Retired ADF Major General breaks down Russian invasion, identifies missing capabilities

By: Defence Reporter

Recently retired Australian Army Major General Mick Ryan took to Twitter today to break down Russia’s military strategy, identifying three capabilities of the Russian military that “we have yet to observe”.

Since the outset of the invasion, rumours regarding Russia’s military capabilities have set the internet aflame. But four weeks into the conflict, evidence seems to paint a humbling picture for the Russian Armed Forces.

According to the Institute for the Study of War’s daily Ukraine update for 23 March, some Russian forces in Ukraine have begun digging in and fortifying their positions – “indications that they have gone over to the defensive.”

A surprising development for an invading force that expected a swift victory.

Major General (Ret’d) Mick Ryan, who throughout his long and distinguished history in the ADF commanded the 1st Reconstruction Task Force in southern Afghanistan, the Australian Army’s 1st Brigade and the Australian Defence College, took to Twitter this morning to outline some surprising omissions in Russia’s military strategy.

Throughout his 25-post Twitter explanation, Ryan identified three missing areas in Russia’s military strategy that raises some eyebrows: few (observable) cyber operations, poor Russian command and control structure and a lack of human-machine teaming.

Indeed, such omissions seem surprising to the former ADF commander given Russian General Valery Gerasimov’s push over the last decade to modernise and reform Russia’s military.

“Gerasimov foresaw Russia developing new and old means of warfare to achieve the aspirations of this new military strategy. What is fascinating, at least to me, is what aspects of their new forms of war we are NOT seeing to a significant degree in their invasion of Ukraine,” the retired ADF commander said.

Ryan continues to list of the three missing capabilities.

“First, cyber. Gerasimov describes how “new information technologies have enabled significant reductions in the spatial, temporal, and informational gaps between forces and control organs.” But it’s not obvious, at this point, that Russia has been successful in this area.”

Earlier this week, Defence Connect reported emerging theories regarding how mobile phones have provided Ukrainian forces with an information edge: not only in demonstrating and amplifying battlefield wins to buttress the morale of the country’s fighting population, but also providing military commanders with unforeseen command, control and situational awareness of the battlespace.

The former ADF commander explained that Russia’s inability to cripple Ukraine’s telecommunications capabilities with a robust cyber operation has been “one of the greatest shortfalls” of Russia’s invasion to this point.

However, in his analysis, Ryan acknowledged that the most vital characteristics of cyber warfare include anonymity and secrecy. Therefore, vicious cyber operations could be waged without commentators realising.

“Second, we are not seeing unified command and control from the Russians. Gerasimov notes that ‘differences between strategic, operational, and tactical levels, as well as between offensive and defensive operations, are being erased.’ This implies a more unified approach,” the retired commander continued.

He explained that the disunity between the several different campaigns currently waged by Russia evidence this the poor overall command structure.

Further evidence can also be seen among senior military leaders who have died throughout the conflict, suggesting that they forfeited their command and control responsibilities to favour visiting threat environments.

The following deaths have been reported:

  • Lieutenant General Andrei Mordvichev, Commander of the 8th Combined Arms Army
  • Major General Oleg Mityaev, Commander of the 150th motorised rifle division
  • Colonel Sergei Sukharev, Commander of the 331st Guards Parachute Assault Regiment
  • Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, Chief of Staff for the 41st Army
  • Colonel Andrew Kolesnikov, Commander of the Guards Tank Kantemirovskaya Division
  • General Andrei Sukhovestky, Deputy Commander of the 41st

“A final thing we might have expected to see more of, given the amount of reporting on Russian capabilities, is human-machine teaming. The Russians have dozens of programs for autonomous recon and combat vehicles in the air, sea and land domains,” the former Major General finished.

Citing the lack of unmanned ground vehicles and the late adoption of autonomous UAVs onto the battlefield, Ryan expressed his surprise considering the emphasis of the Russian military to develop leading technological warfighting capabilities.

The former ADF Commander’s observations come as the world grapples to understand Russia’s slow advance.

In early March, online sleuths took to social media to argue that a combination of poor vehicle maintenance and badly made Chinese tyres had stalled Russia’s advance to Kyiv, forcing military vehicles off of muddy fields and onto roads. This had the result of Russian-tank-induced traffic jams on major Ukrainian highways.

In February, many questioned whether Russia would invade at all as it would signal to the world that (despite the bluster) Russia actually possesses substandard military technology, and that Ukraine’s irregular warfare capabilities would create a sustained insurgency that would simply be intolerable for the Russian government.

 

Government earmarks $875m for nationwide ADF base upgrades

By: Charbel Kadib

Military bases across the country are set to benefit from a major investment in infrastructure upgrades as part of the Commonwealth government’s latest pre-election commitment.

The Commonwealth government has announced it would invest $875 million in 2022-23 for upgrades and sustainment activities at ports, barracks, airfields, working accommodation, training areas and communication stations across the country.

The investment, which forms part of the Defence Estate Works Program, will support a total of 234 projects, including:

  • 79 projects in NSW worth $298 million;
  • 41 in Queensland worth $166 million;
  • 34 in the Northern Territory worth $112 million;
  • 29 in Victoria worth $122 million;
  • 28 in South Australia worth $106 million; and
  • 23 in Western Australia worth $71 million.

In announcing this latest $875 million pledge at RAAF Base Pearce in Perth — which comes just days after $244 million was committed for upgrades to RAAF Base Curtin — Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said it represents the biggest investment in the Estate Works Program since the contract began in 2014, adding it would support the $38 billion push to expand the Australian Defence Force by 30 per cent over the next 18 years.

“The Defence estate is an important national asset and is an integral part of enabling Defence to meet its force capabilities,” Minister Dutton said.

“Just weeks ago, we announced our plans to grow the size of the ADF across all the Army, Royal Australian Navy and Air Force, and we know that if we are to attract additional personnel, we need to ensure our facilities are safe and fit for purpose.”

This nationwide overhaul of defence infrastructure also follows a visit from a US delegation, led by US Indo-Pacific Command’s Director for Logistics and Engineering, Brigadier General Jered Helwig, which has toured bases and facilities in Australia to advance commitments announced following the Australian-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) 2021.

These included the establishment of combined logistics, sustainment, and maintenance enterprise to support high-end warfighting and combined military operations in the region.

This latest $875 million commitment is tipped to generate approximately 1,660 jobs, with a focus on creating employment opportunities for local communities.

Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the works would create unique opportunities for local defence contractors.

“These facilities are often in regional parts of Australia, meaning small and medium businesses in these areas get the chance to play a vital role in the upgrade and maintenance of our Defence facilities,” Minister Price said.

“For many of these businesses, winning work on these projects will result in new jobs being created.

“With our $270 billion investment in Australia’s defence capability, we are going to continue to drive job growth for years to come.”

The projects are scheduled to be released via AusTender in the coming months.

This is the latest of a number of pre-election Defence announcements from the Commonwealth government.

Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a $4.3 billion investment in the development of the first large-vessel dry docking facility at Henderson Shipyard in Western Australia, and a pledge to construct a new east coast naval base.

 

Veterans Affairs Minister Andrew Gee threatens to resign on eve of budget over funding shortfall

By political reporter Matthew Doran and Hugh Hogan

Veterans Affairs Minister Andrew Gee has launched a stunning attack on the federal government, revealing he was on the cusp of announcing his resignation from cabinet because he was being refused funding for his department.

Key points:

  • Andrew Gee announced he had been moments away from quitting the front bench
  • He says his department is working to process 60,000 veterans’ compensation claims
  • He has asked for $96 million to clear the waiting list

The clearly emotional Member for Calare called a press conference in Orange on Saturday, announcing he had convinced the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce to find more money to process veterans’ compensation applications.

Mr Gee said there was a massive backlog of 60,000 unprocessed claims within his department, labelling it a “national disgrace”, and said he had asked for $96 million to clear the waiting list by the middle of next year.

When he raised the matter with senior members of the government earlier, he was told he would only get about a quarter of that money in next Tuesday‘s federal budget.

Mr Gee said Barnaby Joyce and Scott Morrison had commited to allocating money to the program.(ABC News: Hugh Hogan)

Mr Gee spoke to the Deputy Prime Minister on Saturday morning.

“I told him that the media was waiting outside the office, and as courtesy I was letting him know as my leader that I was going to resign from cabinet,” he said.

“That followed quite a bit of activity, and the end result is that the $96 million to help process and clear this backlog of 60,000 claims is now going to be forthcoming.

“I accept that in politics and in life you have to make compromises, but my personal integrity is not up for compromise.”

Mr Gee said the “budget process” had closed ahead of the Tuesday economic plan being revealed by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

But he said he had a commitment from Mr Joyce and Prime Minister Scott Morrison that the money would be allocated to the program, even if only a part of it appeared in the budget papers.

He laughed, somewhat nervously, when was asked how he felt knowing it was his threat of resignation on the eve of an election which forced the government’s hand.

“It may not turn out to be the best career move, and it is a slightly unorthodox way of fixing budget wrongs, but we appear to have got there,” he said.

“If we don’t get there, then again, I won’t hang around.”

The minister said it was simply unacceptable how many claims were outstanding.

“Some have been there for years. They range [in time], depending on what claims they are,” he said.

“They’ve just been banking up for a long time.”

Mr Gee, who holds the safe Nationals electorate of Calare on a margin of 13.3 per cent, denied he was merely posturing.

“These are Australians we should be helping,” he said.

“They sign up to put their lives on the line for our country.

“They don’t do it for the money, they do it because they love their country.

“Our country’s got to love them back. It’s as simple as that.

“That’s why I was going to I was going to pull the pin today. There’s no two ways about it.”

A Sense of Humour at the UN

An ingenious example of speech and politics occurred recently in the United Nations Assembly and made the world community smile.

A representative from Israel began, “Before beginning my talk, I want to tell you a story about Moses.”  When he struck the rock and it brought forth water, he thought, “What a good opportunity to have a bath!”  He removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock and entered the water.  When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had vanished.  A Palestinian had stolen them.”

The Palestinian representative jumped up furiously and shouted, “What are you talking about – The Palestinians weren’t there then.”

The Israeli representative then smiled and said, “And now that we have made that clear, I will begin my speech.”

DETAILS OF PETER (SLIM) HARVEY’S FUNERAL

I have been informed that Slim’s Funeral Service will be conducted at 3pm (QLD Time) on Monday the 28th of March 2022 by Integrity Funerals at 18 Tonga Place, PARKWOOD.

There will be a get-together after the Service at the Runnerway Bay Leagues Club.
Members intending to attend Slim’s Funeral are requested to contact President Linton on [email protected] for catering.
Many thanks, I hope we can have as many members as possible attend to give our old mate a good send-off.

The number that puts Vladimir Putin at risk

The Russians are not winning the war in Ukraine and they may even be losing.

Neither option is good for Russian leader Vladimir Putin, which he surely knows well, both as a veteran of the Cold War and as a student of Russian history.

The last time the Russians lost a war was in Afghanistan during the 1980s. After a quick victory when they invaded the nation in 1979, the Soviets faced a countrywide insurgency that wasn’t particularly effective at first because the Russians completely controlled the airspace.

In an echo of some of the dilemmas that President Joe Biden faces today, the Reagan administration feared a possible nuclear confrontation with the Soviets and was initially reluctant to arm the Afghan rebels with anti-aircraft weapons.

By 1986, reluctance among President Reagan’s officials to arm the Afghan resistance with weapons that might actually help them to win the war had evaporated. The CIA armed the Afghans with Stinger anti-aircraft missiles that ended the Soviets’ air superiority and greatly increased the Afghans’ capacity to inflict significant losses on Soviet forces on the battlefield.

Realizing they were losing the war, the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in February 1989 and installed a puppet Afghan communist government that collapsed three years later, after the Soviet Union had itself expired.

The official Soviet death toll during the Afghan War, which lasted more than nine years, was around 15,000 soldiers. It is therefore quite telling that the Russians may have already lost as many 15,000 soldiers in just one month in Ukraine, according to estimates given to CNN by senior NATO officials.

When the Soviet military departed Afghanistan in 1989, the countries and populations of Eastern Europe — then under varying degrees of the Soviet yoke — took note. If the feared Soviet army couldn’t win a war on its own borders against Afghan guerrilla forces, what did it say about its ability to control the fates of East Germany, Hungary and Poland?

The failure of the Soviet war in Afghanistan hammered a giant nail into the coffin of the Soviet empire. It’s not an accident the Berlin Wall fell just months later, opening up East Germany to the West.

This was arguably the hinge event in Putin’s adult life. He was then a KGB officer stationed in East Germany. When Putin sought instructions about what he should do from a Soviet military unit, he was told, “Moscow is silent.” Since then, Putin has been trying to reverse Moscow’s silence with the goal of restoring as many elements of Russia’s former glory as he can.

Just as the Soviets were undone by their loss of the Afghan War, so too was the Romanov monarchy undone by its military defeats in the early 20th century, which ended the Romanovs three-century reign over Russia.

Under the feckless leadership of Tsar Nicholas II, Russia’s disastrous performance in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 was the first time in the modern era that an Asian power had defeated a European one. The loss of the Russo-Japanese war was soon compounded by Russia’s defeats during World War I. Those losses, along with other factors, led to the overthrow of Nicholas II in 1917 and the subsequent rise of the Soviets.

By contrast, Joseph Stalin emerged victorious from World War II — albeit at a tremendous cost of an estimated more than 25 million Russian dead. Known in Russia as “the Great Patriotic War,” this victory helped allow Stalin to continue being, well, Stalin — a murderous dictator.

An edition of The Economist earlier this month declared “The Stalinization of Russia,” which is surely Putin’s goal. But it’s hard to be neo-Stalinist if you are a loser — and losing Ukraine isn’t out of the question for Putin.

This, of course, raises the possibility that US officials keep warning of, which is that backed into a corner, Putin might use chemical or biological weapons.

The use of nuclear weapons by Russia was also not ruled out by Putin’s chief spokesman, Dimitry Peskov, when he spoke to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

Putin’s war of choice in Ukraine could lead him to a point where he uses weapons of mass destruction. And even then, he may still lose the war.

This was surely not how Putin dreamed of restoring Russia’s glory, a dream that is fast turning into ashes — just as Putin has reduced the Ukrainian city of Mariupol to ashes.