Russian trucks say about its military’s struggles in Ukraine

Russian trucks say about its military’s struggles in Ukraine

Think about coosa valley news modern warfare and it’s likely images of soldiers, tanks and missiles will spring to mind. But arguably more important than any of these is something on which they all rely: the humble truck. Armies need trucks to transport their soldiers to the front lines, to supply those tanks with shells and to deliver those missiles. In short, any army that neglects its trucks does so at its peril. coosa valley news

Yet that appears to be exactly the problem Russia’s military is facing during its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, according to experts analyzing battlefield images as its forces withdraw from areas near Kyiv to focus on the Donbas.

Photographs of damaged Russian trucks, they say, show tell-tale signs of Moscow’s logistical struggles and suggest its efforts are being undermined by its reliance on conscripts, widespread corruption and use of civilian vehicles — not to mention the huge distances involved in resupplying its forces, or Ukraine’s own highly-motivated, tactically-adept resistance.

“Everything that an army needs to do its thing comes from a truck,” says Trent Telenko, a former quality control auditor for the United States’ Defense Contract Management Agency, who is among those parsing the images for clues as to how the war is going.

“The weapon isn’t the tank, it’s the shell the tank fires. That shell travels by a truck,” Telenko points out. Food, fuel, medical supplies and even the soldiers themselves — the presence of all of these rest on logistical supply lines heavily reliant on trucks, he says. And he has reason to believe there’s a problem with those supply lines.

Canary in the coal mine

Telenko describes one recent photo of tire damage on a multimillion-dollar mobile missile truck, a Pantsir S1, as the canary in the coal mine for Russia’s logistical efforts.

As such an expensive piece of equipment, he would have expected its maintenance to be first-rate. Yet its tires were crumbling just a few weeks into the war — what Telenko refers to as “a failure mode.”

If trucks are not moved frequently the rubber in their tires becomes brittle and the tire walls vulnerable to cracks and tears. Telenko says the problem is common when tires are run with low inflation to cope with the sort of muddy conditions that Russian forces are facing in the Ukrainian spring. coosa valley news

For Telenko, who for more than a decade specialized in maintenance problems in the US military’s truck fleet, the condition of the Pantsir S1 is a revealing mistake.

“If you’re not doing (preventive maintenance) for something so important, then it’s very clear the entire truck fleet was treated similarly,” he says.

Telenko’s theory has echoes of US World War II Gen. Omar Bradley’s famous quote that “amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics.” And he is not the first to have detected a lack of professionalism in Russia’s military, which includes hundreds of thousands of conscripts.

In one notorious incident early in the war, a 40-mile (64-kilometer) convoy of Russian tanks, armored vehicles, and towed artillery became stalled 19 miles (30 km) outside Kyiv, bogged down according to Britain’s Ministry of Defense not only by Ukrainian resistance but “mechanical breakdowns” too.

Last month, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told CNN’s Don Lemon that Russia had made “missteps” and “struggled with logistics,” while on Saturday a senior US defense official said the Russians had still not solved “their logistics and sustainment problems” and would be unable to reinforce their forces in eastern Ukraine “with any great speed.”

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