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February 13, 2016

It's Probably Nothing: Russia Needs Three Days to Conquer Estonia and Latvia

Assuming NATO has a week to detect a coming invasion, the alliance could deploy an equivalent of 12 maneuver battalions in the Baltic states.
This includes the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team rushed from Vicenza, Italy, but no main battle tanks. Poland — which has the largest tank force in Europe west of the Bug River — would be “assumed to be committed to defend the [Polish] national territory” and blocking Russian forces from moving south from Kaliningrad.
However, Russia could mass the equivalent of 22 maneuver battalions, including four tank battalions and large amounts of artillery from its Western Military District. Russia would also have an advantage in the air, with 27 squadrons of fighters and bombers compared to 18.5 NATO squadrons. While able to challenge Russian aircraft, the NATO planes could not quickly establish air superiority. Russian combat planes would then create “bubbles” of undefended airspace to launch “massed waves of air attacks.” | War Is Boring

Posted by gvanderleun at February 13, 2016 1:08 AM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

There is no *reason* why I know the things I am about to say.

Analysis of the article at WIB:
Like a bullet right in my forehead, I was struck by the fact that Russia never does "take" an entire country. Finland. Poland. Ukraine. Georgia. Crimea (a region of Ukraine). Even Germany! All partially taken. The eastern European countries where Russia did take every inch of territory were the exceptions. And, that after years of slow, laborious ooze of dumb masses of asiatic Soviet troops, driving stamped-hull glorified tractors with guns on them.
IOW, Russians are slow in warfare. The fact that they do achieve partial occupations is actually more of the standard in warfare throughout history.
As I said, they are slow. The idea that they would defeat the Baltics in a handful of days would represent a major change in their abilities. Still, that is possible. However, I contend that, while they have big numbers of tanks, they do not know how to fight them. Think about it: who, in history, has achieved lightning warfare with armor? Germany, America, and (weirdly) the NVA. That's about it. The NVA had huge irregular forces all along their invasion path, so that is anomalous. My point is that tank and lightning warfare is not for rubes. It is a skill set shared by very few. Iraq strike a bell? Saddam had a huge army of Soviet tanks; he buried them up to the turrets (literally) and deployed them as pillboxes. Sweet Mother!
OK. Let's pretend the Rooskies can or will go fast. I mean, the Baltics are small. I'll play that game.
The buck seventy-third (Sky Soldiers) are fully capable of stopping Putins' tanks. Don't ask me how. Ahem. Additionally, they would (in a perfect world) be supported by the All Americans and the Rangers, all of whom share the same tank killing prowess.
However, the Russians only need to bottle the Gulf of Riga (see your map), and maneuver on Vilnius. Of course, they will seize all border crossings. It's pretty farking easy!
So, while NATO arty and armor would be lacking, it'd be a blood-fight of aviation and infantry. Not unlike the Winter War (1940) in the strategic sense.
I'd say Russia has a long shot at winning this one. They'd need to prepare the human terrain in detail, and the critical thing would be, as always, what would Obama do to defend Europe in the event of a Russian mobilization around the Baltic?
Oh shit. Never mind anything I just said.

Posted by: Casey Klahn [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 13, 2016 11:51 AM

I did some TDY time with the 1/509th out of Vincenza. Imagine a thousand soldiers dropped from a series of C130's at 5000 ft. At 2000 ft they are above the trajectory of the tanks and they start firing 203 grenade launchers at them. In 1500 ft of float fall 1000 203's can blanket the field with 5 rds per soldier. I have personally blown half the turret off of an old Sherman tank with a single 203 rd. This could be done. If there was a will. I'm just saying. 35 years later it might be a whole different story.

Posted by: ghostsniper [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 13, 2016 12:43 PM

From May 2015
Russia Is Using Mobile Crematoriums to Hide Ukraine Dead

I don't think Putin could justify the cost of an invasion of Estonia and Latvia to the Russian people.
It was around this time last year that Putin had Boris Nemtsov shot to death in broad daylight in downtown Moscow because Nemtsov was going to expose proof to the Russia people that their army was involved in the invasion of Ukraine.

Putin swore publically that he would personally get to the bottom of who killed Nemtsov.
To date **crickets**

Coupled with the already damaged Russian economy, and the war in Syria, I don't think Putin could take the domestic political hit that would come from invading Latvia and Estonia.

Posted by: Speller [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 13, 2016 1:14 PM

I think the cover Putin got from his Little Green Men op was so the world would stutter for a brief time and his invasion could take hold. Only the daft and idiotic didn't see through that.
At the time, I called for one (One!) artillery tube of the Ukrainians to blow a hole in a Russian Black Sea Fleet ship in dock in Sevastopol. The whole fukkin thing would've gone up in smoke, and Putin would be sorting tobacco in Siberia now.
The longer you wait, the more momentum Putin builds. His people have backed him, and the human side is propelling his rape of SE Ukraine.

Posted by: Casey Klahn [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 13, 2016 1:49 PM

And why is that of any concern to the US tax payer?

Posted by: bilejones [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 13, 2016 5:49 PM

bilejones trumps everybody

Posted by: ghostsniper [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 14, 2016 10:15 AM

Wargaming these scenarios is great fun, but the one thing missing from all of them is exactly why Russia would do this.

If any of this was considered likely, I doubt the USAF would be trying to kill off the A-10s which were purpose-built for just this sort of thing.

Posted by: SteveS [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 14, 2016 10:40 AM

We should defend Europe. For one thing: NATO. For another, who will we trade with after Europe goes to hell? The idea of a republic is to have free men everywhere stand against tyranny. Not in every little case; in the large scenario. Sure, Europeans are stupid politically, and are unwilling to defend themselves. We are damn close to that attitude ourselves!
I believe we should have defended Ukraine. Not having done this, we now face a spiraling out of control situation. Will it get better if we just hide under the covers? No.
And back on the topic of the article, I half expect Poland to drive against a Russian invasion of the Baltics, but the scenario has them standing fast at home. The Poles are hard corps - they'd come in against Russia because they know what happens next if they don''t, and they have a chip on their shoulder.

Posted by: Casey Klahn [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 14, 2016 12:43 PM

"We should defend Europe."

What's holding you back?

BTW, the constitution nullifies itself with it's very first word, "We...".

Nobody gets to speak for me.

Posted by: ghostsniper [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 14, 2016 7:43 PM

I did my time in the service; all peacetime thanks to a strong military, robust economy, our WW II legacy, and Pres. Ronald Reagan. BTW, I got in the same year that South Vietnam went down the toilet: 1975. Now, my wish is that armchair strategists (I am a little better than an armchair analyst, but only just - I did attend schools for this shit at higher levels) would simply consider military history, and the principle of Initiative in war.
Sometimes war is the answer, especially when you want to avoid the mega war that would be WW III. Just as an illustration, many historian-minded analysts always wonder why we fought in Italy from 1943-1945. The answer is you keep the enemy engaged; you hold him by the nose. It's simple, really. Not to have the initiative is to cede it to the enemy.
I see Russia bombed a hospital today, and I fully expect the libs to blame that on Bush. This is some sweet situation we are in! It ain't pretty, either.

Posted by: Casey Klahn [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 15, 2016 12:10 PM

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