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May 29, 2022·edited May 29, 2022Author

I was going to add at the end that, as an infantryman, I’d always want armour with me too 🙂

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May 29, 2022Liked by Dr Robert Lyman MBE

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.

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Your last sentence is a good point Windy!

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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.

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True. Isn't it fascinating that in addition to self-propelled artillery the Ukrainians want... lots of tanks!

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May 29, 2022Liked by Dr Robert Lyman MBE

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.

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May 30, 2022Liked by Dr Robert Lyman MBE

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.

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May 29, 2022Liked by Dr Robert Lyman MBE

Your article makes perfect sense to me Dr Lyman.

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May 29, 2022Liked by Dr Robert Lyman MBE

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.

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May 29, 2022·edited May 29, 2022Liked by Dr Robert Lyman MBE

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...

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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?

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May 29, 2022·edited May 29, 2022Author

Certainly. The tank is no longer the only means of killing other tanks but it still has an important role in battlefield capability, for the moment. Mr Page does not make the argument, however, somewhat overstating his case.

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May 29, 2022Liked by Dr Robert Lyman MBE

The aircraft carrier also springs to mind but then we build new ones… seems very odd to me.

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It does depend on what you want your aircraft carriers for. I don't take the 'they're a very big target' argument, as anything is a target. Its how you use the capability within the entire system that matters. The blue water navy concept means that you need a means of projecting naval forces on the other side of the globe: only aircraft carriers can do that. Funnily, every country in the world that wants to project force wants aircraft carriers...

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May 29, 2022Liked by Dr Robert Lyman MBE

I get that, my concern is protecting as well as projecting and we haven’t kept pace with small escort craft or subs. Perhaps the expectation is all about interoperability with other nations as we go forward. Makes sense in many ways.

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Yes, agree completely

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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.

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Fascinating! Yes, I do agree. Its interesting that the demise of armour has been predicted for a long time (Basil Liddell-Hart describes some of these in the early 1920s) but the argument about utility stands out. It may be that we are on the cusp of a revolution, with truly autonomous tank hunting drones showing us the way into a new future, but its wrong, as Page does, to argue that Ukraine is definitive on this point.

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May 31, 2022Liked by Dr Robert Lyman MBE

Thanks Robert. I bet you’re familiar with the British Army’s Project Mercury? Some great ‘Futures’ thinking, although will, inevitably, be dominated by the big OEMs; but we shall see…… https://www.army.mod.uk/our-future/mercury/

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Go outdoors near Perranporth

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