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June 03, 2023

The Ukrainian Military Is In Bad Shape

Erik Kramer and Paul Schneider are two former U.S. special operations soldiers who have been in Ukraine since 2022 to train Ukrainian troops.

At War on the Rocks they paint a dark picture of the state of the Ukrainian military. Their intent is to get money for more training, thus the real picture may be less dark than they describe. But even if one takes that into account it is still a sad state for an army that has been at war for more than a year. Some excerpts:

Based on our nine months of training with all services of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, to include the Ground Forces (Army), Border Guard Service, National Guard, Naval Infantry (Marines), Special Operations Forces, and Territorial Defense Forces, we have observed a series of common trends: lack of mission command, effective training, and combined arms operations; ad hoc logistics and maintenance; and improper use of special operations forces. These trends have undermined Ukraine’s resistance and could hinder the success of the ongoing offensive.

What ongoing offensive?

Under mission command, the German Auftragstaktik, the leader disseminates his intent ("to attack through the northern woods to take town x") and authority to subunits that is passed down with the mission to empower subordinates at all levels. Each subunits can make its plans to coordinate and execute the mission as best as possible. The contrast is an order command where every detail of execution is ordered from the top down. Both have advantages but to have a mixed system, as Ukraine currently has, is the worst of all places.

Cont. reading: The Ukrainian Military Is In Bad Shape

Posted by b at 17:01 UTC | Comments (216)

June 02, 2023

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-133

Only for news & views directly related to the Ukraine conflict.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 15:48 UTC | Comments (248)

'Artificial Intelligence' Is (Mostly) Glorified Pattern Recognition

This somewhat funny narrative about an 'Artificial Intelligence' simulation by the U.S. airforce appeared yesterday and got widely picked up by various mainstream media:

However, perhaps one of the most fascinating presentations came from Col Tucker ‘Cinco’ Hamilton, the Chief of AI Test and Operations, USAF, who provided an insight into the benefits and hazards in more autonomous weapon systems.
He notes that one simulated test saw an AI-enabled drone tasked with a SEAD mission to identify and destroy SAM sites, with the final go/no go given by the human. However, having been ‘reinforced’ in training that destruction of the SAM was the preferred option, the AI then decided that ‘no-go’ decisions from the human were interfering with its higher mission – killing SAMs – and then attacked the operator in the simulation. Said Hamilton: “We were training it in simulation to identify and target a SAM threat. And then the operator would say yes, kill that threat. The system started realising that while they did identify the threat at times the human operator would tell it not to kill that threat, but it got its points by killing that threat. So what did it do? It killed the operator. It killed the operator because that person was keeping it from accomplishing its objective.”

He went on: “We trained the system – ‘Hey don’t kill the operator – that’s bad. You’re gonna lose points if you do that’. So what does it start doing? It starts destroying the communication tower that the operator uses to communicate with the drone to stop it from killing the target.”

(SEAD = Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses, SAM = Surface to Air Missile)

In the earl 1990s I worked at a University, first to write a Ph.D. in economics and management and then as associated lecturer for IT and programming. A large part of the (never finished) Ph.D. thesis was a discussion of various optimization algorithms. I programmed each and tested them on training and real world data. Some of those mathematical algos are deterministic. They always deliver the correct result. Some are not deterministic. They just estimated the outcome and give some confidence measure or probability on how correct the presented result may be. Most of the later involved some kind of Bayesisan statistics. Then there were the (related) 'Artificial Intelligence' algos, i.e. 'machine learning'.

Cont. reading: 'Artificial Intelligence' Is (Mostly) Glorified Pattern Recognition

Posted by b at 13:06 UTC | Comments (223)

June 01, 2023

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-132

Only for news & views directly related to the Ukraine conflict.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 15:28 UTC | Comments (264)

Missing The Context - U.S. Media Fail To Understand Persian Gulf Diplomacy And Action

There is a lack of ability or lack of willingness in 'western' media and politics to see the world through the eyes of others. This leads to wrong conclusions about certain situations and in consequence to misguided policies.

An example is yesterday's New York Times piece about an recent announcement by the United Arab Emirates:

As Iran Seizes Tankers in Gulf, U.A.E. Pulls Back From U.S.-Led Maritime Force - New York Times - May 31, 2023

The United Arab Emirates announced on Wednesday that it had stopped participating in a maritime security force led by the United States, the latest hint of tensions between Washington and key Persian Gulf allies who complain that America has not done enough to protect them from Iranian threats.

The unusual public statement came after Iran seized two commercial tankers in waterways near the Emirates in quick succession over the past two months. The Emirati Foreign Ministry said the country “withdrew its participation” from the Combined Maritime Forces two months ago “as a result of our ongoing evaluation of effective security cooperation with all partners.”

Political analysts say the Emirati statement could be intended as a message to the United States that the country is displeased with the level of American protection for its allies in the Persian Gulf against threats from Iran and must look out for its own interests. Emirati and Saudi officials have repeatedly expressed frustration with U.S. policy toward Iran.

The parts of the above in italics mark the assumptions and miss-conclusions that come with the inability to see the world through the eyes of others. The ignorance of the state of affairs in the Gulf expressed through them is embarrassing.

The reason the UAE officials have given, bold in the above, is easy to understand when one sees the world through their eyes.

What was the last significant measure Emirati and Saudi officials took to "expressed frustration with U.S. policy toward Iran"?

Here is a hint:

Cont. reading: Missing The Context - U.S. Media Fail To Understand Persian Gulf Diplomacy And Action

Posted by b at 15:20 UTC | Comments (94)

May 31, 2023

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-131

Only for news & views directly related to the Ukraine conflict.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 13:52 UTC | Comments (293)

Open (Not Ukraine) Thread 2023-130

News & views (not related to the war in Ukraine) ...

Posted by b at 13:51 UTC | Comments (204)

May 30, 2023

Drones Strikes In Moscow - Missile Strikes In Ukraine

Today the Russian government revealed some numbers and information about its 'Special Military Operation'.

Today's 'clobber report' by the Ministry of Defense leads with this (machine translation):

During the day, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation carried out group strikes using long-range high-precision air-launched weapons at central decision-making points where, under the guidance of specialists from Western intelligence agencies, terrorist acts were planned on Russian territory.

All assigned objects are hit.

'Central decision-making points' are ministries and main headquarters. These had so far not been targets. More to that below.

Defense Minister Shoigu had a conference call with the military command and noted:

"Russian forces continue to inflict an effective fire impact on the enemy. Its losses this month alone totaled over 16,000 troops, 16 aircraft, 5 helicopters, 466 drones, over 400 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, and 238 field artillery pieces and mortars," Shoigu said during a conference call.

He added that 196 HIMARS rockets, 16 HARM rockets and 29 Storm Shadow long-range cruise missiles were intercepted and destroyed during the reviewed period.

The numbers are, with the exception of the downed Storm Shadows,  largely consistent with the numbers from the daily 'clobber report' in my spreadsheet. But I have only counted 17 reported Storm Shadow kills over the last month. I do not know where Shoigu's 29 is coming from.

Shoigu also spoke of targets of the recent drone attacks in Ukraine (machine translation):

Cont. reading: Drones Strikes In Moscow - Missile Strikes In Ukraine

Posted by b at 14:36 UTC | Comments (321)

May 29, 2023

Egg In Their Face - Two Anti-China Claims The Wall Street Journal Made Last Weeks Were Fake

On May 26 Amnesty International published one of its usual aggressive accusations against a government the U.S. is hostile to.

Hong Kong: Government must reveal whereabouts of Uyghur student detained at airport (archived)

Hong Kong authorities must reveal the whereabouts and fate of a Uyghur student who has been missing since he arrived in the city from South Korea earlier this month, amid fears he has been unlawfully extradited to mainland China without due process and is at risk of arbitrary detention and torture, Amnesty International said today.
Abuduwaili Abudureheman has not been heard from since he sent a text message to a friend on 10 May. In the message, Abudureheman said he was being interrogated by Chinese police after arriving at Hong Kong airport.
“The unknown fate of Abuduwaili Abudureheman is deeply worrying, given the background of crimes against humanity committed against Uyghurs by the Chinese government in Xinjiang, and its ongoing pursuit of Uyghurs who have travelled overseas,” said Alkan Akad, Amnesty International’s China Researcher.

The accusations seem to be based on claims made by a single anonymous source:

Cont. reading: Egg In Their Face - Two Anti-China Claims The Wall Street Journal Made Last Weeks Were Fake

Posted by b at 17:09 UTC | Comments (88)

The Reconnaissance Strike Complex

The Reconnaissance Strike Complex
Lester Grau and Charles Bartles - May 30, 2018

The Soviet Union, and now Russia, have long worked on the development of twin concepts for the detection and assured destruction of high-value targets in near-real time. The Reconnaissance Strike Complex (разведивательно-ударный комплех-RYK) was designed for the coordinated employment of high-precision, long-range weapons linked to real-time intelligence data and precise targeting provided to a fused intelligence and fire-direction center. The RYK functioned at operational depths using surface-to-surface missile systems and aircraft-delivered “smart” munitions.

It took some time for the Russian reconnaissance-strike-complex to improve its reaction time. But it now seems to be quite fast.

First the reconnaissance element:

The Ukrainian Air Force Formed A New Strike Squadron—By Arming Reconnaissance Bombers With British Cruise Missiles
Forbes - May 28, 2023

Working closely with the United Kingdom, the Ukrainian air force has equipped at least some of the recon section—which flies two-seat, supersonic Sukhoi Su-24MRs from the regiment’s base in western Ukraine—with British-made Storm Shadow cruise missiles.
All the pre-war bombers and recon planes—as many as 16 of the former and nine of the latter—belonged to the 7th Bomber Regiment at Starokostiantyniv air base.

In a year and three months, the regiment has written off at least 17 Su-24s. Victims of Russian air-defense missiles, mostly.
It’s that simplicity [of the conversion] that apparently allowed the Ukrainian air force and its British supporters to form what amounts to a new long-range strike squadron—eight or more Storm Shadow-armed Su-24MRs—inside the battle-battered 7th Bomber Regiment ... in just three months’ time.

After reading yesterday's Forbes piece about Storm Shadow launching airplanes stationed at the Starokostiantyniv air base the commanders at the operation center of the Russian Special Military Operation, decided to have them destroyed.

The strike:

Cont. reading: The Reconnaissance Strike Complex

Posted by b at 14:45 UTC | Comments (195)