As the Russian invasion of Ukraine unfolds, the scale, scope and ambition of the attack appears to be what many feared, a multi-pronged, expansive and quite possibly multi-domain operation.
What will this now unfolding invasion look like? Initial reports suggest attacks began with long-range missile strikes on Ukrainian airports and other military targets, and CNN aired video of armored vehicles enter into Ukraine from Belarus. This would suggest that indeed a large scale ground invasion is now underway.
Russia Invasion of Ukraine
What will this now unfolding invasion look like? Warrior spoke with a decorated combat veteran, Mr. Scott Rutter, who was in charge of an Infantry Battalion Task Force during Operation Iraqi Freedom. His units engaged and destroyed the Iraqi Republican Guard in some of the now famous confrontations near the Baghdad airport. Also a Gulf War Veteran, Rutter is a long time student of the Russian military dating back to the Cold War era and is familiar with Russian weapons, tactics and more recent innovations.
"It's a hybrid version of what we studied in the 1970s and 1980s which is the blitzkrieg combined with an actual force march from Russians coming across the border. So far, this time, it's a little bit different, it will likely involve seizing key intersections and moving artillery and 152 millimeter artillery in order to support those BTR 80s (Russian armored vehicles) that we've seen on the news driving on the road in order to gain that key terrain. This will help the force ready to spearhead with tanks ...T-80s and T-90s," Rutter said.
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Russian ground forces are likely to leverage support from Russia's considerable arsenal of short and medium range ballistic missiles to fortify a ground advance with long-range fire.
"As things go on, the thing to watch in the future is to take a look at the ballistic missiles, tactical ballistic missiles at how the operational echelon moves forward. Obviously, Putin has the tactical echelons moving forward with artillery and not a lot of air defense, probably but supplementing that with additional resources in order to gain fire superiority," Rutter said.
Javelin Anti-Tank Missiles
Without a large heavy mechanized force to confront advancing Russian mechanized units, the Ukrainian military will need to embrace different kinds of tactics, which Rutter said will need to rely on much more than Javelin Anti-Tank Missiles. Rutter's unit used Javelins against Iraqi tanks, and the weapons can destroy tanks, however an impactful defense against invading Russian forces will need other key elements as well.
"We actually had the Javelin during the assault of the Republican Guard at the airport, very, very effective weapon system, but like any weapon systems going against combined arms maneuver, ... it has to be enhanced with artillery and it has to be enhanced with minefields. Javelin on its own, against a penetrating Russian force, may be doomed for failure, it needs to be combined with artillery, and even close air support,"
Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master's Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.