Blog AnalysisRussia Caucasus Ukraine

The war in Ukraine, interesting lessons

(B2) The conflict in Eastern Ukraine is “ interesting » in terms of feedback. This slightly forgotten conflict was devastating in terms of human losses. And the 'defeat' of the Ukrainians, in the first year of war 2014-2015, faced with troops theoretically weaker in number, contains more than one lesson according to the French military

Ukrainian troops during Exercise Saber Junction 2018 (credit: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine)

« It is an interesting conflict for us, with dimensioning characteristics, both in the field of capabilities and in that of operational readiness. », indicated General Pascal Facon, head of the CDEC (command doctrine and teaching center) of the French army before French deputies at the end of September (1). “ We must be prepared to engage in a conflict approaching the high intensity and characteristics seen in eastern Ukraine. »

A tank battle

« These battles opposed 30.000 Ukrainians, deploying around 2000 armored infantry vehicles and 600 tanks, facing 2000 separatist fighters equipped with armored vehicles, often recovered from their opponents »

  • Teaching: " it is an armored battle that justifies today's reflection on the post-tank Leclerc, the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) program ».

A large number of injured

In February 2015 " by the time the front stabilized, there were 5300 dead and 12 wounded ". In less than a year of fighting. “ This exceeds the casualty rates of our current operations. »

  • Teaching: " we must, in the light of this feedback, prepare ourselves to manage a large number of injured ».

Low training + low will to fight

The Ukrainian forces had a " limited training ". " Too short training times and unsuitable individual equipment – ​​backpack, shoes, personal protection, non-existent first aid kits, unsecured transmissions – initially affected their will to fight. »

  • Teaching: " in the first stage of endurance, there is therefore the soldier's equipment and the training from which he has benefited. But there is also moral strength ».

A degraded image of the armed forces

In Ukraine, " the Ukrainian forces seem to have been surprised by the events in the field of mobilization. 50% of the expected staff did not show up. […] The sometimes degraded image of the armed forces among the population has had an obvious influence on its effectiveness. This state of affairs pushed young people to join volunteer battalions whose total volume reached 7000 men, rather than entering a mobilization process. ».

  • Teaching: " the importance that should be given to a society's resilience factors, to its ability to cultivate a spirit of defence, its "warrior spirit ».

Weak forces

The Ukrainians " probably experienced difficulties in measuring that an action qualified as the fight against terrorism could drift into a locally high-intensity conflict ».

  • Teaching: " in view of recent conflicts, agility, considered from the angle of adaptation to change and from the angle of the ability to reconfigure, is emerging as an essential factor ».

No point having big resources if you don't have operational maintenance

Interesting fact : " 'on paper', the Ukrainians had indisputable material superiority with 2300 tanks, 3800 armored vehicles and 3100 artillery pieces, but, due to the storage conditions of their equipment and inappropriate maintenance procedures, the availability operational technique (DTO) did not exceed 60% at the start of the fighting ».

  • Conclusion: “ the mass, without maintenance in operational condition (MCO), is useless ».

The power of ground-to-ground and ground-to-air artillery

“During the clashes, two regiments were 70% destroyed within six minutes by multiple rocket launchers. »

  • Teaching: " we have rediscovered the power of ground-to-ground and ground-to-air artillery, the mass effect that this weapon provides in high-intensity confrontations and the permanence of fire that it provides ».

Arrange backlights

In Eastern Ukraine, “ the separatist ground-to-air artillery literally prohibited, by destroying Ukrainian aircraft, the free disposal of airspace, which is essential to ensure the support of ground troops »

  • Teaching: " High-intensity warfare highlights the importance of denial of access and the need for means to circumvent it to gain access to maneuvering space. The power of indirect fires also relies on capabilities in the field of counter-battery radars and in the fight against drones, which constitutes the first stage of the fight to evade the opposing counter-battery. ».

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(1) See the meeting report of the Defense Commission of the National Assembly of September 25

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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