Michael's Dispatches

Military Options for Ukraine


28 March 2014


The Red Barbarian is massing on the Ukrainian border.  A hundred thousand Russian troops are said to be preparing to invade Ukraine.  Russians can easily prevail against the tiny Ukrainian military if Ukrainians stand their ground.  But a larger guerrilla war can be another story.  We easily beat back the Iraqi Army and masses of Taliban, only to face long, bloody guerrilla wars.

One hundred thousand troops were not enough for us in Iraq or Afghanistan, which each have populations of about 30 million.  Ukraine has about 45 million, and so if the estimates are right, Russia is showing up with about one soldier per 450 people.  How many are willing to fight is unknown.

The current popular belief is that there are no realistic military options to counter Russia.  The following words are not intended as an endorsement of action, or as an endorsement of the wisdom of taking military action.  This is only to mention that there are many available NATO military responses that do not include direct confrontation.  This is about proxy war.  One designed to severely punish Russia for stealing a country, and to damage Russia's military to help prevent other near term actions.

This is an example of a single type of action that is possible today which was not possible even ten years ago.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, I witnessed our use of GPS guided rockets, artillery and even mortars.  Combined with amazing real-time intelligence, the lethality of these new systems is like something from a Terminator movie.

Sliding down to the smallest scale, today we have 120mm GPS guided mortar rounds with a range of over four miles, with a first shot kill ability.  I saw these in Afghanistan.

If a mortar team can get within four miles of a target, it can wreak havoc day or night, even shooting over hills.

This is the important point: a team can do this without ever seeing the target, or even knowing what the target is.  The team only needs to be within range and have the coordinates, which coordinates they can get from many methods, such as a satellite.  They can get the coordinates and range from a map or from Google Earth.  The team can also receive a text sent by the USA, UK, Poland or someone else.  We can get the coordinates by using satellites or spies, as example.  Ukrainians supply the muscle.  We or they supply the coordinates.  The Russians supply the targets.

This capability should not be shrugged off.  We took thousands of incoming mortar rounds on bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Nearly all of them missed, but we also took thousands of casualties.  Yet if the Taliban had GPS guided mortar rounds, they would only need to know the coordinates of one C-17 aircraft to shoot one round and destroy 200 million dollars worth of airplane.  They would only need to know the location of our headquarters to put one round into the commander's office.  If the Taliban had this, we would have easily suffered many thousands more killed, and could not have parked so much of our Air Force in the open.  Everything important would have needed to be in bunkers.

Ukrainian mortar teams can be trained anywhere from Romania to Poland to Fort Bragg on the easy use of these GPS systems, and teams can be outfitted with secure communications systems.  They can be infiltrated back into Ukraine with their gear.  Infiltration is a big word.  They can just drive in.  Ukraine is their country.

Ammunition resupply can happen overland, via helicopter, airplane, parachute, or drone.  The mortar teams' missions would be simple.  They must only get their small systems within range of targets and then shoot.

For always-on radars, they would be easy to hit.  A parked train would be simple.  Night after night, countless mortar teams could each drop a few rounds which nearly always hit sleeping Russian troops.  The troops would know every night that there would be fewer comrades by morning.  Even a handful of mortar teams could kill or injure hundreds of Russian soldiers per week.

This capability would cause the Russians to spend enormous resources trying to kill the mortar crews, and certainly they would get some, and we would continue to train more.  Scaling this up,  GPS guided artillery rounds could be supplied with far greater standoff.  Of course the Russians would use counterbattery radar which would get the first shot.

Combining these and many other new capabilities with our real-time intelligence capabilities can make Russian aggression painful, expensive, and not worth it.  Other countries such as Moldova and Estonia may be next.

This is a simplistic scenario that could be greatly expanded to catch the Red Barbarian in a bear trap.

To repeat, this is not an endorsement that we should do these things, but I saw in Afghanistan that we now have the capacity to wage hybrid guerrilla-conventional combat with an effectiveness that the world has never before seen.

Of course the Russians might respond by supplying our enemies in other parts of the world with man portable surface to air missiles.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ray Riehle · 7 years ago
    Interesting thoughts. Not sure I like the idea of a generation of mini proxy wars with a bunch of people on all sides of the political spectrum armed with ranged explosives.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Steve Wright · 7 years ago
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/regime-change-in-ukraine-and-the-imfs-bitter-economic-medicine/5 74877

    MY - a friend told me about your FB page for the protest yesterday - great stuff - I found this article on the Ukraine and just wanted to post an article from global research about some stuff that is going on in the Ukraine - am not taking sides but this is not a real clear cut deal - same as here in Thailand... enjoyed reading your FB stuff about the protests ... keep up the good work..awesome...steve Rangsit TL
  • This commment is unpublished.
    George T. Sipos · 7 years ago
    One way or another, Putin needs to be sent a signal that his aggression will not go on unchecked by the international community. The nature of that signal is still up for debate, but the "sanctions" imposed so far by the Obama administration coupled with the under-reaction of the NATO allies and the European Union are far from making the Kremlin resident worried about continuing to democratically "annex" other former Soviet Union territories. [URL removed by webmaster]
  • This commment is unpublished.
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