There has been considerable speculation across various media platforms at the efficacy of armour in the Russian invasion. There are plenty of photos of dead tanks and burning vehicles. Video showing the inefficacy of Russian reactive armour is beginning to appear and some people are now using this ‘data’ to question whether we need tanks in modern war. First, this is not data; the beginning of a rain shower is not an indication that the Second Inundation is upon us and that we should start building an ark. Most people (myself included) have diminishing attention spans so I shall give you the answer and then explain it.
Yes, we need tanks.
Why is Russian armour so ineffective? Lots of reasons:
- There is no real concept in Russian military thinking for maintenance. The equipment rolls into garrisons and then is repaired when it breaks. They do not spend resources keeping things that are already running, running. Fine. Until they stop running when you need them to fight. Too late to call for repair.
- Morale is an issue too often overlooked. Russian military leadership is awful; at ALL levels.
- Likely the only thing worse than their leadership is their logistics (see point 1 above).
- Russian doctrine applies well at divisional levels where massed firepower overwhelms the opponent. The Ukrainians have taken a page from Mao; they are bleeding the Russians one paper cut at a time. The question is whether they can sustain this strategy.
- Tanks are like thoroughbred horses. They are beautiful and highly effective when ‘ridden’ correctly. Giving a peasant farmer two thoroughbreds and then wondering why they died while pulling a plough is not reason enough to declare that horses should never pull anything. Employing armour correctly starts as a science and grows into an art-form (a deadly art form, yes). But if you do not get the science right, the second stage never gets to be practised.
So what? Until we devise another weapon system that can move across almost all terrain, offers protection from the full range of weaponry, has devastating firepower and accuracy and has the shock action of armour, the tank is here to stay. In the meantime, we need to revisit why we have tanks and relearn the lessons we seem to have forgotten by spending to much time focused on a single kind of low-level conflict.
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For your readers, please forgive my parochialism, but Chuck you are entirely correct! RPF T9 Chris