A Brief Primer on Current Russian Tactical Doctrine

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Commonly we see in drone footage “lone” tanks advancing on a position, leading to questions as to why such is done. The tactical picture for battles such as Ugledar and other locations consists of farmland “grids” of open field framed by tree lines.

Due to 24/7 aerial reconnaissance, satellite imaging, and extensive emplacement of mines, movement across these open fields can be suicidal. Whereas in traditional warfare a detachment could make its way across slowly and methodically, identifying and avoiding or destroying enemy mines, Russian forces can no longer dally about in these fields without soon being spotted by an enemy drone, and shortly thereafter coming under artillery fire from what is often a pre-sighted grid square.

As such, RF’s task is now to identify not only at what location a maneuver can be executed, but also the precise timing of when. They must be able to make a mad dash across an open field to the next tree-line, which will almost invariably contain an infantry entrenchment, and then withdraw armor back to the previous treeline until the enemy position is cleared.

Large groupings of armor are vulnerable to entering an enemy minefield or infantry ambush, being stuck in place out in the open as they work the problem, and then coming under artillery fire.

As such, tactical doctrine has adapted. Operationally the principles remain the same as from early last year: conduct recon, fire artillery, and repeat until nothing is moving anymore, then advance.

Tactically however, lessons have been learned.

Once recon/artillery loop has been completed, a single tank will make a mad dash across the open grid, reach the next tree-line, and begin suppressing what remains with heavy machine-gun and main-gun fire. One tank has a greater chance of clearing a path through possible mines and surviving artillery than grouped armor.

Once this tank has successfully made contact with the treeline, two BMPs with mounted infantry will follow in and deliver the assault and medical detachments, then the tank and transports will both withdraw back across the field to their originating position.

Of interesting note:

-RF infantry doctrine currently prohibits maneuver in open fields. All work is to be conducted only within these treelines.

-Occupation of enemy entrenchments is forbidden. They are pre-sighted for enemy artillery and may contain mines or booby-traps. Once the entrenchment is cleared, RF must either continue to “bound” up to the next treeline in this manner, or otherwise fall back to the original and use artillery to prevent enemy re-occupation of the cleared trench.

That is, one must decide when to take “one step forward, one back, then two forward” or to take “two forward” at once, then one back.”

-There are now dedicated medical detachments embedded at the company level. Assault detachments are not to evacuate casualties. They are to provide emergency trauma aid for the wounded, then leave them there and continue the assault up the trench and the remainder of the treeline.

The designated medevac unit moves into the entrenchment behind them and brings wounded out of the trench, friendly and enemy alike. As they follow in, the BMPs which dropped off the assault detachment will dash back across the field to the point of contact for loading of the wounded, then withdraw again.

When one sees a truncated video clip of a “lone” tank working a position, what they’re really looking at is a snapshot of a complex and coordinated multi-hour operation that runs armor back and forth across these open fields, which must take place at a precisely planned point and time to avoid becoming entrapped by enemy artillery.

This is perhaps the first novel tactical doctrine of 21st century warfare, borne in a flatland environment where traditional maneuver warfare is now dead, simply because the battlefield is under constant surveillance.

—Gleb Georgevich Gerasimov, Slavyangrad

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