Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Tanking tanks sign of Russian rot

     Tanks are not exactly fuel-efficient. The Russian T-72 manages about 0.8 miles per gallon, though of course being Europeans, at least in theory, the Russians measure it in kilometers per liter, which works out to 0.38 km/lt.
     Significant because, without fuel, a tank is just a cannon with aspirations. And even with fuel, they’re often merely big rolling funeral pyres.
     War offers a chaos of detail. As we sit and watch, we choose which story lines to absorb, which to ignore. Focusing on what feels good: the heroism of the Ukrainian resistance, the courage of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the unexpected severity of sanctions imposed by governments and businesses. When McDonald’s steps into the fray, you know something unusual is happening.
     Or, we focus on what we feel obligated, as human beings, to consider: the suffering of the Ukrainian people. The hardships facing millions of refugees. The risk to ourselves in this delicate geopolitical moment, with Russia begging China for arms, and European leaders traveling to embattled Kyiv.
     Rather than symbols of strength, all those tanks are an argument for how weak and disorganized the Russians have been. They can barely invade Ukraine, never mind face NATO and the United States. Russia went into this folly without a plan and, apparently, without adequate supplies, not only of fuel, but food, water and ammunition. Some tanks didn’t have to be destroyed; they were merely abandoned.
     When the first images of burning Russian tanks started flitting around Twitter, as well as Ukrainian farmers towing tanks with their tractors, I wondered how the supporting infantry accompanying the tanks let the Ukrainians get close enough to destroy them.
     Now it turns out that the tanks often had no supportive infantry. Nor can they operate off-road because of the season Russian chose for the invasion: too much mud.

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  1. Absolutely brilliant. An angle I sure needed to see. Why I come here (a lot). And I hereby call dibs (in a dibs town!) on the title "A Thousand Tanks Across the Valley of Tears." Cheers.

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  3. Reminds me of a WWII Mauldin cartoon I first saw in his book "Up Front": Willie (or) Joe looks up from digging a foxhole and says to a passing tanker, "No thanks. A moving foxhole attracts too much attention."

  4. "... without fuel, a tank is just a cannon with aspirations."

    That's gold, Jerry. Gold!

    1. *golf clap* Well played, sir.

    2. "And even with fuel, they’re often merely big rolling funeral pyres."

      When the Americans and the British recovered and rebuilt burned tanks in Europe during WWII, the hardest task in making them operational was not getting them running and firing again. It was scraping out every shred of burned flesh, every bit of melted body fat, and then masking the stench. What a horrible job that had to be.

      Even a new interior paint job was often not enough, so special chemicals were employed. Think of it as using a very strong cologne...and, no, not the one in Germany, either. The Ukrainians are probably repeating the process on Russian tanks in WWIII. It's just not being talked about, much less televised.

  5. It's not that easy to take out a tank. Anti-tank weapons can be lethal but have to be deployed close to the target. A tank's most dangerous adversary is a more maneuverable enemy tank with a bigger gun. Too bad Ukraine isn't so equipped.

    When I worked in Army recruiting, we came up with TV commercial that played on the teamwork essential to both team sports and warfare. Unfortunately, it tended to remind me of the essential difference between the two. It closed with a fresh-faced young tank commander proclaiming that when the tank wins the whole team wins. I couldn't help completing the thought: When the tank loses everybody dies.



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