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Military lessons of the Donbass from the point of view of Americans
Material posted: Publication date: 16-09-2017
Western military analysts, regardless of political developments and the international situation, closely watching as the fighting in the Donbass from a technical point of view: what are the weapons used, tactics used, what can we learn from the units of the LC and the DNI, that can oppose them and what we can learn from the lessons of what is happening

War in the region is seen as a test site, "laboratory", which, though on a small scale, but gives an idea how to look for local clashes of the future between technologically developed opponents, but without the use of nuclear weapons.

Recently, the American military publication Defense One has published a collection of articles on the subject. According to the guide's author, Patrick Tucker, presented material designed to help the next generation of Western military leaders to prepare for confrontation with Russia and get an idea about the "growing threat to peace and security of the West."

The publications coincided with the resumption of the debate in Washington on whether to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons and some military support from the West is ready to provide Kiev.

With military-technical support of the West Ukraine until recently was in big trouble. You can select the most resonant cases.

A byword began deliveries of the Ukrainian military outdated body armor that the US army stopped using in the mid-naughties.

The scandal has caused the supply of at least 200 Humvee, which turned out to be junk. The Washington Post wrote that Kiev sent the Humvee was produced in the 80-ies, some of the machines were plastic doors and Windows, which did not provide for any protection, some burst tyres after several hundred kilometers.

Ukraine has also been supplied counter-battery radar AN-TPQ-36 Firefinder production companies Northrop Grumman and Thales Raytheon Systems, but how then wrote the newspaper the Wall Street Journal, radars Q-36 specially modified and reduced the range of their actions so "that the Ukrainian military could not pinpoint volleys from the Russian territory and did not provoke the Russian military." The first two radar-Q-36 price $ 10 million each were delivered to Ukraine in November 2015. The decision on such modifications has raised the IRE of Republicans, who then accused Barack Obama of holding "policy pandering" to Putin.

Another story is the supply of 72 reconnaissance drones AeroVironment Raven RQ-11B Analog. Advisor to the chief of the General staff of the Armed forces of Ukraine Natan Khazin told Reuters that the data is analog, the drones were useless in the conditions of warfare in the Donbass: they were intercepted and jammed, they were given the position of the Ukrainian forces, the validity of the charger was short-lived and, in fact, supplied the drones could not perform intelligence functions. In the end, the Raven RQ-11B Analog quickly removed from the front lines of the unsuitability and the associated risks.

And Patrick Tucker, and many other international experts are the following points that, in their opinion, should pay special attention Western military planners.

Cyber attacks

23 Dec 2015 cyber attack on the energy infrastructure objects of Ukraine led to massive power outage in the war-torn country. Remained without electricity for about 220 thousand consumers. The national security Agency, the US helped Ukraine with the investigation and came to the conclusion that during the attack used a virus BlackEnergy, which computer system was infected back in may 2014. Here is the list of cyber attacks on Ukrainian objects is quite extensive. According to Western analysts, cyber attacks go hand in hand with actual combat in the Donbas.

American experts in the field of cybersecurity also believe that prorossyiskih hacker group for the past 17 years and attack the financial infrastructure of the US and US allies, and in recent years, the Baltic countries and Ukraine in particular, but to prove their connection with the Russian structures is impossible.

It is assumed that, after running cyber operations in the Ukrainian system, in the case of a local military conflict between developed powers, or in his anticipation of the United States will have been subjected to massive cyber attacks, the source of which cannot be accurately specified. The answer will have only to assemble themselves in cyberspace. However, it is not clear who exactly.


Assistant to the President for national security, Lieutenant-General of the land forces Herbert McMaster said that after two years of the war in the Donbas, it became clear that Russia does surpassing foreign analogues artillery systems and that if the Americans meet in battle with the Russians, then the American soldiers will find a cold sobering shower.

According to the General himself, winning the missile duel long range only opens the door, and then have to walk through that door and meet the enemy face to face. The Americans somehow forgot about it, relying on its military superiority. Donbass shows that this will not be easy.

McMaster believes that after the experience of the Donbass, the United States must develop systems of volley fire, learn to use massed artillery, to come back to cluster munitions, rather than relying only on precision strikes. Military expert Phil Karber also draws attention to the use of thermobaric munitions. He says that with their help in three minutes in the Donbass was destroyed two mechanized battalion of the Ukrainian army and the Americans better be ready to use their forces.

It is unclear how to deal with Russian tanks

McMaster also praised the various systems of a dynamic and active protection of tanks T-90. In the collection referred to, including, and effective combat performance of complex optoelectronic protection "Blind" in the fighting. According to the General, the US urgently needs to catch up in this area. After the Donbass in the United States are actively considering the use of Israeli systems for the protection of tanks and systems company Raytheon.


The electronic warfare in the Donbas was a revelation for Americans. Interference, suppression, interception, scanning, evaluation of sources and the subsequent artillery strikes, disruption of drones — all this is actively used against Ukrainian forces. Phil Karber also referred to the systems for remote disabling of ammunition fuses of the Ukrainian artillery, making the shells in a simple "blocks".

Put the Ukrainian army on Americans radios with his Harris encryption device gave a special "handwriting" of the signal, stand out from the crowd, which allowed to calculate the coordinates of their respective owners and strike. What worked in Afghanistan or Iraq, is not working with the enemy, armed with electronic warfare.

The analysis of this sphere of warfare in the Donbass has caused a radical rethink by the Pentagon developing and applying its own tactical electronic warfare.


No less surprising for the foreign experts has become a large-scale use of drones during the conflict. Especially as a tool for targeting for the artillery strikes. The same General Herbert McMaster said that to Donbass he never in his career did not raise his head up to see who's flying as always was sure that this — the U.S. air force. Now the situation has changed. Drones-gunners remind the General aviation of the First world war.

As a result, General McMaster is confident that although the technical side of modern warfare and the wars of the future are impressive, they are not a guarantee of victory. It is not a panacea. In the end not so important, will the Americans to supply Kiev modern drones, radars and anti-tank systems. Everything will be decided by the ability of the opposing forces, namely the people on the land, conquer territory, defend, and hold that requires will and smooth logistics. In the meantime, the Donbass has become an object lesson for the West is how quickly the war changing technology and technology war.

Ilya Plekhanov


Tags: strategy , USA , tactics , Ukraina

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