Oops, my bad’, with their care for the very people in the country who are dying as innocents being completely eliminated to nil. How does the UN, NATO, or even other countries step in to put an end to something like this, without causing more harm than good?

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