Armies that don't have good logistic systems will usually fail - at least until they sort out their logistics problems.
When I was in the Australian Army, one of the exercises we had to undertake for promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel was aptly titled "exercise jugular vein". It was a complex logistical exercise where you had to work out how to resupply - over extended lines of communication - an advancing army division that was engaged in conventional conflict in barren terrain. The heaviest items to transport forward were water, engineer stores, fuel, and ammunition.
In the North African desert in the Second World War, the British Army lost many undamaged tanks to Rommel because they had run out of fuel. Rommel refuelled them from his more efficient logistics system, repainted them with German insignia, and made use of them against the British. It was confusing for Allied forces because in low-light conditions it was difficult to tell whether British tanks were on our side or were part of Rommel's force.
The Australian Army has generally been able to rely on British and American logistic support on combat operations since that war, and it's likely we'd be struggling to support ourselves in a protracted conflict without US support.
The latest example of poor supply chain planning has been provided by the Russian army in Ukraine. They've had ongoing problems with running out of fuel and food rations. This has made them much more vulnerable to attack by Ukrainian forces. One widely circulated video clip shows a Ukrainian farmer pulling up alongside a Russian armoured vehicle that had run out of fuel and offering to give them a tow - but only back to Russia.
Something else that's noticeable in Ukraine is that some of the Russian invasion force (which seems to be mainly young conscripts) aren't particularly aggressive. For example, they've stopped their vehicles rather than run over unarmed civilian protestors. That's likely to change as Russian soldiers see their comrades being killed and wounded.
The slow progress of Russian forces in Ukraine must be very frustrating for Putin, who probably expected to have Ukraine done and dusted within a week.
In Ukraine, we've seen many images of disabled and burning Russian armoured vehicles, including tanks. Tanks, being tracked, lack the range of wheeled armoured vehicles, as well as being gas-guzzlers, requiring continual refuelling. They're also vulnerable to anti-tank weapons if not protected by infantry. It's not yet clear whether the tanks are being destroyed by the Ukrainian Ground Forces' stock of old Soviet anti-tank weapons or whether the Ukrainians are using newer weapons.
Modern tanks are very expensive items (at around $10 million each) and it may be prudent not to rely on them in future conflicts. Both infantry anti-tank weapons and aircraft-based weapons are relatively cheap and effective against tanks. During the American occupation of Iraq, insurgents used explosively formed projectiles (made in Iran for under $100) that could disable the Abrams tanks we and the Americans use.
One of the Armed Forces of Ukraine's success stories (according to local media) has been the use of drones to surveil and attack Russian forces.
As part of its military modernisation program, in 2019 the Ukrainian Ground Forces acquired 12 Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones. [Turkey developed its own military drone program after the US refused to supply them with US drones.] The Ukrainian Navy ordered another six, delivered in 2020. Subsequently, Turkish and Ukrainian officials announced the establishment of a joint venture to produce 48 TB2s in Ukraine.
Since April last year, TB2s have been in regular use to monitor the separatist conflict in the Donbas region. In October, an armed TB2 was used for the first time; to target a separatist artillery position. It destroyed a Russian D-30 howitzer and halted the bombardment of Ukrainian troops near Hranitne. Since then, TB2s have been in regular use against the invading Russian columns. Ukraine's Ministry of Defence credited the TB2 with "eviscerating Russian tanks and armour in their first use in a major conflict".
The effectiveness of military equipment being used in the Ukraine conflict will be closely monitored by defence technologists on both sides of the conflict. This is probably the first time that Western military equipment has been used against Russian equipment since the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s.
Military technology is less useful for subjugating major population centres like Kyiv. There, subjugation is more effectively achieved by cutting off electricity, water, fuel, food and basic services, including media - but it can take weeks to months to force a city into submission.
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