BM-21 launch vehicles during a military exercise of missile and artillery units © Sputnik/ Vitaliy Ankov
In November, while visiting the headquarters of the U.S. Army in Europe, I received a briefing on the performance of the Russian army in Ukraine. In a perfunctory tone, the young intelligence briefer recited the details of the July 2014 Battle of Zelenopillya, in which a single Russian artillery “fire strike” almost destroyed two Ukrainian mechanized battalions in a few minutes.
I couldn’t help imagining a U.S. armored battalion subjected to a similar fire strike. I realized then that Ukraine had become Russia’s means for showcasing what might happen if we ever fought a firepower-intensive battle against it. “You know, guys,” I mused in the moment, “this is the first time since the beginning of the Cold War that an American war-fighting function has been bested by a foreign military.”
This revelation was all the more disturbing because artillery firepower has been a centerpiece of U.S. land warfare for almost a century. At Normandy, the Germans had nothing good to say about the quality of U.S. armor and infantry. But they feared U.S. artillery. The Germans could not mass fire across unit boundaries. But an American invention, the coordinated-fire “time on target,” could bring hundreds of guns to bear on a single target, delivering thousands of rounds simultaneously. The effect on the Germans was devastating.
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WNU Editor: This article is under a pay-wall (the Washington Post limits the number of free-articles that you can read). But if you do have a chance to read it, it is a disturbing insight into what would happen in any ground war between U.S./NATO forces and Russian forces. On a side note, my father was an artillery officer (among other things) for the Soviet Army during the Second World War .... so after the war he naturally followed developments and improvements in artillery fire for years. He told me more than once .... and that was 20 years ago .... that Russian artillery would surpass and devastate any NATO/U.S. military concentration.