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Monday, December 5, 2022

In Ukraine, Two US Army Veterans See the New Face of War | Sofmag

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Two urban warfare experts went to Ukraine to study the battle of Kyiv. Here’s what they found.

The apparent damage rose as we got closer to Kyiv—burned-out automobiles, the remains of once-bustling buildings, the carcasses of Russian vehicles left by the side of the road—even before its skyline of green onion domes came into focus.

The guard led us into the car, surprising us and the driver Fedi, a young Ukrainian from Lviv. The driver and her companion, startled, shuffled the goods about in the back of their car to make place for our bags and us. Similar to the boatlift at Dunkirk or the use of regular cabs during the Battle of the Marne, this war relied on everyday Ukrainians to fill up the holes in the war’s logistics and act as temporary Uber drivers.

He pointed out that many troops we saw in uniform with their families came from the frontlines as he hurried to the restaurant. We needed to hear firsthand accounts of the combat in addition to walking the same land where things had taken place and using our own eyes to identify the central locations in the more significant conflict.

We were presented to the group’s commander, a muscular guy we simply referred to as “Colonel,” with hands the size of ham hocks and a very austere. We walked to a map where the colonel discussed what had transpired in the early days of the conflict after a brief lunch in their canteen that was designed to seem like a barracks.

The national blue-and-yellow flag of Ukraine was flying from a military truck parked at the very top of the road as a sign of the country’s resistance to the Russian invasion. The officers quickly realized that we were combat veterans and had done much research before the engagement.

We were introduced to a large map and informed about the Russian invasion of eastern Kyiv by a colonel and a general. We were brought in so quickly that we did not have time to inquire about their unit, so it was not until the briefing was nearly through that we began to wonder, “Who the hell are these guys?” We found that most of the 72nd had relocated to the country’s east after successfully protecting the capital, leaving the ongoing defense of Kyiv to volunteers.

The Russians made an odd effort to enter Kyiv by moving down the highway in what seemed to be a parade column of tanks and armored infantry vehicles, but they were ambushed by Ukrainian forces. We ran with several Ukrainian volunteers who participated in the ambush together with the 72nd Mechanized Brigade. At one point, we reached a standstill where it was evident that many Russian cars had been completely destroyed by fire.

While loading our luggage into Fedir’s vehicle on our last day in Ukraine, Kristina arrived with another service member. We were not formally introduced when Kristina indicated for us to follow her. We could only presume that this was where we had been headed since the day before we had indicated that we wanted to learn more about Ukraine’s deliberate flooding of the rivers northwest of Kyiv.

We knew the Ukrainians had let the Irpin River flood by opening a dam. However, we were shocked to discover that the flooding was considerably more complicated than just breaching one dam. The operation, flooding the Irpin, Zdyzh, and Teteriv Rivers, was adequately thought out and executed.

Finally, a lieutenant colonel in the Army who served as our guide was presented to us. Our guide instructed us to get in our cars and drive away, although it was unclear if the conflict had been settled. We saw the volunteerism that pervaded this battle while we waited at the border for our driver to pick us up.

The Ukraine experience has shown us that conventional armies are no longer the only ones used to wage war.

Source: https://www.sofmag.com/in-ukraine-two-us-army-veterans-see-the-new-face-of-war/


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