Thursday, March 24, 2022

"Zoomer Conscripts" by Harold Watson

[Credit Bubble Stocks correspondent Harold Watson writes with his thoughts about the "Zoomer Conscripts" in the RUS-UKR war. Last year he gave us the report of his trip to Bentonville, AR.]

As one who is closely following the Russia-Ukraine War, I’m struck by the Russians’ deployment of poorly trained teenagers into the theater. Captured Russians burst into tears at the slightest show of warmth by Ukrainian civilians, who bring them tea and allow them to call their mothers back in Russia. Other reports show lines of Russian corpses along the highways following Ukrainian ambushes. Articles have portrayed the use of conscripts from poor Russian families and from Russia’s minority groups-Abkhazians, Khazaks and Chechens. Well-connected Russian youths have so far been exempted from mass conscription. Many of the captives are probably their families’ only sons, given Russia’s 2010 rate of 40 abortions per thousand women, the highest in the world. Owing to their poor diets and alcohol and drug abuse, these youths are among the unhealthiest in Europe.

It seems that Putin is reviving one of the ghastliest practices of Stalin’s Red Army in World War II; namely, the deployment of rear-guard echelons with orders to shoot any deserters. With already plummeting morale, compounded by hunger and frostbite, this decision by the high command is certain to lead to even greater panic among this young cohort. The old adage holds true in this case even more convincingly: wars are launched by old men and ravage the young.


CP said...

Russian satellite reconnaissance proved very limited, even though Russian survey space reconnaissance of Ukraine has been conducted since at least 2012, and detailed reconnaissance, in the interests of invasion planning, since mid-2021. A probable reason for this may be the insufficient number of satellites in the orbital grouping of the VKS and the overestimation of their technical capabilities. Indirect confirmation of this explanation is provided by the fact that the AFRF began buying additional satellite images of the territory of Ukraine and individual military facilities on the world market in April 2022. One of the visible failures of satellite intelligence is the inability to detect on time a significant volume of strategic railway movements by the UAF, which, in March 2022 amounted to three–four echelons per day.

The poor Russian battle damage assessment process made the Russian military highly vulnerable to deception, which has been consistent throughout the conflict. Early strikes on Ukrainian airfields, for example, destroyed many hangars. By photographing this damage and printing the resulting pattern on to sheets, it became possible to clear the rubble and erect covers for aircraft to return to the site, sheltering in positions that the Russians would confirm as destroyed. This led – somewhat amusingly – to the Russians debating whether Ukrainian fighter aircraft were operating from subterranean shelters at several sites. Repeated strikes on dummy air-defence positions also saw a considerable wastage of ammunition, while Ukrainian troops could confirm that sites were destroyed over the radio even when they were still functioning, causing Russian aircraft to ignore air-defence systems in their mission planning. The already-publicly reported use of dummy HIMARS (high mobility artillery rocket system) later in the war to lure Russian fires is indicative of the systematic use of deception to ensure survivability by the UAF, and it has proven widely effective.

Anonymous said...

Most Russians accepted Putin’s rule becoming more and more authoritarian as it also brought on a higher standard of living (compared to the ’90s) and returned Russia to the world stage in a leading role. Now, however, Russia is being humiliated by the Western world on a level not really seen since the First World War. The allegedly second-most powerful military in the world is incapable of taking a city that is 30 minutes from their border (Kharkiv), is getting humiliated by NATO resources and logistics and being expelled from international events, and to top it off, Russian families are continuously losing their sons, brothers, fathers, husbands, and so on in exchange for . . . a sliver of eastern Ukraine.

This puts Putin in an extremely difficult situation, as he needs major gains to make the losses the Russian nations has suffered worth it, but in order to have a chance of making those major gains, he needs to keep taking losses by continuing a war whose initial goals clearly failed. He can’t afford to stop, but he also can’t afford to keep going.

Anonymous said...

The Ukrainians have consistently been shown (by accounts from both side of the front lines) to be better equipped, better organized, better supplied, more focused on force preservation than the Russians. The Russians have consistently been trying to compensate by throwing more men at the problem. The Ukrainians have consistently been willing to trade land for force preservation in the expectation that they can – following de Saxe’s maxim – weaken the invader in the process sufficiently to take the land back afterward. This proved out experimentally at Kiev, Kharkov, and Kherson. The Russians have consistently showed a complete disregard for whether they were taking casualties or not.