During the Ukrainian counteroffensive this fall, Ukrainian troops surrounded the town of Lyman.
Lyman is an important hub in eastern Ukraine, and a larger Russian force was trapped there.
Russian troops at Lyman and those that withdrew suffered heavy casualties, including an elite GRU unit.
As September rolled around, everyone expected the Ukrainian army to launch a major attack on Kherson in the south.
For weeks, Ukrainian forces have used US-supplied M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems to launch long-range precision strikes on Russian supply lines and communications networks in the south -eastern Ukraine.
However, the Ukrainians surprised the Russians and the world by launching a swift counter-offensive in the east around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city. In just a few days, Ukrainian forces liberated hundreds of square kilometers of territory and dozens of villages.
The fact that the Russian high command decided to amass considerable forces in the south to defend Kherson, from which Moscow eventually withdrew in November, helped the Kyiv counteroffensive, which cut through Russian lines like a hot knife. in butter and repeatedly flanked by large Russian formations. – including in a major logistics center in the far east of Ukraine.
The Battle of Lyman
The town of Lyman quickly became the center of attention when Ukrainian forces partially surrounded it in the last days of September, trapping a large Russian garrison there.
Lyman is a key logistics node commanding an important route on the Siverskyy Donets River in Ukraine’s Donetsk region. His loss deepened Russian setbacks in the final weeks of the summer and stoked the ire of pro-war commentators in Russia.
British military intelligence assessed after the battle that the Russian force defending Lyman was a hodgepodge of mobilized reservists and depleted units of professional troops.
The Ukrainians offered the huge number of Russian soldiers trapped in Lyman the opportunity to surrender. The Russians chose to retreat under cover of darkness, but suffered heavy casualties from Ukrainian ambushes and long-range strikes.
After the battle, the BBC Russian Service reported that the reconnaissance company of the GRU’s 3rd Guards Spetsnaz Brigade was caught up in the fighting and suffered heavy casualties, losing up to nine personnel, the most for it. in one battle so far in the war. .
Based on its own research and that of the Russian media and volunteers, the BBC estimated that 56 members of the brigade had been killed since Moscow launched its invasion in February. While the size of the brigade is classified, the BBC said 75% of the unit’s troops may have been killed or wounded so far, based on estimates of Russian unit attrition in Ukraine.
The BBC based its report on the Lyman toll on interviews with family members and a review of posts on the VKontakte social network from September 30 to October 1.
A VK post said the brigade had been “devastated” and “thrown into the meat grinder”, according to a translation by the Moscow Times.
Difficult to replace
The GRU is the Russian military intelligence agency. It conducts several different sets of missions, including human intelligence, cyber espionage, sabotage, and assassination. Its Spetsnaz commando cadre is among the best in the Russian military.
It will be difficult to replace these losses. Competent special operators require years of basic and advanced military training, as well as training appropriate to their missions. By the time they join an operational unit, their military has invested millions of dollars to prepare them.
One of the fundamental tenets of the US Special Operations community is that “Special Operations Forces cannot be mass produced” and that the US Operator Training pipeline can last for years.
It can take six months between boot camp, selection and evaluation for soldiers to join the 75th Ranger Regiment, the world’s first light infantry special operations unit. It can take over a year and a half to become a Navy SEAL and over two years to become an Air Force Pararescueman.
After years of standard and advanced military training, Tier 1 U.S. special operations units, such as the Army’s Delta Force, require additional screening and an advanced operator training course that can take upwards of six months and eliminate even experienced troops.
The Russian military as a whole is taking a heavy hit in Ukraine, although casualty estimates vary widely. General Mark Milley, the US Army’s top general, said in early November that Russia had probably suffered “well over 100,000” troops killed and wounded.
Moscow launched what it called a “special military operation” with only part of its army and has since announced a “partial mobilization” to call in more troops. Its losses were so heavy that special operations troops were often used as regular infantry to try to plug holes in Russian lines.
Poor planning also led to the misuse of elite Russian units, such as the vaunted VDV Airborne Forces, which were defeated in a failed effort to capture an airport near Kyiv in the early days of the war.
Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a veteran of the Hellenic Army (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ) and a graduate of Johns Hopkins University. He is preparing a master’s degree in strategy and cybersecurity at the Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies.
Read the original article on Business Insider
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