The Slow Flow of the Special Military Operation Explained

Some time ago Lada Ray made an excellent audio report on the reason of the slow flow of the military operation:

And a couple of days ago I saw that Russel Bentley posted a series of posts on his Telegram channel that explain well the reason for the slow progress of the Special Military Operation in Ukraine (and also why it is a SMO, and not a War). By the looks of it, the English text is a translation from Russian. I am reposting the text here in full and unaltered.


Why so slow?

The liberation of Donbass is not going as fast as we would like. And probably it seems especially slow to those who are waiting for it the most. Unbearably slow.

One of the reasons for the low speed of advance is the numerical superiority of the enemy and the well-fortified positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which were built over 8 years.

According to the classics of military affairs, the offensive should go with numerical superiority. Preferably 3 times, but 4 times is better.

Russia involved in the special operation about 200,000 fighters. Together with the people’s militia and the reservists of the republics, the total strength of the NWO forces probably reached 300,000.

The authorized strength of the Armed Forces of Ukraine at the time of the start of the special operation was 280,000. Together with the National Guard, national formations, territorial defense units and mobilized, the number reached 600-700 thousand.

Thus, Russia is conducting a special operation in conditions where the enemy has an approximately 2-fold numerical superiority.

According to classical military science, it is simply impossible to carry out an offensive operation with such a balance of forces. This is against all rules.

However, Russia not only conducts an offensive operation with a numerical superiority of the enemy, but also conducts it quite successfully, albeit slowly.

At the moment, the cities of Mariupol (pre-war population of 500 thousand), Severodonetsk and Lisichansk (100 thousand each), Popasnaya, Volnovakha, Liman (20 thousand each), Raisins (50 thousand), Gorskoe, Zolotoe, Svetlodarsk, Svyatogorsk and a number of other settlements.

The total “pre-war” number of residents of the liberated cities and villages of Donbass is almost a million people.

This is quite a lot, considering that many of the liberated cities were turned by the Armed Forces of Ukraine into continuous fortified areas, the battles in which were literally for every house. And this is not a figure of speech – that’s exactly what happened in Popasnaya. And in a number of other cities and villages too. One house after another had to be vacated. Each had a firing point, a trench nearby, and civilians often remained in the houses.

The terrorist tactics of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, when the Ukrainian troops did not allow residents to leave the houses where the firing points were set up, specifically to deprive the Russian troops of the ability to use artillery and aircraft – this tactic also slows down the advance.

The battles for Volnovakha, Popasnaya and Mariupol went almost like in the years of the Great Patriotic War for Stalingrad.

By the way, the size of Mariupol and Stalingrad during the Great Patriotic War are almost the same.

At the same time, 200-300 thousand fighters involved in the special operation are distributed along the entire front more than a thousand kilometers long from the borders of the Kharkov and Belgorod regions to Kherson.

And although Kherson and Melitopol were liberated without a fight, Russian troops are still forced to keep units on the border of the Kherson and Nikolaev regions in order to prevent the counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

And another 200-300 thousand units involved in the special operation include the rear and medical services. Air defense forces enter, which are distributed throughout the liberated territory to cover the cities. And there are also units that carry out demining of the liberated territories. And patrol service. And a cleanup. And the search for saboteurs.

In general, it only seems that 200 thousand is a rather large army. For a front with a length of more than 1,000 kilometers and for a liberated territory with a population of about 1 million inhabitants (including Kherson, Zaporozhye and Kharkov – almost 3 million), where it is necessary to carry out mine clearance, patrolling, cleaning and providing air defense – this is not so much.

Even if we purely mathematically divide 200 thousand into five – Kharkiv, Zaporozhye, Kherson regions, Donetsk and Luhansk republics – it turns out 50 thousand per region. Very little.

It is clear that now the priority direction is the liberation of the Donetsk Republic and the largest forces are involved in this direction, and in the relatively calm Kherson and Zaporozhye regions – a minimum. But all the same, it is impossible to use more than 100 thousand in an offensive in one sector with all the desire.

In fact, this number must be divided by two or even three.

The fact is that the troops involved in a long-term operation, which lasts more than a month, need rotation.

I don’t know in what mode the rotation is carried out during the special operation, this is probably secret information, but during the Chechen war, the rotation was carried out according to the scheme “a month on a business trip – two to four months at home, on vacation and in the service of the PPD.”

Therefore, if initially about 200 thousand fighters were involved in the special operation, then after a month or at most two, at least half had to be replaced. But to whom?

The number of the Russian NVO grouping of 200,000 fighters did not arise from the ceiling – this is the number of officers and contract soldiers of the ground forces available for sending to the front.

The total number, of course, is greater, but it is impossible to send every one to one so as not to leave the troops completely without commanders. Again, you need at least some reserve.

Therefore, it is impossible to provide rotation for 200,000 NWO participants by a “simple replacement”. No, it will be possible to send 200 thousand “home” (to the PPD, points of permanent deployment), and send 200 thousand others to the front. Because there are simply no 200 thousand others.

This means that the command is forced to rotate in parts, withdraw from the front 20-30 thousand a week and send them on vacation in order to return them to the front in 1-2 months.

Thus, taking into account the rotation, the number of troops involved in the special operation after the first month most likely decreased to 150,000, and after the third – to about 100,000.

And if you look at the dynamics of the destruction of military equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, you can see that in the second month, about half as much equipment was destroyed as in the first. And for the third – even half as much. This suggests that in the second and third months the intensity of hostilities decreased by 2-4 times. Which is most likely caused just by the beginning of the reductions in the troops involved due to rotation.

In addition, Russian troops suffer losses, no matter how hard they try to avoid it. And if the losses of two hundredths in the Russian troops are relatively small (in comparison with the Armed Forces of Ukraine), then the losses of the wounded are quite sensitive. A wound, even a minor one, needs to be treated. And then rehabilitation. And if the wound is severe, then the fighter can no longer return to the front.

Therefore, at the moment, the number of troops involved in the special operation, taking into account rotation and injuries, is probably two times less than originally – that is, about 100 thousand.

And this is for 5 regions, 1000 kilometers of front, logistics, mine clearance, patrolling, cleaning and air defense of the liberated territories.

How does Russia conduct a special operation with such forces?

Slowly. But continuously.

The General Staff chose the tactics of destroying the Armed Forces of Ukraine with artillery, missile and air strikes.

Russian troops, taking advantage of the overwhelming superiority in artillery, precision weapons and aviation, day after day shoot the Armed Forces of Ukraine in their positions. And the offensive is carried out only in small areas where the enemy is sufficiently weakened.

That is why progress is so slow.

After rocket-artillery and air processing of enemy positions, assault groups are advanced. If they encounter strong resistance, they retreat again and rocket and artillery processing and air strikes continue. And so day after day.

Considering that the Armed Forces of Ukraine do not spare reserves and send new ones to the place of the units lost during the shelling, the battles for each strong point can last more than one day. And the Armed Forces of Ukraine have a lot of strong points along the entire front line. For 8 years they dug in there very thoroughly. And in cities, every second house has been turned into a stronghold.

To go on the offensive immediately on a wide front, you need, as prescribed in the charters, a 4-fold numerical superiority. If the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the defense of the Slavyansko-Kramatorsk region involved 50 thousand, then 200 thousand are needed for the offensive. Only in this one area. And at the disposal of the SVO, taking into account the rotation and the wounded, there are a maximum of 150 thousand along the entire front and in all regions, of which no more than 100 thousand infantry, the rest are artillerymen, air defense units, rear services, doctors, signalmen and others.

But even if the command had the opportunity to send 200 thousand soldiers to storm the Slavyansko-Kramatorsk region, during the assault on well-fortified positions, losses would reach 50%.

If you lose 100 thousand in each region, and even more so in each city, things will definitely not reach Western Ukraine. Even Kyiv will have no one to storm. Actually, Western strategists were counting on this, that Russia would put 100 thousand each in the Donbass, Kharkov, Odessa and the Dnieper – and this would be the end of the special operation. Moreover, it will end with the defeat of Russia and the Maidan in Moscow.

Just for this reason, conscripts are not sent to a special operation. Because there is nothing for them to do there. Losses will increase many times over, but there will be little sense. Because as the number grows, the quality goes down.

The command of the Northern Military District chose the tactics of “execution” of the Armed Forces of Ukraine at the expense of rocket and artillery superiority and air supremacy.

It is this tactic that determines the low speed of advancement. Because after the shelling, you need to conduct reconnaissance and check whether the enemy has been destroyed or not, if not, fire again. If destroyed – take his position and locate the next enemy stronghold. And so step by step, house by house. Sometimes a kilometer a day, sometimes a hundred meters.

It turns out slowly. But the losses are small.

In the first month they tried faster – it turned out badly. They quickly entered Kharkov and left with losses. We also reached Kyiv very quickly, but then we had to retreat.

On the Seversky Donets, they also hurried once.

Therefore, it is better to slowly but surely.

The quieter you go, the further you’ll get.

Moreover, we are not going so quietly, if you look closely. If we take into account that we have to gnaw through the defenses that the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been building for 8 whole years, and even they are defending with superior forces.

And most of the DPR has already been released. The pre-war number of settlements liberated during the special operation is almost 1 million. And it remains to liberate settlements in the DPR with a total “pre-war” population of about 500 thousand. So there is good progress.

It’s just that we have been waiting for the liberation of Donbass for a very long time and now we are very much waiting for the shelling of Donetsk to finally stop. And how they are waiting for this in Donetsk itself! Therefore, it seems that everything is going unbearably slowly. Even slower than it really is.