Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2,900 explosions in a day. Heavy artillery and tank fire returns to the front lines in Ukraine.



Have we forgotten about Ukraine?  There should be no doubt that Russia is conducting unconventional warfare in Ukraine but on a much grander scale.  They are exploiting a resistance movement (even a fabricated one) but employing military and non-military instruments of power and from a military perspective not relying solely on special operations forces but a selective use of its conventional military power.  This is why I say that unconventional warfare does not solely belong to special forces or even the military writ large.  (http://warontherocks.com/2013/08/unconventional-warfare-does-not-belong-to-special-forces/)

We should pay attention to Nate Freier and his Army War College writing team and their report called Outplayed: Regaining Strategic Initiative in the Gray Zone, http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/download.cfm?q=1325 and these words:

Joint ground force commanders—but especially the U.S. Army—will benefit from a thorough reimagining of the potential of expeditionary forces and operations. As it ap­plies to the gray zone, U.S. ground forces need the capability to deploy in large numbers to perform a wide range of missions: enable and support allies, partners, and sister U.S. joint forces; build foreign partner capacity; counter adversary unconventional warfare (UW) campaigns; and perform more traditional offensive and defensive operations (of­ten against hybrid opponents). This requires examining and developing capabilities to defeat A2AD and rapidly delivering ground capabilities on short notice and limited advanced planning. 

This study found UW to be a final area of unique ground force vulnerability for the United States and its partners as they assess and contend with gray zone challenges. As currently defined by American Joint military doctrine, UW is the collection of activi­ties that enable the overthrow of a government through proxy actors in overtly denied areas.  U.S. UW vulnerability emerges in both an offensive and defense context. Offensively, UW provides U.S. decision-makers with a baseline capability for covert degrada­tion of an adversary’s control over contested territory. Defensively, Russian and Iranian UW efforts are currently presenting U.S./partners thorny challenges in Europe and the Middle East. In both instances, U.S. forces are increasingly unfamiliar with the associ­ated ground force demands that might result.

For example, SOF UW competency has atrophied with the substantial counterinsur­gency and counterterrorism demands of the last decade and a half. For their part, GPF have never been required to understand UW as a concept. Improvement is essential on both counts. 

 A sharper offensive UW instrument will be an important tool for pressuring active gray zone revisionist powers who themselves employ UW to aggressively undermine U.S. partners. Likewise, deep understanding of UW on the part of GPF forces will en­able them to engage in defensive UW activities to generate greater resilience among the same at risk partners. Finally, a more robust ground force UW capability that can understand, prosecute, and defend against it, employing the widest set of military and non-military tools, may require a new military competency in “political warfare.” This specific focus would enable both conventional and SOF to grasp the underpinnings and requirements necessary for prosecuting offensive and defensive UW activities against sophisticated gray zone actors.



Excerpt:

While Russia continues to support the separatists, the West has buttressed the Ukrainian war effort through training programs and nonlethal aid that includes vehicles, counter-artillery radar, body armor and night-vision equipment. The most recent defense bill passed by the U.S. Congress allocated an additional $50 million for Ukrainian military assistance in 2017, bringing the total to $350 million.

2,900 explosions in a day. Heavy artillery and tank fire returns to the front lines in Ukraine.

The Washington Post · by Thomas Gibbons-Neff · December 20, 2016

A soldier of the separatist self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic walks in a field near the line of contact with the Ukrainian army at the so-called Svitlodarsk bulge in the Luhansk region. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)
An early morning artillery barrage started the latest bloody scrap in eastern Ukraine Sunday as Russian-backed militants and government troops clashed near the town of Svitlodarsk.
A spokesman for the Ukrainian military, Col. Andriy Lysenko, said that five soldiers were killed and 16 wounded during the day-long battle and that Russian-backed separatist forces had attempted to break through government lines. It was the largest single loss of life for Ukrainian troops in five months.
A resident in a nearby separatist-controlled town, who asked not to be identified for personal security reasons, dismissed the idea that any separatist troops had attempted to attack and said the fighting was merely “rocket-tennis” between the two sides.
Lysenko said the Russian-backed fighters suffered about 50 casualties, but that figure could not be independently confirmed.
The site Censor.net, quoting an unnamed Ukrainian defense official, said that four bodies held by Ukrainian authorities were not claimed by the militants, suggesting that the deceased were either Russian soldiers or citizens.
An international monitoring group documented almost 3,000 explosions in the region Sunday — up from 700 on Saturday and 100 on Friday. The majority of Sunday’s detonations were recorded around Svitlodarsk. Despite multiple cease-fire attempts and efforts to remove heavy weapons from the front lines, the day-long bombardment, which included tanks, rocket artillery and howitzers, laid bare the shortcomings of international efforts to quell the conflict.
The fighting sent the residents of Svitlodarsk to their basements, and around nightfall, as temperatures dipped below freezing, the town lost power and gas. Utilities were restored around midnight, according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has observers on the ground.
Social media accounts that follow the conflict indicated that shelling in the area started again Monday night.
Since summer 2014, the front line in eastern Ukraine has been mostly static, and both sides have been relegated to exchanging artillery and machine-gun fire across a heavily mined no man’s land. Svitlodarsk is near the border between the two breakaway territories known as the Luhansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic and represents a Ukrainian-controlled bulge along the front line.
In talks brokered by France and Germany, Ukraine and Russia agreed upon a series of cease-fires known as the Minsk Agreements to stop the conflict, but both sides continue to clash daily. Earlier this month, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg encouraged allies to maintain economic sanctions on Russia until there is a lasting cease-fire.
While Russia continues to support the separatists, the West has buttressed the Ukrainian war effort through training programs and nonlethal aid that includes vehicles, counter-artillery radar, body armor and night-vision equipment. The most recent defense bill passed by the U.S. Congress allocated an additional $50 million for Ukrainian military assistance in 2017, bringing the total to $350 million.
It is unclear how President-elect Donald Trump will approach the conflict. His pro-Russian statements have put both NATO allies and the Ukrainian government on edge.
Since the conflict in Ukraine began in April 2014, nearly 10,000 people have been killed and more than 20,000 wounded, according to a United Nations report in June. More than 1.6 million Ukrainians have been internally displaced by the conflict.

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