Russia on defence! Ukraine forces Putin’s ‘poorly led, ill-trained’ troops on back foot

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Ukraine: Footage appears to show HIMARS strike in Brylivka

Mark Hertling offered a withering assessment of Putin’s forces almost six months after the Russian President ordered his invasion on February 24.The 68-year-old, who was Commanding General of United States Army Europe and the Seventh Army from March 2011 to November 2012, provided an in-depth analysis in a series of tweets yesterday.

He explained: “Russia’s ground forces have proven to be poorly led, ill-trained & with low morale, increasingly & significantly attritted in personnel & equipment (some sources now indicating that when they went into this fight in Feb most units were understrength), unable to regenerate.”

Russia had lacked the ability to execute combined arms operations (CAOs), which are defined as combining resources including infantry, tanks and artillery along with intel and logistics in order secure ground, Mr Hertling suggested.

He explained: “Executing CAOs is much more difficult than what many might comprehend.

Vladimir Putin Volodymyr Zelensky

Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (Image: GETTY)

Mark Hertling

Mark Hertling believes Russia is now “on the defence” (Image: Twitter)

“It takes years of developing the right kind of leaders and soldiers, getting the right equipment, having the right doctrine, doing the right kind of training & exercises, and having the right kind of government to support those activities without grift or corruption.

“It’s more than ‘giving Ukraine everything they need’ and believing it will automatically become a modern and capable force.”

Mr Hertling stressed: “Russia came into this fight thinking they could execute a ‘Desert Storm-like offensive’ that would be completed in a few days . This was delusional.

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General Mark Hertling

General Mark Hertling pictured in 2007 (Image: GETTY)

“They lacked the leadership, training, equipment, to do it. Given RU culture & systems, they aren’t capable of fixing this.”

Ukraine’s forces, while relatively well trained with high morale, did not currently have the training for large scale CAOs, Mr Hertling said – but added: “They are adapting, training w/allies, incorporating new equipment, and doing so very quickly.

“The Donbas slugfest was a counterfire battle; limited manoeuvre, a battle of attrition.”

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HIMARS: A missile is launched from an undisclosed Ukraine location (Image: GETTY)

Destroyed Russian tanks in Ukraine

Destroyed Russian tanks in Ukraine (Image: GETTY)

Russian forces had tried to sap Ukraine’s will to fight with “imprecise strikes against civilian targets” but Ukraine, armed with new weapons including the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) were stopping them in their tracks.”

In the south of the country, Russia was struggling as a result of “bad leadership”, and was hence relying on a “scorched earth campaign”, Mr Hertling suggested.

He added: “Russia is now stalled in the south and can only resupply from Rostov-on-Don (in Russia) or from Russian bases in Crimea (which is now being threatened).”

Russia Ukraine

Russia vs Ukraine in numbers (Image: Express)

In the south, Ukraine was now targeting logistics while defending and conducting limited attacks to regain ground with conventional forces, and conducting a “guerrilla campaign”.

Mr Hertling said: “Ukraine knows something Russia doesn’t: Ukraine knows you can’t WIN wars with artillery or air alone.

“Those may affect the outcome, or even prep the battlefield for future fights, but a force can’t regain ground with “fires” alone. You must do it with manoeuvre forces…in CAOs.”

“Early RU goals were beyond their capability. Reducing the goals didn’t help.

Volodymyr Zelensky

Volodymyr Zelensky meets Ireland’s Taoiseach, Micheal Martin, in Kyiv last month (Image: GETTY)

“Now, RU’s defending in more places against a growing conventional Ukraine threat and an expanded guerilla war.

“Ukraine has transitioned to the offense and can pick where they attack; Russia is now on the defense.

August 24 will also mark 31 years of Ukraine’s independence from Soviet rule and President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking during his nightly video address called for vigilance, feared Putin might use the date to launch a brutal attack on his people.

He said: “We must all be aware that this week Russia could try to do something particularly ugly, something particularly vicious.”

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