Espreso. Global

Infinite human resource is Achilles' heel of Russia's army - military expert

25 October, 2023 Wednesday

Invading Russian forces have gone on the offensive in many parts of the front. It seems that Russia simply has an endless human resource. But is this really the case?

This was reported by military expert Oleksandr Kovalenko, according to Obozrevatel. 

Mobilization in Russia

According to official data, the Russian troops suffered more than 295,000 casualties during the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. And this is 100,000 more than the number of the group that took part in the invasion on February 24, 2022. Some units have ceased to physically exist at all during this time. Nevertheless, the number of Russian forces has not been critically reduced, and the Russian command finds a resource to compensate for the losses.

Indeed, Russia - a country of 140 million people - has a serious mobilization resource, which in a confrontation with a country like Ukraine should have total quantitative superiority. 

Last autumn, Russia carried out a so-called partial mobilization in which just over 300,000 people were drafted. This mobilization took place when, according to statements by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the losses of the Russian army were something like 6,000 people, and according to the version of the AFU General Staff - about 50,000 personnel.

Obviously, if the Russian army had lost only 6,000 people, it would not have had to conscript 300,000. But this "partial" mobilization showed that the mobilization potential and readiness of military commissions in the Russian Federation, as well as the availability of barracks, military stations, firing ranges, etc., for such a number are practically non-existent.

From about December 2022 mobilization in Russia allowed to attract a resource of 20,000-25,000 people monthly. Thus, after "partial" drove another 200,000 to 250,000 into the army of the aggressor country. That is, the total number of mobilized soldiers from September to September in Russia was 500,000-550,000 people.

Loss compensation

It would seem that Russia has mobilized more personnel over the past year than the Ukrainian troops have utilized, and this fully covers the losses. On the face of it, that's exactly right, but then why are there calls in the Russian political environment for a ban on the return by rotation of mobilized personnel until the so-called "special military operation" is over? And the web is increasingly filled with appeals from Russian women begging Putin to return their husbands, sons, and brothers from the "special military operation," where they have already spent a year without rotation.

The point is that when we talk about losses, we mean first of all those who were destroyed, someone takes into account the wounded, the more pragmatic ones remember the prisoners, and the especially pedantic ones also remember the deserters. But practically no one takes into account several existing needs.

"The first is compensation for losses in the format of restoring the combat capability of units. This is when a unit that has suffered losses incommensurate with the fulfillment of its combat missions needs to be urgently restored. Often, such a need goes beyond a measured mobilization process," the military expert says. 

The second need is the creation of new units. After all, the Russian army is going to be numerically increased, which means that people must be taken from somewhere to form new units in the rear, which in the short term should not be sent to the combat zone. That is, to recruit people who will not go to compensate for losses.

The third need is rotational. What is mentioned above. Units need to be rotated, but they should be replaced on the battlefield by someone. Equivalent units that simply do not exist.

If we cover all these needs in their entirety, the monthly mobilization in Russia should be between 40,000 and at least 50,000 people. But this is not the case and is unlikely to happen - at least until after the elections in 2024.

Resource quality and assurance

The resources that are now coming into the hands of the Russian forces are significantly different from those that fought at the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. And this difference is being felt. After all, when the elite with many years of experience in the army were attacking, regions, districts, and large cities were captured, but as the mobilized resources began to prevail in the Russian army, the offensive has slipped either to a local level, in the size of a village or a settlement, or to the defense, which the Russians cannot hold. In turn, the level of casualties increased.

At the same time, the mobilized resource is attracted when the military-industrial complex of the Russian Federation has no possibility to provide it with all the necessary equipment. The shortage of equipment, ammunition, and equipment - all this affects the survival rate of poorly trained resources.

Having conscripted more than 500,000 men, Russia could not during this year achieve even 10% of the goals achieved by a grouping of 180,000 in the first half of 2022. A simple and very eloquent comparison that points to what is a professional component in the troops and regular supply, compensation for losses.

"And yet, even without some large-scale achievements in the combat zone, this resource plays an inhibiting role, slowing down the progress of the Ukrainian Defense Forces," Kovalenko emphasizes. 

Leveling the loss of resources

The human resource of the Russian army is not decisive and decisive in the capture of new territories, but it is much more effective as an inhibiting element.

On the other hand, the Russians have a limit to their monthly compensation for losses. And as banal as it may sound, it is the increase in the level of losses of Russian troops that is the solution to this problem.

That is, the destruction of more than 20,000 Russian soldiers per month is by far the most effective means of exsanguinating the enemy's defense potential. Of course, this must be carried out in conjunction with other actions to neutralize the enemy's potential, in particular its aviation component, armored vehicles and artillery.

For example, not having a sufficient number of armored combat vehicles, the Russians are forced to advance either by placing troops on the armor of tanks or by using unarmored civilian transport. This increases the number of casualties.

But in most cases, offensive or defensive, the enemy's main bet is on numbers. Reducing these numbers will lead to paralysis and collapse of the defense.

"And we cannot say that this is unattainable. In January, February and March 2023, this figure exceeded 20,000, which resulted in the "meat grinder" in Bakhmut. And it was then that Russia was forced to postpone the planned February offensive along the Lyman-Kupyansk axis and the offensive on Orikhiv and Huliaipole. In June, the losses of the Russian army also exceeded 20,000, and then the Russian occupation troops hastily pulled units from other bridgeheads to the Zaporizhzhia region, as reserves began to run out very quickly."

Thus, as the war drags on through the use of manpower, the situation with its provision worsens - and as a result, another component of the functionality of Russian troops deteriorates. And the worse this component is, paradoxical as it may sound, the more manpower is needed.

And here the Russian army is at an existential dead end, when it is impossible to provide more technical components to the front, and it is no longer possible to compensate for its shortage with human resources - as well as to provide the growing resource with this component (for effective fulfillment of assigned tasks).

The number of Russian troops and their mobilization potential have always been called the advantage of the Russian forces, but they are also their Achilles' heel.

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