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Theory VS Practice: Russian View At Modern Local Conflicts


Theory VS Practice: Russian View At Modern Local Conflicts


This post is based on a video of Razvedos YouTube channel (LINK) and comments to him released via Telegram (https://t.me/vladlentatarsky)

On April 24th, Razvedos published a new video, which gives an in-depth look at combat experience, and compares theory against practice.

Razvedos is a retired Russian special forces officer. In his video blog, he being a high professional provides overviews and analysis of various equipment, and methods and tactics of modern warfare.

The video is a conversation between a practitioner and a theoretician, in a way.

It looks whether the claims “theory without practice is dead” and “practice, without theory is unfeasible” hold any water.

The video began with an explanation that there is no “universal” type of experience, and that he (and anybody with an interest in the field) should be prepared to listen for hours upon hours to individuals with different kinds of experience.

He poses the question, what exactly is “combat experience”:

“The shelling began, the soldier laid in a ditch. Then the shelling ended, he climbed out of the ditch. Does such a fighter have combat experience?”

There is a fundamental difference between a soldier who suffered enemy fire and had to take cover, and a soldier who undertook specific combat missions and carried them out.

Several examples were given of various experience:

A man was in Chechnya, and for half a year he was deployed at a checkpoint, he saw no fighting, he never carried out any combat mission. But that man went to war, “went through it.” He “was there and he knows.”

He was shot at several times, from some unclear location in the brushes. His brother-in-arms went for a walk, and stepped on his own landmine. He pulled his brother-in-arms out, he saved him, and no was a result he has combat experience.

In terms of combat experience this person has two valuable lessons: how to serve at a checkpoint, and how not to aimlessly walk around in a warzone.

Another man was as a volunteer in Donbass (Eastern Ukraine), at first, he was, too, at a checkpoint. But then the line moved and he had to sit in trenches, and sometimes operate a mortar. He occasionally exchanged fire with the enemy over a distance of 1.5 – 2 kilometers.

This person teaches you what it means to live in a trench, while not being under intensive fire – but it can come at any moment.

And then there come people from Afghanistan, or Syria, and obviously their experience is incomparable, because there’s no two identical battlefields.

Furthermore, the given examples are the lucky ones. Some combat experience, such as that of some special operation forces “operators”, involves having to go into the mountains and hunt for terrorists.

What experience does he have? You suddenly come across the enemy, what you need to do, what equipment you’d need to even begin to carry out the mission, what to do in a close-quarters fight, at a distance of 30-50 meters, or even less.

And that person may have some valuable insight, for the situations he was in, and it is only conditionally valuable, in some situations.

Some of the people fighting terrorists tell of stories of the massive use of attack UAVs, so much as that an entire swarm attacks the squad at the same time, sometimes up to 20-30 drones. This is the situation in the low-intensity conflicts in the Middle East and throughout Africa.

Artillery isn’t even used, it’s all UAVs.

Unfortunately, the Russian Army has no such experience whatsoever. There is no experience of attack with the help of strike UAVs (as well as such UAVs themselves), thus there is little theory on how to effectively counter such a strategy on the battlefield.

And there’s nothing new in this, each fighter needs to have mastery over the weapons that his country has in its arsenal. Each soldier needs to undergo basic training, learn the vulnerabilities of the enemy, and so on.

Then they noted that the distances have increased, and in the infantry, there are units who possess weapons that allow killing the enemy over a long distance.

Therefore, it is necessary to additionally to train for the ability to effectively use:

  • RPG-7, as well as RPG-22 and 26;
  • GP-25, and other kinds of grenade launchers, too;
  • PK – any 7.62×54mmR general-purpose machine gun;
  • AGS-17 – and the ability to effectively operate a mortar, with the help of a sight;
  • SPG-9 – tripod-mounted man-portable, 73 millimetre calibre recoilless gun;
  • Utyos, NSV-12.7 – a 12.7mm caliber heavy machine gun;
  • ATGMs – as they’re not exquisitely expensive, and there seems to be an abundance of them, and they also come in handy;
  • Each infantryman must have the ability to detect mines, but also set mines. Defusing mines is the work for the sappers;
  • Everyone should be able to adjust artillery fire with binoculars and a map.

There’s no “top-secret” training regimen, that would teach an individual all of this. This is basic training, and can be given by a non-war veteran instructor.

In order to have the ability to learn all of this, an individual needs to have the previous knowledge that there is such a thing as top leadership in an army, that thinks of strategy, and that the army isn’t simply a sort of group created for funny outfits and parades, and that there is also a time for that, but the primary goal is war.

No army entered any war prepared specifically for the war that began. The exceptions are the IDF (but they solve local problems) and the German army in WWII.

Modern Battalion Tactical Groups and Mechanized Infantry are simply updated version of what the Waffen-SS came up for World War II.

The problem of the military is that they are preparing for the past war, and not for the future.

So, the instructor who fought in a war will pass on his combat experience applicable to a specific military conflict.

Because, one person’s experience may dictate that intense enemy fire means the enemy is moving backwards, while somebody from the GRU who hunts terrorists would know that intense fire means the enemy is drawing closer.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” combat experience, and there’s no wrong or right, it’s all situational.




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