I stumbled across a video of Dr. Philip Karber, a former U.S. Marine and founder of the Potomac Foundation, briefing West Point cadets in April 2018 on the war in the Donbas and Russian capabilities. It is remarkable and worth your time because it lays out in stark terms the delusion of the American military and the harsh reality of Russian military capabilities.
Andrei Raevsky (aka The Saker) provides a helpful summary of Karber’s key points:
- Russia has the most advanced and dense, data-linked air defense on earth.
- In a war against Russia, U.S. army cannot expect much air assistance for at least the first several weeks. Even stealth aircraft will not be of much use because of the distance they must fly in order to reach targets in Ukraine and/or Russia.
- Russian EW (electronic warfare) is much more advanced and more ‘combat-ized’ than in the U.S. RF utilizes it in combat squads whereas U.S. barely has any and only at the divisional level
- Russian EW shuts down all communications in huge areas along the front, no cellphones, military radios etc. They break GPS links with drones, making them useless and can even fry the fuses on artillery shells midflight.
- U.S. army produces 10x the frequency emissions of a Ukrainian brigade, which would make it extremely visible to all sorts of Russian EW, drones, advanced weapons.
- Russia has far more artillery than U.S. and far greater variety of munition types.
Remember, these are the items Karber identifies as key. This is not Raevsky’s opinion. The video is unnerving in part because it is four years old yet predicts the kind of war Russia is now waging inside Ukraine.
Go to the 17:40 mark in the video and listen as Karber describes the Russian Operations Plan for Invading Ukraine. Even though this video is four years old it is still relevant. More so than ever. Here is the map of the proposed 2014 Russian invasion plan. Look familiar?
Important to note that Russia made some significant alterations to this plan. Their axis of attack from the north through Chernobyl was not on the 2014 plan.
Karber’s two most salient conclusions from his briefing should scare the hell out of U.S. military commanders.
First, from the last year of WW II until now the US has always fought with air superiority and never faced a comparable air force. Russia changes that calculus. Not only does it have a robust combat air capability that rivals anything the United States or NATO can put in the air, the Russians have the largest interconnected air defense system in the world. Five systems that are all data linked according to Karber. And this was the status quo from four years ago. Russian has made additional significant technological gains on this front.
One of the most important developments is Russia’s dramatic expanded use of drones/UAVs. Russian tanks have capability to operate a UAV from the tank to obtain intelligence and launch an aerial attack.
The second, and far more concerning Russian advantage is its formidable Electronic Warfare capabiltiy–i.e., they can listen, jam communications and hit targets emitting an electronic signature. The US Army, by contrast, does not have a competent, organized EW capability. Compounding the threat is the U.S. Army’s over reliance on computer systems to gather and disseminate intelligence and other essential military communications. This means that U.S. command posts and units will be easier to target and destroy.
Another ominous observation from Karber concerns use of thermobaric weapons. Karber describes them as “Napalm on steroids.” The Ukrainian soldiers dug in at fortified positions are discovering this horror first hand. These bombs give Russia the ability to devastate company and brigade sized units. It eliminates Russia’s need to send troops against a fortification and risk incurring thousands of casualties.
The war in the Donbas has been going on for eight years. Until now, Russia did not fully engage its full military capabilities. Whatever success Ukraine enjoyed prior to the launch of the special military operation is now a distant memory. If Dr. Karber is to be believed, the Ukrainian Army posed a more serious threat than any army that NATO could field. In other words, the last six weeks represent a proxy war between Russia and NATO and NATO is losing.