The Minimum Viable Navy
What is the bare minimum performance the US needs from its Navy to counter China?
The Minimum Viable Navy
Navies are hard to relate to for many reasons. Naval battles are rare, and ships are strange beasts that differ from land vehicles. Debates can go off the rails pretty quickly. In my latest blog post, I write about what jobs the US Navy HAS to accomplish in a war with China rather than what is nice to have.
There are only a few potential flashpoints. Taiwan and the South China Sea are the biggest concerns. We can use geography to see what needs to happen instead of imagining pie-in-the-sky scenarios.
How the Russian Army Adapts
Rusi has another report updating us on the Russian Army’s tactics. Here are a few things I found interesting:
Russia is short on its primary artillery (tubes and ammo), but substitutions are here.
They were indiscriminately firing in massive barrages. Now they spend much more time working on correcting fire to maximize their tubes and ammo. They’ve also started using a lot more 120mm mortars. Mortars fire 8-10 km instead of 25 km, but they are still deadly and have a lot of mobility to avoid Ukrainian counter-battery fire. Russia can replace and sustain mortars easier than traditional artillery.
Russian Electronic Warfare is Still Good
These units stop drones, intercept Ukrainian tactical radio signals, and impact GPS. Ukraine should be able to localize jamming and target it with artillery, but they must lack some crucial ingredients. Rusi suggests that Russian air defense is proving more effective in these static battles, limiting what weapons Ukraine can use.
Russian commanders have also increased their lifespans by using physical telephone lines to communicate with their forward positions and reduce their electronic signatures.
Ukraine is Losing 10,000 Drones per Month
Drones are useful enough that Ukraine expends tens of thousands of them. But they aren’t so powerful that having tens of thousands will win you a war. Finding targets for artillery is still the primary use case. You have to wonder if Ukraine is too reliant on drones. They might want more technologies like artillery radars and electronic snoopers that can locate Russian artillery, air defense radars, and jammers.
The Main Takeaway
Russia has adapted. Their forces are well suited for a static conflict like the one over the muddy winter. The Russians will be off balance again if Ukraine can create a breakthrough with their summer offensive. Russian air defense will be out of place, many commanders will get their communications cut, and artillery coordination could suffer. The band of militia currently rummaging through Belgorod is an example of Russia’s slow adaptation time.
I think the Ukrainians will advance this summer using fancy NATO equipment. But they have to rout the Russians to get back Crimea, and the Russian strategy focuses on preventing strategic breakthroughs. I suspect NATO’s desire to give Ukraine modern weapons will fall as they get closer to pre-2022 borders. And most donors will revert to giving them the bare minimum needed to hold territory if their offensive is a dud. The upcoming offensive isn’t their last chance to reclaim the 1991 borders, but it is the best.