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Video Above: The War in Donbas

By Kris Osborn - President & Editor-In-Chief, Warrior Maven

In the initial weeks of the war, Russia’s heavy missile and artillery bombardment of Ukrainian civilian areas revealed what appeared to be a deliberate effort to “terrorize” and even “torture” the Ukrainian people, by murdering children, exploding apartment buildings and indiscriminately destroying entire civilian neighborhoods.

What makes this all the more disturbing is the clearly known reality that Russia of course has precision-guided weapons and, should it wish to, could easily pinpoint military targets with surgical bomb and missile strikes. Therefore, the attacks on civilians appeared quite deliberate right from the start, given that Russia has the technical means to avoid that. 

Precision-guided artillery and GPS-guided land missiles, for example, have existed since 2007 when the Army fired Excalibur, a GPS-guided artillery shell able to pinpoint exact targets from 30km away. 

Russia's Precision Guided Munitions

Russia has of course its own arsenal of equivalent precision-munitions, which not only give commanders more options and enable for precise strikes, but they also offer the possibility of launching extremely effective attacks “without” having to kill civilians and destroy the infrastructure of the attacked country.

Now however, the Pentagon says Russia is in fact running out of precision munitions due to the overwhelming amount of weapons they have fired.

“There has been an effect on Putin's ability to restock and resupply particularly in the -- in the realm of components to some of his systems and his precision-guided munitions. I think that's about as far as I'm willing to go. They've already faced an issue in terms of replenishing their inventories because of components to some of those systems, and that's already had a practical effect on Putin,” a senior Pentagon official recently told reporters, according to a transcript.

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Video Above: Russia Has Precision Weapons & Could Avoid Attacking Children & Civilians

A lack of precision weaponry is merely one of a handful of now well-known supply problems encountered by the Russian military, which seemed rather ill equipped to manage the kind of conflict which wound up unfolding in Ukraine.

An inability to fire precision weaponry is also likely something which could greatly impede Russia’s ability to advance into and take over Ukrainian territory. They will be able to indiscriminately launch unguided artillery bombardment attacks, but will not be able to pinpoint high value Ukrainian targets such as headquarters buildings, command and control centers or troop concentrations with precision weaponry. 

This could make it very difficult to advance into well-defended Ukrainian territory. Russia will likely have little to no ability to disrupt Ukrainian command and control, being unable to hit critical targets with precision weaponry. 

Ukraine's 155mm Howitzer

155mm Howitzer

Soldiers assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, fire a M777 towed 155 mm Howitzer on Qayyarah West Airfield, Iraq, Aug. 10, 2019. The Soldiers conducted a fire mission to disrupt known enemy positions. As long as Daesh presents a threat, Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve remains committed to enabling its defeat. (U.S. Army Reserve photo by Spc. DeAndre Pierce)

Ukraine, however, is getting many new 155mm Howitzer artillery systems, which may arrive with an ability to fire precision rounds. If that is true, Ukrainian defenders will be able to use drones to see where approaching Russian forces are and attack them with precision. Such a dynamic or imbalance in precision strike ability could greatly favor the Ukrainians and force Russia to simply mass high-risk linear mechanized assaults on entrenched and well defended Ukrainian soldiers ready to defend their homeland.

Kris Osborn is the President of Warrior Maven - Center for Military Modernization and 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 Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President - Center for Military Modernization