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Happy Tuesday, everyone! Hope you had a great Mother’s Day and have gotten off to a great start with this week!
The biggest news this week was the big May 9 parade held by Russia, and what it might’ve meant for Ukraine.
As stated in the interview below, Putin blinked (not declaring war or a mass mobilization), which is great news for Ukraine.
Another important point made in the interview is that Russia has lost more troops in ten weeks of war with Ukraine as it lost in ten years in Afghanistan.
That’s almost impossible to comprehend.
One final thing mentioned in the video above was the liberation of Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine (after Kyiv).
Ukrainians drove Russian forces so far back that the Russians can no longer target the city with artillery. Map below.
We’ve discussed the delivery of artillery and drones to Ukraine in previous newsletters, but here’s a quick update on those efforts.
Both the fact that Putin didn’t announce a mobilization/declaration of war along with the combined delivery of superior weapons from the West have some analysts predicting Ukraine will certainly will.
Two final points before we leave the topic. First, the desperate defenders in Mariupol at the steel plant are still somehow holding out.
A flag still flies there, even as artillery rounds continue to strike it.
My final point on Ukraine (at least militarily speaking) for this edition comes from the remarkable video below. Take the twenty seconds and watch it.
It is my firm belief that our very own George Washington himself would have stood and clapped for the Ukrainians and the fighting spirit that they are showing.
They are indomitable.
Moving away from the conflict side of things in Ukraine, there were a couple of other points I wanted to share about the Ukrainian people.
First, in an article in The Washington Post titled “Ukraine is rebuilding cities as fast as Russia destroyed them,” the efforts of Ukrainians to throw themselves into fixing the mess Russia has caused is almost too unreal to believe.
In recently liberated Kharkiv, volunteers fill buses to go into parts of the city to sweep-up glass, stack bricks that might be re-used, and pull together piles of rubble, all while mending things as best they can.
They’re doing this for no pay and working in neighborhoods that aren’t even their own. And the fact that someone is pulling together buses to load people on?! And that groups as large as sixty or more are gathering each day to do it?! Fo no pay?!
In that same article, there’s this:
In Irpin, a suburb that was formerly home to about 60,000 people, municipal workers have worked on half-pay to repair dozens of water and sewage pumps.
“We worked day and night without a day off,” said Artur Zahodirenko, the director of Irpin’s municipal water service, which relied on equipment supplied by aid agencies.
About 16,000 people have returned to Irpin in recent days, said the mayor, Oleksandr Markushin. If the progress in restoring services continues apace, he said, he’ll formally invite all residents back on May 15.
I mean, I’d really like to think Americans would do the same. And on my positive days, I think they would. But on other days? I’m not so sure.
I feel like there’s a good chance that we’d be complaining services were being restored somewhere else too quickly, or that the federal government should come and do this or do that.
We complain about so much and if we lost cell service for an entire day, I’m not sure most of us could make it.
On the other hand, the clean-up efforts in Kharkiv include mowing grass and planting tulips while worried about incoming fire.
Continued shelling in Kharkiv has done little to deter the volunteers. Tulips have been planted throughout downtown, and city workers were cutting the grass in hard-hit neighborhoods.
In front of the city’s destroyed regional administration building, Valentina Orlova, 73, hurriedly planted yellow pansies early this past week. It was around noon, and the work needed to be done by 2 p.m.
“That’s when the shelling usually starts, so we need to finish quickly to get home,” she said.
I’m not sure about you, but I can name numerous streets near my own that have yards that need to be mowed, and no one around here is worried about lack of power or incoming shells.
This is what Kharkiv looks like right now.
And yet despite the impossible amount of work that must be done, already you are seeing this.
And they’re doing this with fighting less than an hour’s drive away.
The other thing I wanted to share is just how thoughtful the Ukrainians are. In a time when most are worried about living or having enough food, the Ukrainians are still worried about their animals.
I know that nothing good comes from war, but if we can learn from these incredible examples, then it’s not all a complete waste.
Moving along, I mostly try to avoid politics, but the interview below was so full of wisdom that I just had to share it. It’s from a man who served both parties, having worked in the administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton.
It’s worth the listen if you have a few minutes, I assure you.
Moving to other matters, in tech news, I thought you’d be interested in seeing this report, if you’re into the development of lasers and their battlefield applications.
The Congressional report isn’t too dense and makes a couple of important points regarding ships trying to stop attacks from missiles and drones/UAVs. From the report:
Two key limitations that Navy surface ships currently have in defending themselves against UAVs and anti-ship missiles are limited depth of magazine and unfavorable cost exchange ratios. Limited depth of magazine refers to the fact that Navy surface ships can use surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and their Close-in Weapon System (CIWS) Gatling guns to shoot down only a certain number of enemy UAVs and anti-ship missiles before running out of SAMs and CIWS ammunition — a situation (sometimes called “going Winchester”) that can require a ship to withdraw from battle, spend time traveling to a safe reloading location (which can be hundreds of miles away), and then spend more time traveling back to the battle area.
The report states that as far as costs go, it can cost more to defend a ship currently than the inexpensive UAVs cost to create, since some of the defensive missiles cost millions of dollars a piece.
In combat scenarios against an adversary with a limited number of UAVs or anti-ship missiles, an unfavorable cost exchange ratio can be acceptable because it saves the lives of Navy sailors and prevents very expensive damage to Navy ships. But in combat scenarios (or an ongoing military capabilities competition) against a country such as China that has many UAVs and anti-ship missiles and a capacity for building or acquiring many more, an unfavorable cost exchange ratio can become a very expensive — and potentially unaffordable — approach to defending Navy surface ships against UAVs and anti-ship missiles, particularly in a context of constraints on U.S. defense spending and competing demands for finite U.S. defense funds.
Lasers could be the solution to both limited depth of magazine and cost, the report states. Lasers “offer a potential for dramatically improving depth of magazine and the cost exchange ratio:”
Depth of magazine. Lasers are electrically powered, drawing their power from the ship’s overall electrical supply, and can be fired over and over, indefinitely, as long as the laser continues to work and the ship has fuel to generate electricity.
Cost exchange ratio. Depending on its beam power, a laser can be fired for an estimated marginal cost of $1 to less than $10 per shot (much of which simply is the cost of the fuel needed to generate the electricity used in the shot).
The report then goes on to discuss the current status of laser development and its future. It notes the strong possibilities in for the future, but also warns that critics of lasers have been correct that the potential abilities of laser have been oversold in the past, and that their development is expensive and risky.
In Marine Corps news, additional specifics have emerged about the Commandant’s plans for the Corps.
Moving further along, this isn’t news, but both of these photos caught my eye and seemed eminently sharable. First, this.
And then this one, which I found oddly touching.
Moving to the next topic, I must be getting increasingly sentimental, but I wanted to share this.
Not that it’s news, but there is something truly special about a dog’s love. I think we could learn something from their example.
And while we’re learning from animals, take a look at this.
If turtles can do this, then I’m pretty sure we can all do a better job of caring for each other.
And I am pretty sure all of us are kind of flipped on our backs at least one or twice a week. Please, check on your friends, family, and neighbors.
Okay, let’s end with some wisdom and motivation (but perhaps a little less this week given how emotional I’ve made this edition).
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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Stan R. Mitchell
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