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Happy Friday, everyone!
Hope you have had a great week and have some awesome plans for this weekend!
We begin today with Ukraine again. But before we get too serious, we begin with a joke.
Okay, hopefully, that caused a small chuckle.
Back to Ukraine, from the big-picture perspective, Russia is stalled and Ukraine is now counter-attacking. (You can see a ton of details regarding this, from the maps in this thread. For the sake of brevity, I’m not posting them all here, but there’s a bunch, and if you don’t have Twitter, I’d suggest you sign up for it as it’s a great way to explore further topics mentioned here from experts who post there.)
I’ve written the past four or five editions (or maybe more) about the horrible situation in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. For the moment, the steel plant continues to hold out, and some evacuations have occurred.
You can read complete details below.
Russia has increased its efforts to retake the plant, in the hopes of trying to celebrate May 9 in Mariupol, trying to hope up the city they destroyed as some kind of emblem of their success.
But the entire thing screams of desperate propaganda.
As one journalist in Ukraine wrote…
I will continue to pray for and hold out hope for the brave, indomitable defenders of the steel plant. As well as for the civilians who remain trapped there.
In broader war news in Ukraine, everyone has doubtlessly seen the following.
As well as this.
I’m not real sure why this information is being shared or leaked to the media, but in my view, it’s dangerous and unnecessary. And I hope it ends soon.
Putin hardly needs more reason to escalate further with the West, and the more that news such as this is shared, the more Putin can claim that this is a Russia vs NATO/US, instead of Russia vs Ukraine.
Also, news such as the above takes credit away from the Ukrainians, who deserve almost all of the credit for this fight against Russia; not us.
One other item I wanted to share regarding the invasion by Russia, and that is the continuing war crimes.
Russia isn’t even ashamed of these crimes. It’s actually the opposite. They're proud of them.
But I’m hoping this will begin to change. I was happy to see the story below.
From the story, residents in Russia are turning to virtual private networks, or VPNs, which are encrypted.
Since the war began in February, VPNs have been downloaded in Russia by the hundreds of thousands a day — a massive surge in demand that represents a direct challenge to President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to seal Russians off from the wider world. By protecting the locations and identities of users, VPNs are now granting millions of Russians access to blocked material.
Daily downloads in Russia of the 10 most popular VPNs jumped from below 15,000 just before the war to as many as 475,000 in March. As of this week, downloads were continuing at a rate of nearly 300,000 a day, according to data compiled for the Washington Post by the analytics firm Apptopia, which relies on information from apps, publicly available data and an algorithm to come up with estimates.
The article states that Russia is hesitant to block VPNs, since many Russians “use VPNs to access nonpolitical entertainment and communication tools — popular distractions from daily hardships.”
Let’s hope more and more Russians learn the truth of the horrors happening in Ukraine and that a wave of deep, unstoppable anger at their government builds up from seeing the atrocities and deaths of their own soldiers, which Putin continues to lie about.
In tech news, the Ukraine war has possibly altered the balance of power in battles, as Max Boot writes.
Quoting an article published Oct. 14 by T.X. Hammes, a retired Marine colonel and iconoclastic military strategist, Boot says that:
… shifts in military technology have sometimes led to defensive dominance on the battlefield, sometimes to offensive dominance. Defenders had the upper hand between the American Civil War and World War I, which is why attacks along the Western Front were so bloody and futile. The dominance of the offensive was restored by the introduction of armor and aviation, leading to the German blitzkrieg in 1939-1941. But, Hammes argued, the application of information technology now means that the defender again has the edge.
Not even naval ships, bristling with armaments, are safe. “Today,” Hammes wrote, “land-based antiship systems are dominating the surface of the sea out to ever increasing ranges.” Sure enough, Ukraine employed Neptune antiship missiles to sink the cruiser Moskva, flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, after reportedly distracting the crew with a TB2 drone. On Monday, Ukraine reported sinking two Russian patrol boats with TB2s.
Boot ends by saying that this defensive dominance should be noted by China.
“ Given how hard Russia is finding it to invade a neighboring state, imagine how much more difficult it will be for China to mount an amphibious assault across the Taiwan Strait,” Boot writes. “That’s precisely what the Marine Corps is trying to do with its controversial decision to ditch all of its tanks and much of its artillery to put its focus on light expeditionary forces armed with missiles and drones. Gen. David H. Berger, the Marine commandant, has come under fire from retired Marine generals for his innovations, but Hammes thinks ‘Ukraine vindicates the commandant.’”
I’m personally still enormously torn about the changes to the Marine Corps. And I think the Army and Navy can work on the defensive missiles and other weaponry necessary for that potential conflict.
Marines operate best in joint land and air units, deployed forward in an expeditionary fashion. And the next time a force is needed in Africa, the Middle East, etc, I fear the Marine Corps will be too altered and changed because it’s focused on the possibility of a conflict with China.
For now, I’m with the retired Generals strongly opposing these changes by the current Commandant.
While we’re on the subject of technology, in the last edition, I showed how drones and other tech were destroying the Russian Army easily. And I also showed how their troop carriers were rolling bathtubs basically filled with fuel.
But I was stunned to see that even their rocket artillery is hilariously pathetic. Take a look at this.
Moving along, there’s been some sad news of our own.
Having been stuck on ship for six months in some pretty miserable conditions, I know how bleak it can be. And I also know that commanders put misssion accomplishment above quarters, caring for the troops, etc.
You have to have weapons, ammo, uniforms, etc.
You don’t have to have a decent place for service members to eat, sleep, etc.
Those are just the cold, hard facts.
But it’s also true that unnecessary suicides during basically peacetime are especially tragic. Here’s a great video and interview about it below.
Okay, let’s end the news portion on a lighter note. Far too much tragic news happening out there.
I’m sharing the two items below just because they’re amazing pictures of large fleets of helicopters in the air. Something you almost never see.
And here’s your dose of motivation and wisdom. (Mostly motivation.)
That’s it for this edition.
As a reminder, please be kind and endeavor to love your fellow Americans. We need to pull this country together, and that starts with all of us.
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The view from the front: military matters and motivation. is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
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Stan R. Mitchell
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