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9000 Tons of Steel: Russian Tank Drills in the Urals

After a flurry of rather disinformative “Tank Carousel” news from Russia the latest reportage from the Russian armed force tank exercise is much more interesting. At the beginning of August the handily named 90th Guards Vitebsk-Novgorod twice Red Banner Tank Division held it’s first divisional sized combat and live fire exercise at Cherbakul in the Chelyabinsk region.
The 90th division, that is stationed in the Sverdlovsk and Chelyabinsk regions, was founded in 2016 and is one of the heaviest hitting Russian formations around. It has a similar structure as the 4th Kantemirovskaya Tank Division that is part of the 1st Guards Tank Army.
The 90th Tank Division consists of the following units: •Headquarters •6th Guards Lvov Tank Regiment  •80th Tank Regiment •239th Guards Tank Regiment •228th Motorized Rifle Regiment •400th Transylvania Self-Propelled Artillery Regiment  •Anti-Aircraft Regiment •30th Separate Reconnaissance Battalion •351st Separate Engineer Sapper Battalion •33rd Separa…
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The Russian ”Tank Circus”

The Russian media has published several articles about the latest round of live fire drills by the Russian tank forces. The first brief mentions caught my attention as they described a new tank tactic based on the experiences of the Russian expeditionary force in Syria.

The details about the new tactic were scarce but there were mentions of continuous movement and a steady barrage of main gun fire. On 4th of July, the RIA published an in depth article about the 20th combined Arms Army’s field training of the new tactics (Translated to English by Sputnik)

The “Tank Carousel” is simply a drill in which a tanks of a formation, be it a platoon or a company, move around a set perimeter firing the from vantage points or openings in a berm and then move off to safety while another one moves in to the same spot to fire. 
This does allow the unit to maintain sustained 125 mm tank gun fire at a target area. Another part of the said tank formation would be hiding further back camouflaged and s…

Joint drills in the north

Two major international military exercises are currently happening on the shores of the Gulf of Finland the Siil2018 and Arrow18. The Siil 2018 is the main exercise of the Estonian Defense Forces. This multinational exercise is focused on testing the Estonian capability to defend its territory and receive international assistance to its small but effective fighting force.
The previously light infantry oriented Estonian Army is rapidly mechanizing itself with K9 SPG:s and CV90 IFV:s. The reservist based army is supported by a rather large and extremely well motivated Kaitseliit home guard.

The initial phase of the Siil2018 is a mobilization test, that is a crucial part of a reservist army’s defense operation. After the forces are assembled the exercise will turn into a force on force drill, where the international element together with the 2nd Estonian Brigade will train to retake a region overrun by hostile forces. This international element comprises of NATO allies and Finnish comba…

Israeli strikes on Syria, success on many levels

On May 9th the Iranian Quds force that belongs into the Revolutionary Guards Corps launched a rocket salvo against the Israeli forces in the Golan heights. The IDF had anticipated the move and placed several Iron Dome batteries to protect the region, so the attack did very little damage and several rockets were shot down.
There have been conflicting reports on whether the weapon used to attack Israel was a Russian built BM-27 Uragan or an indigenous Iranian Fajr-5.
The Fajr-5 system is an indigenous Iranian 333 mm artillery rocket that is mounted on Mercedes-Benz 2624 trucks in 4-tube launchers. System has a maximum range of 75 km and rather abysmal accuracy with a 3 km CEP. Combination of a 900 kg class conventional warhead and the low accuracy makes the FAJR-5 more of a terror weapon than any kind of precision battlefield instrument.

The Israeli Air-force had apparently been waiting for a provocation as the resulting counterattack against the launchers and the Iranian military infra…

Russian asymmetry, nukes and missiles for diplomatic measures

Until this weeks kaleidoscopic scramble across Russia’s the western frontier, the Russian armed forces have been following a largely routine schedule since the rolling readiness checks of the October 2017 and the massive Zapad17 exercise.
The recent flurry of activity started with the snap drills of the reconnaissance, artillery and combat engineering units, that are commonly associated with the spearhead formations of the Russian army. Alone these drills are not very remarkable and even when grouped like this, they shouldn’t cause a major alarm with the Western defense planners.
When the entire Strategic Rocket Force (RVSN), ie. the Russia’s ground based ICBM force was alerted and the mobile TEL:s rolled into the vast forests things started to look slightly suspicious. Especially when the readiness check of the nuclear forces coincided with the expulsion of the Russian diplomats by UK, EU and USA.


Simultaneously with the RVSN, the majority of the Russianair defense and anti-ship …

Two new divisions for the Russian army

Latest news is that Russia will expand both of the remaining motorized rifle brigades of the 58th Combined Arms Army into full strength divisions. This would mean that the army would have three full divisions of mechanized forces with heavy artillery and missile support. At the same time when the brigades are being upgraded, “Other units of the 58th Army” will be moved from their traditional posts in the Northern Caucasus further into west.

There is no schedule for the transition, but as Chechnya is relatively calm under the iron grip of Kremlins pet attack dog Kadyrov, the already full strength 42nd Motorized Rifle Division, that was expanded in 2016, could begin its relocation at a moments notice.
Not that long ago the Russian armed forces transited largely to a brigade structure, very similar to that of the western armies. Next iteration of this concept were the Battalion Tactical Groups that are agile independent units, with integral indirect fire components and high operational …

Echoes from 1918 - From the Finnish Civil War to Donbass

The social stability in Finland had steadily deteriorated as the newly independent nation lacked both police and military forces and the Russian army still had a strong presence within the Finnish borders. Both socialists and conservatives had begun to build their own security forces during the previous summer.
To solve the situation, that had already escalated into sporadic violence and acts of terror, the Finnish Senate, with a mandate from the elected Parliament, declared in 25th of January1918 that the Civil Guards would become the Senates army under the command of the General Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, a 30 year veteran of the Imperial Russian Army. The Reds immediately refused to obey the order to stand down their military forces. The Civil Guards began to disarm the Russian garrisons and used the captured weaponry to arm their forces.
During the 27th of January 1918 the Red Guards issued a full-scale mobilization within the areas they controlled and declared that they were st…