Harrumphing into my cornflakes
I was going to add at the end that, as an infantryman, I’d always want armour with me too 🙂
Excellent article Robert, and I think you have voiced what everyone was thinking or knows. Combined arms work, and the Ukrainian army has received western training which was always going to help their home turf advantage. My only gripe is that too many people are telling the Russians where they are going wrong.
Well put. The tactics employed by Russia at the start of the war were indeed a mistake. However, it seems they are adjusting, fighting more to their strengths in the east now, backed by their artillery. The tanks will be back, and Ukraine needs to avoid falling into a conventional war of attrition.
I have no military service however I have read a fair bit of quality military history (mostly SWW and the Vietnam War) and even I knew that Russian incompetence was responsible for the losses inflicted upon their armoured units. And I wonder about the quality of the training provided to the troops. And the quality of the vehicles. And the tactical ineptness of the Russian army did surprise me too. One wonders how the Russian army would fare if confronted with a genuine peer opponent, for example NATO. Perhaps the Russians would fight a different war.
Spot on. Every profession, military or otherwise, requires mastery of the tools. But in the case of the military, failure to master your own arms invites the high probability that your opponent will master you.
Your article makes perfect sense to me Dr Lyman.
An excellent article, the demise of the tank has been stated many times. The first after WW1 so that’s nothing new. Tank’s like all weapons will evolve has different threats appear. NLAW has been effective because of no tactical air superiority or the lack of the intelligent use of the Russian infantry to protect the Tanks. If anything it’s the lack of Modern military theory and intelligence across the three levels of strategic, operational, and tactical within the Russian Army, Navy and Airforces is the story, the tactical miss use of their tanks is the outcome not the reason.
Worry not Robert! I had heard this too from some quarters since 26 Feb this year. And it's understandable. Seven times the number of Main Battle Tanks the UK has in service have been destroyed by Ukrainian forces in just three months, so one can be forgiven for seeing them as obsolete. It's HOW they are fought that is the key as you have rightly outlined above, combined arms fighting. I was lucky enough to be at the 75th Kermit Roosevelt lecture this year and Gen. McConnell, the current US Army Chief of Staff addressed two points. The shrinking of the UK army even more post IR - "If you haven't got a big stick make sure it's a damned sharp one" he said. And as to tanks being obsolete he said "As an infantryman, going into a built up area, I'm gonna really really want tanks with me." This I guess then, is the ground truth.
Then there's the design of the MBT - fundamentally, even if the tank isn't at war establishment, keeping ready-use ammo like a cartridge in the turret makes it very vulnerable to the NLAWs who are shooting down into the turret as it grazes over the top.
Lastly, of course, Lewis Page's article was mostly a rehash of his 2006 book - which would make his views somewhat obsolete too...
Do most major weapon systems not have their time on the battlefield and the capability moves elsewhere? The battleship comes to mind. Perhaps the crewed combat aircraft is in its terminal phase?
Thanks Robert. A great read. It reminded me of a conversation we had over 30 years ago at Cranwell. I’d arrived at RAFC Cranwell via cricket, college, temping, but most helpfully, the TA (big shout out for 1WESSEX). Our fighter pilot lecturer was telling us about the primacy (his definite view) of air power in winning wars. I wasn’t so sure! The conversation stopped when I asked, very respectfully, which important wars were ever won with us not, eventually, controlling the ground with boots on the ground and our tanks parked on our enemies’ lawns? Clearly, the answer is a joint and combined Ops answer but for me fast armour is definitely here to stay. Thanks again Robert.
Go outdoors near Perranporth