The delusion of the HIMARS ‘sport changer’: American-supplied rocket system is efficient, but it surely will not deliver victory to Ukraine

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The rocket system is a lethal instrument – but it surely’s not the tonic Ukraine and its supporters declare it to be

As former US President Donald Trump proved earlier than he was banned by the platform, there’s all the time a tweet.

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“HIMARS have arrived to Ukraine. Thank you to my US colleague and friend @SecDef Lloyd J. Austin III for these powerful tools! Summer will be hot for Russian occupiers. And the last one for some of them.”

Thus wrote Aleksey Reznikov, the Ukrainian minister of protection, on June 23. He adopted it up with one other tweet on July 4, wishing the American folks a “Happy Independence Day” whereas thanking them for his or her continued assist for the Ukrainian trigger. Reznikov highlighted the position being performed by HIMARS, which he known as “a game changer at the front lines.”

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In the weeks following Reznikov’s announcement of the arrival of the US-made M-142 High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), the hype that accompanied the deployment of this new weapon, from each the Ukrainian and Russian sides, doesn’t seem to substantiate the minister’s declare that Kiev now possesses “game changing” expertise.

The harsh actuality of struggle is that any fashionable weapons system, when employed successfully, is able to inflicting casualties on an opponent.

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Igor Strelkov, a pseudonym for Russian nationalist Igor Vsevolodovich Girkin, whose previous employers embody the FSB (state safety service) and the Donetsk People’s Republic’s militia, reported among the ensuing destruction on his Telegram channel.

“Over the past five to seven days,” he wrote on July 10, “more than 10 large warehouses of artillery and other ammunition, several oil depots, about a dozen command posts and about the same number of personnel locations in our near and deep rear were hit. As well as several air defense and artillery positions. BIG losses in personnel and equipment have been suffered.”

Alexander Sladkov, a navy journalist and particular correspondent for Vesti VGTRK, a Russian tv channel, appeared to substantiate Strelkov’s data, posting the next on his personal Telegram channel: “Ukrainian missile and artillery have already struck several times at our decision-making centers. With results. The centers are not big, but important.”

Both Strelkov and Sladkov had been dismissive of Russia’s response for what they – appropriately – describe as a serious escalation on the a part of Ukraine and its US-NATO supporters.

A typical HIMARS battery, as employed by each the US and NATO, consists of 9 launchers supported by dozens of different assist automobiles. The US has, up to now, reportedly supplied Ukraine with eight to 12 of those techniques, that are manned by specifically skilled Ukrainian artillerymen who’ve undergone a three-week coaching course in Grafenwoehr, Germany, supplied by the US Army.

According to the Institute of War, a US-based assume tank, “Ukrainian forces are increasingly targeting Russian military infrastructure with indirect fire and US-provided HIMARS systems deep in occupied territory.” It concludes that “the increased ability of Ukrainian forces to target critical Russian military facilities with Western-provided HIMARS demonstrates how Western military aid provides Ukraine with new and necessary military capabilities.”

The Kyiv Independent, a Western state-funded propaganda outlet, reported that “by July 7, Russia had lost most of its key ammunition depots, and many of its smaller depots in occupied Donbas. Notably, many key targets as much as 50-80 kilometers into Russian-controlled territory have been successfully destroyed.”

Max Boot, a Moscow-born navy analyst who writes for the Washington Post, was so impressed with the efficiency of HIMARS that he wrote an op-ed during which he confidently introduced “To shorten the War, send 60 HIMARS to Ukraine.”

I imply, if eight HIMARS have introduced the vaunted Russan struggle machine to its knees, think about what may occur if Ukraine had 60? Wait, there’s a solution to that query. In a latest interview with the Sunday Times, Reznikov revealed that Zelensky “had ordered Ukraine’s military to retake occupied coastal areas which are vital to the country’s economy.”

Ukraine, it appears, is profitable the struggle towards Russia.

Except, in fact, it’s not. Not even shut. The notion that the HIMARS is a “super weapon” able to turning the battlefield narrative in jap Ukraine on its head is, merely put, pure nonsense.

Russia has, over the course of the previous three months, perfected the artwork of struggle with regards to defeating the Ukrainian navy. John Boyd, the well-known American fighter-pilot-turned-military theorist, coined an idea, referred to as the “OODA-Loop” (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) which represented the phases concerned in navy operations. The aspect that might grasp the OODA-Loop extra effectively than its opponent would “get inside their decision-making cycle,” forcing the enemy to function in a purely reactive mode, enabling the superior occasion to achieve victory.

Russia has received “inside the decision-making cycle” of each one among itsopponents throughout the navy operation in Ukraine, dominating the battle economically, politically, and militarily.

HIMARS doesn’t change this actuality.

The Russian navy, like all profitable navy group, is extremely adaptive – it have to be, to outlive on the trendy battlefield. The battle in Ukraine is in contrast to any skilled in fashionable occasions, requiring Russian navy leaders to adapt operational principle as outlined by doctrine to the demanding realities of the jap Ukrainian entrance. The indisputable fact that approximately 200,000 Russian forces can impose their will on over 700,000 Ukrainian defenders whereas reaching casualty ratios which might be decisively of their favor speaks to the truth of their OODA-Loop dominance.

At the top of the day, HIMARS – and different so-called “advanced Western weapons” – is however a instrument wielded by the identical actor who has been systematically defeated by the Russian navy. This is not going to change, whether or not Ukraine employs 4, eight, 12… and even 60 HIMARS techniques.

First and foremost, the survivability of the HIMARS is a essential issue – Russia excels at destroying Western-provided weaponry. The HIMARS footprint is a big one, with dozens of vehicles wanted to hold the ammunition utilized by the launcher. Vehicles want gasoline, and ammunition wants protecting storage – as do the launchers. This appreciable footprint creates a signature which is detectable by any succesful intelligence service – and the Russians have succesful intelligence providers. Indeed, the irony is that the bigger the variety of HIMARS introduced into service by Ukraine, the better the probability of detection and interdiction (i.e. destruction) by Russia.

Already, Moscow has claimed to have destroyed two of the preliminary 4 HIMARS techniques despatched to Ukraine (this assertion has been vehemently denied by each Ukraine and the US.) It additionally claims to have destroyed a number of warehouses the place HIMARS ammunition was being saved. The level is that Russia will not be a passive actor on the navy stage. The deployment of HIMARS was not a secret, and Russia had loads of time to organize for its look on the battlefield. This doesn’t imply Ukraine will not be inflicting casualties – HIMARS is a lethal weapon which, employed correctly, can inflict dying and destruction on its goal. According to Kiev, the system was utilized in a latest assault on a Russian command submit that killed a senior common officer (the Kremlin has not confirmed this consequence.)

Pro-Russian navy analysts say the effectiveness of HIMARS has been enhanced by way of a tactic which includes the Ukrainian navy firing off a number of salvos of long-range multiple-launch rocket techniques. This prompts Russian surface-to-air missiles to have interaction over the supposed goal. Ukrainian forces then fireplace off the HIMARS rockets, that are in a position to penetrate the overwhelmed Russian air protection community.

The Russian navy, nonetheless, is extremely adaptive. It gained’t take lengthy for an enough tactical reply to the HIMARS downside to be developed and employed. In the meantime, Russian navy operations proceed unabated all through Donbass, with Moscow’s forces persevering with their deadly domination of their Ukrainian opponents.

With all due respect, Aleksey Reznikov, HIMARS will not be a sport changer.

The statements, views and opinions expressed on this column are solely these of the writer and don’t essentially signify these of RT.

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