Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from September, 2017

The return of the chemical warfare and other quirks from Russia

There have been couple of new features present in Russian military exercises this year. The first is the return of the chemical warfare. Not in the form of poison gases, but as a mean to mask friendly movements and actions from surveillance.
From the latest massive strategic nuclear forces drill in Kamchatka to the docks in the white sea and railway crossings in Ufa, the chemical warfare soldiers of the Russian army have been using their ARS-14 KM decontamination vehicles, that is based on the standard KAMAZ-43114 cross-country trucks, to lay thick screens of unspecified aerosols. These chemicals are designed to obscure western intelligence satellites and recon aircraft from observing the action below.

When combined with properly enforced security perimeters and smoke screens, that can be laid by specialized vehicles like the similarly Kamaz based TDA-3, Russian army is now able to add a further layer of confusion to it’s snap drills aka. maskirovka mobilizations. It will be next …

Sabotage and Spetsnatz threaten Ukraine

As the night fell, a large Ukrainian armed forces ammunition storage was engulfed in flames at Kalynivka. The fires spread rapidly across the facility that contained 188,000 tons of munitions. Luckily most of the compartmentalization features, such as bunkers and steel walls have managed to limit the damage to about 30 % of the munitions stored there.

This is the third ammunitions dump fire in Ukraine recently. All of these have been active facilities that are storing relevant and modern munitions and all have been feeding the Ukrainian Army units defending Ukraine against the Russian aggression. These are not some half-derelict old depots, looked after by the washouts the military wants to hide from sight.
The Ukrainian security service has claimed that the previous fires/explosions were Russian sabotage operations. The Balakliya dump was claimed to have ignited by an explosive device dropped from a Russian drone. Similar claims have already surfaced from the latest explosion.

The S…

Independent Kurdistan, born to die?

The autonomous Kurdistan Region votes enthusiastically for independence. A perfect world would welcome a new member into the family of nations, but the local powers in the Middle East are preparing to extinguish the flame of freedom before it even has a change to light up properly. Iraq, Turkey and Iran all strongly oppose the creation of a Kurdish state, as they fear that the Kurdish minorities within their borders would seek to follow the lead of the Kurds in Iraq.
While USA and many of the western countries are supportive to the Kurdish cause and have sent both arms and trainers to help the Kurdish Peshmerga’s to fight the Islamic State, it’s doubtful that they are willing to or even able to protect Kurdistan with either sufficient diplomatic pressure or military action.


The Iraqi parliament has ordered the government to seize all border crossings from Kurdistan to Iraq and to the neighboring countries. The Iraqi prime minister ordered the Iraqi security forces to move into the Ku…

Russia practices for an Iceland invasion

The Russian Northern Fleet has been very active lately, in addition to the usual landing drills close to the fleets home ports in the Kola peninsula, the fleet has been roaming the Russian northern coast with a landing squadron that carries a mix of marines and Arctic brigade specialists from the Alakurtti military base.
This unit has now made a landing drill at the remote island of Kotelny that sits between the Laptev Sea and the East Siberian Sea. The squadrons last supply point, where the crews and troops were allowed to rest and refit was in Dudinka. The distance from Dudinka to Kotelny is roughly 2000 km. This distance corresponds closely to the distance between the fleets home base in Kola and Iceland. The geography and the size of the islands are also very similar.

It is very important to test these kind of long distance naval operations in advance as the troops and the vehicles on board, must remain combat worthy all the way to the target. And the seas up north can be extr…

I’ll be back – The Russian Terminator resurfaces

After the disastrous experiences of the first Chechen war that led to the destruction of the Russian mechanized forces in the concrete canyons of the Grozny, Russia has been slowly developing a heavy infantry fighting vehicle for urban combat. The vehicle is based on the tried and tested T-72 main battle tank. The vehicle it’s designated BMPT, with a catchy nickname the “Terminator”.
The designs of the armored vehicles have traditionally been compromises between mobility, armor protection and fire power. In an urban setting the mobility aspect is morphed from pure maneuverability into the ability to cross and penetrate barriers and navigate the constantly changing landscape. The armor protection is more important as the fighting distances are shorter and the enemy is often able to engage from extremely short distances and even from above. In regards to the fire power, it’s often more important to be able to suppress the hostile forces rather than to be able to hit point targets at ex…

Zapad2017 day one: the Russian numbers do lie

The main military exercise of the Russian Western Military District, called Zapad2017, has kicked off today. The first lesson that can be extracted from this exercise is that the Russian numbers are not to be trusted.


Officially the exercise should be contained to Belarus, the Russian regions bordering Belarus and the Leningrad oblast surrounding the St. Petersburg. The Russian ministry of defense has announced that 12700 troops will participate in the exercise, with 5000 of them being Russian.



The reports of the troops being alerted for the exercise have been trickling from the official Russian sources. The first reports from the 13th of September stated that the two motorized rifle brigades in the Kaliningrad enclave participate in the exercise. Immediately after this, the 6th army in the Leningrad oblast joined in with its two motor rifle brigades, an artillery brigade and a rocket launcher regiment. Some of these units remained in their garrisons on heightened readiness.
On the 1…

Steel quartet: the Russian tank programs

The Russian military modernization program has two superstars that have been grabbing the headlines, the T-50 Pak-Fa 5th generation fighter and the T-14 Armata main battle tank. The Armata has been dubbed as a wonder weapon that will make all other main battle tanks obsolete. The published plan was to phase out all other tracked platforms and gradually replace them with Armata variants. The T-14 Armata was supposed to be produced in great numbers.
The delayed development of the Armata platform has been evident, not only by it’s failure in the Victory Day parade at the Red Square, but also by the fact that the advanced T-72B3 variant has been produced in large numbers and an additional upgrade package has been applied to it in 2016.

In addition to the T-72B3M, two other Russian main battle tank upgrade programs are currently underway and the overall number of the modernized tanks will rise to thousands. It is remarkable that the Russian armed forces are committing to four separate tan…

Local defense tested — Finland readies for the Zapad2017?

Local defense tested — Finland readies for the Zapad2017? Readiness unit prepares to storm a building. Finland has been busy building up the capacity to respond to the rapidly evolving hybrid threats of the modern world. The new military capabilities and the doctrines developed for the local troops, that I’ve written about earlier, are now being tested in a fresh round of local defense exercises that involve over 3500 personnel and last until 8th of September. Leopard 2A4:s are veing refuelled at a gas station. Note the simulators in the barrels The three exercises are organized by the major Army brigades. For the first time the new readiness units are used to support the local defense units manned with active reservists. The brigades have formed these readiness units from the conscripts serving for an extra six months and they are commanded by the professional officers and NCO:s. The reserve units were equipped and formed in the same manner that would be done in a real mobilization. S…

#Zapad2017: Russia threatens Finland and the Baltic states

#Zapad2017: Russia threatens Finland and the Baltic states

The eyes of the European military experts and leaders have been focused on the upcoming Russian Zapad2017 exercise for a while now. When compared to the hype the official Russian description of the exercise is rather underwhelming. Russia claims that the exercise will include slightly over 10000 Russian soldiers altogether with only 3000 entering Belarus to help the Belarussian army to quench an imaginary separatist uprising supported by the evil neighboring superpowers. It is most likely completely coincidental that these neighbors look awfully lot like Poland and Lithuania. So why is the west so worried? Most important reason is, that the scope of the preparations for the Zapad2017 seem to be quite conflicting to the official story. Russian army has activated a large contingent of reservists and specialists to create an infrastructure for the drill. These rear area troops include nearly 5000 men from the railway troops, the…