Ukraine at D+278: Bakhmut remains Russia's face-saving objective.
N2K logoNov 29, 2022

Bakhmut becomes Russia's prestige objective as indiscriminate shelling of towns continues wherever Russian systems are in range. US Cyber Command describes its support for Ukraine's defense.

Ukraine at D+278: Bakhmut remains Russia's face-saving objective.

Russia continues to attack cities, towns, and villages with artillery and missiles, according to Al Jazeera, but it seems to be staking its claims to success and battlefield prowess on the capture of Bakhmut, the Wall Street Journal reports, where it continues to commit such high-quality forces as it may be said to retain, specifically, airborne and Wagner Group formations. Those organizations have recently been significantly diluted with infusions of indifferently trained, ill-equipped, and poorly motivated conscripts (in the case of the airborne) and convicts (in the case of the Wagner Group). Russia continues to deny any intention of retreating from  Zaporizhzhia, but Ukrainian intelligence sources say otherwise. Among the principal indications of an impending retreat are signs of unusually heavy looting, with the booty being packed up for shipment home. That pattern has been seen before on the eve of other Russian retreats.

Failure of flexibility (and of combined arms integration).

Battalion tactical groups have proven less flexible than the Russian army had expected. "Over the last three months, Russian forces in Ukraine have likely largely stopped deploying as Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs)," the UK's Ministry of Defence writes in this morning's situation report. "The BTG concept has played a major part in Russian military doctrine for the last ten years, and saw battalions integrated with a full range of supporting sub-units, including armour, reconnaissance and (in a departure from usual Western practice) artillery. Several intrinsic weaknesses of the BTG concept have been exposed in the high intensity, large-scale combat of the Ukraine war so far. BTGs’ relatively small allocation of combat infantry has often proved insufficient. Decentralised distribution of artillery has not allowed Russia to fully leverage its advantage in numbers of guns; and few BTG commanders have been empowered to flexibly exploit opportunities in the way the BTG model was designed to promote."

US Cyber Command describes support for Ukraine's cyber defense.

US Cyber Command yesterday released a brief and general account that provides some additional insight into when US support for Ukraine's cyber defense began, and what the nature of that support was. The US Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF) deployed a large hunt forward team in December of last year to work with Ukraine's own Cyber Command; that initial deployment continued through March of this year. Despite the aggressive-sounding name, "hunt forward" operations are, US Cyber Command says, defensive in nature. The hunting is conducted in the networks being defended. "Hunt forward operations are purely defensive activities and operations are informed by intelligence."

While US Cyber National Mission Force personnel are no longer physically deployed in Ukraine, continued direct support of Ukraine's cyber defense continues. "CYBERCOM remains committed and continues to provide support to Ukraine, other allies and partner nations, with U.S. joint forces aligned and supporting the European Theater. This support included information sharing of threats and cyber insights, such as indicators of compromise and malware. For example, in July 2022, CNMF publicly disclosed novel indicators to cybersecurity industry partners in close collaboration with the Security Service of Ukraine."