Lessons Learned from the Russo-Ukrainian War

I noticed that our blog was being pinged by a site I was not familiar with, so I took a look at it….and I don’t read Chinese Korean  (see: https://m.blog.naver.com/alsrb19/221127427656).

But the site had a link to a paper written by Dr. Phillip A. Karber of the Potomac Foundation. This is worth looking at:


This was done as part of the “Historical Lessons Learned Workshop.” I gather Dr. Phillip Karber and retired Gen. Wesley Clark wandered around Ukraine a lot during 2014 and 2015. Mr. Karber was wounded in June 2015 in a MLRS strike at Bebedynsky during the process. While I have never met him, Phil Karber has been around for a while, having worked for Andy Marshall (OSD Net Assessment). A few highlights:

  1. “…the struggle in Ukraine has involved the largest scale battles in Europe since the end of the Second World War.” (page 2)
  2. “The Russo-Ukrainian War has been full of surprises. First, it was totally unexpected.” (page 2)
  3. “A third surprise is the relative lack of Western attention given to the military aspects of the Russo-Ukrainian War; particularly given the unexpected scale and duration of the conflict….” (page 3)
  4. Artillery: “In the Ukraine conflict the author has witnessed units firing 300-400 rounds per tube per day. This increased intensity of fire is both outgoing and incoming.” (page 16)
  5. “Data from the Ukraine conflict show that artillery is producing approximately 85% of all casualties on both sides.” (page 17)
  6. “In July 2014….In the space of six weeks, the Russians launched 53 fire strikes at 40 different locations, which decimated Ukrainian forces. For example, at Zelenopillya, in a combined MLRS fire strike that lasted no more than three minutes, two Ukrainian mechanized battalions were virtually wiped out with the combined effects of top-attack munitions and thermobaric warheads.” (page 18)
  7. “Since the end of the Cold War, armies around the world have given increased emphasis to light Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV), which prioritizes mobility and fire-power over survivability. The evidence coming in from the Ukrainian conflict seriously questions the validity of that emphasis.” (page 26)

There are probably a few other significant points that I passed on.

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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  1. 1. The only thing comparable that comes into my mind were the Balkan conflict and Croatian/Serbian clashes. 2. is incorrect and was predictable, if you were familiar with East European studies. 7. is also debatable. IFVs may differ in their approach on the battlefield, depends on the type (infantry, without infantry). In the African theatre you might need vehicles with capabilities which may allow them to act independently (derived from the WW2 mentality of the African front). He should also realize that Ukraine does not have the ability to field IFVs of e.g. US quality. In fact, you will see a lot of improvised equipment.
    Technically they may be seen as a natural evolution of APCs, it is a derivative (and they have been highly effective in WW2 combat, during clashes in the steppes and cities of the EF, lowering infantry casualties).

  2. I have been reading more on the the various assault guns/tank destroyers in WW2.

    It is interesting to see the 2s1 being used in the direct fire support role. Possibly the type was abandoned too quickly. The noted effectiveness of direct fire against the tanks would make this even more so true.

    In a fixed positional battlefield lighter vehicles are going to have their limitations. But they have a way of keep coming back. Even if the slug fest of WW2, the Germans found it worth their time to refurbish their Pkw II (one step over a tankette) and use them to support their assault gun units. It was very much a matter of combining the strengths of the different types within the units.

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