The Russian invasion of Ukraine. Feb- Dec 2022

Review by Martin Koenigsberg

Just finished my 14th Book Review of the Year!!

When the Russians invaded Ukraine in 2022, sparking a war now going into its third year, I was like many Americans who thought the war would be one-sides in Russia’s favor. I HOPED Ukraine could fight off the aggressive Russian war machine- but I was pessimistic. Now- that we all have seen the brave Ukrainians hold off the sometimes incompetent Russian “Special Operation”, I wanted to get a military author’s opinion- and in more than 250 character bursts. General John S Harrel is a US Army and California National Guard veteran and an expert on Soviet Mobile warfare in WWII and the Cold War, and he’s here to give us a survey of the first Year of the War. With a Map or diagram every few pages and a good color photo section -I was very interested in this book as a Military history buff- but I think the General Reader will also like getting this expertise to inform their current event knowledge base. The big concept for me to get my head around is the death of the Division. Army and corps HQs seem to manage Brigades directly- with the maneuver unit the BTG – and the Battalion Tactical Group. This seems to be an often ad-hoc- mixture of brigade assets in a Battalion size “Kampgruppe/BattleGroup” with a platoon or company size amount of infantry- with a few Tanks, IFVs, APCS, perhaps some mortars or artillery, and maybe some engineers/support units. to me, it seems like the “Penney packeting” of assets – instead of the Military principle of mass – and apparently, when these units get into contact they don’t have enough infantry to hold gains or exploit gaps. The Ukrainians- with better Western command and control principals- can coordinate local Territorial/National Guard units and Volunteer Infantry units alongside their regulars to hold them off. As for actually projecting the Russian invader out of Ukraine, Harrel discusses what it might take.

I look forward to more on this topic from this author as he seems to have contacts and anecdotes from every level. There are some adult themes and discussion of war crimes so this book is better left for the Junior Reader over 15/16 Years with a passion for current events. For the Gamer/Modeler/Military Enthusiast, this is a gold mine of information. I feel it is too early to game this war – but the BTG- and the fact that many gamers have much of the Soviet Cold War Era gear this war has been fought with on both sides – lends itself to “Proxy” Team Yankee/BattleGroup Northag/Modern simulations – using Soviets on both sides. A formation you built for your Club’s Team Yankee Campaign might be refashioned into several brigades… The modeler will get some build and diorama ideas- but will probably need even more photos from somewhere. For the Military Enthusiast- an intriguing view of the war through the eyes of a contemporary Western Military Officer. I can only think more general readers will find it engaging too.

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