Combat Video Analysis: Long version Russian Infantry Attack

I have the long version of the Russian Infantry Assault video. This gives a lot more context to the short version, and shows in more detail what is happening. It allows for better analysis. The video was on Telegram, and is 11 minutes long. A friend who speaks Russian was able to translate and add subtitles so the end result is a really useful video. I had all sorts of issues posting it to this blog due to limits on upload. I ended up copying it to my YouTube channel, but YouTube has age restricted it, so to watch it you have to go across to YouTube (see below for the video). However, I have also uploaded the video back onto Telegram, so if you want to watch it there on my channel, with subtitles, go to:

What we have ascertained from the video description is that it is a Russian assault on a Ukrainian position near Kremennay by the 3rd Motor Rifle Division. It appears to be a platoon level dismounted infantry attack through woods onto a ruined section of farm buildings. What is interesting, and my best guess, taking a look at the varying level and complexity of equipment, both on rifles and personal gear, it appears to me that this is likely to be conducted by a small professional cadre, most likely regular troops, leading mobilized and older / less fit personnel. You can see that the guy with the camera (‘Commander’ as he is referred to in the second video), his buddy callsign ‘Handsome’, and perhaps the one who brings Handsome the RPG. seem to be well equipped and well trained regulars, whereas many of the others we can observe have basic equipment, basic AK’s, and seem older and less fit.

This is probably an explanation for the actions we see in the video. A lot of the drive on the attack comes from Commander and Handsome. It appears that Commander is probably a squad leader, and the best position in a skirmish line for a squad leader would be slightly behind the line, where he can get best observation, control and situational awareness. But Commander is in front of the line and takes it upon himself to assault the Ukrainian fighting position. I did an analysis specifically of this assault in my previous blog post of that short video segment (where I nicknamed Commander ‘Ivan’). Here is the link to that post: ‘Analysis of Russian Assault Video.’

So it appears that perhaps three or more of this squad sized unit are professional regular cadre (NCOs), leading less well fit, equipped and motivated mobilized personnel. Does that ring any bells for those of you who are preparing for light infantry operations in a collapse situation? Where you have a mix of levels of training, fitness and motivation? What that says is that there would need to be a lot more leading by personal example, literally from the front, rather than perhaps in the best position to actually conduct that role i.e. as stated the best position for a squad leader, versus what you may actually have to do to get things moving.

Here is the video with subtitles, linking across to YouTube. Or, Telegram here: Please watch it, and what will follow is an analysis of what is happening:

What we can see from this longer video is that roughly a squad sized element is moving forward through the woods in a skirmish line. There are more troops though, perhaps a platoon sized element, that we can see from the second video posted below. So it could well be that this is an echelon attack, with the front squad deployed in a skirmish line, and the remainder of the squads following.

We need to analyze this ‘skirmish line’ aspect. U.S. Army tactics will see the employment of the ‘assault through’ technique. What this would look like at squad level is the squad fire and maneuvering forwards in buddy pair teams. Then when they arrive at the ‘assault line’ (which is roughly grenade range, or about 30 meters) they would conduct the assault, which is the squad moving forwards together ‘on line’ as they move onto and through the position, until the ‘limit of advance ‘ (LOA’) is reached. The context of this is that the enemy position must be suppressed so that they can close to the assault line using fire and maneuver. If you don’t suppress the enemy at all, then you end up dead before your reach the assault line. You are unlikely to be able to suppress all fire as you are moving forwards, but you must ‘win the firefight’ so that you have the best of it, as it were. The idea being that when it comes down to the assault through, most enemy are dead, wounded, or suppressed / hiding, which means that your suppressive fire will be petering off, unless you are shooting enemy bodies as security shots as you move through the position. That is the gist of it. The enemy is ‘always alive when you get there.’ This is the basic technique that we teach on the HEAT 1 classes.

The alternative technique is to ‘fight through’ the enemy position.. What this means is that you never stop the fire and maneuver, until you reach the LOA. But, because of the need to suppress the enemy to your front as you move, as you get closer to the position you will break down the fire and maneuver into smaller elements; as you are bounding, you don’t want elements masking the fire of other elements. This may look like, as you get to roughly the position where the assault line would be in the previous technique, you might break the skirmish line down into individual fire and maneuver. That equals each pair in the line working together as they move – that is often known as ‘pepper-potting’ as the squad moves forward on line, but with each buddy pair working together within the line. It is disorganized to look at, and requires practice and situational awareness, controlled by team and squad leaders who are keeping the line roughly straight and headed on the right axis. You would expect, as per the assault through, for your fire to peter off as you get further through the position towards the LOA, but that may change if there is more depth or retreating enemy to your front. Complications to these techniques is the presence of dug-in fighting positions or even bunkers which may require a specific assault plan to reduce. We teach the fight through technique once we assess that students can handle it on more advanced classes.

In the video, the Russian troops are in a skirmish line, but they seem to be working as individuals as they each make their way forward. There doesn’t appear to be any ‘breaking down of the fire and maneuver’ as described above. Given what I already said about who I think these guys are, with a small professional cadre and mobilized troops, I expect that is why – they simply don’t have the practice or the drills in place. This is also why Commander is to the front and why he and Handsome are taking on a lot of individual actions, including the assault on the fighting position. Commander and the rest of the line seem to be taking reasonably short bounds, but they are a little nonchalant standing behind trees. There is incoming fire and you can see it or hear it in the video.

The photo below is early in the video and shows what looks to be another fighting position made of railroad ties. If so, they are already fighting through the enemy position. You also see various ammo crates broken down as Commander is moving forwards. It is worth noting that the assault is slow and they are trying to locate and suppress the enemy, who many well be moving around in the farm buildings and behind the light green harvester. There is a balance here between maintaining the momentum of the assault, and locating the enemy. You can’t suppress until you have located the enemy. I’ll mention again how uncanny this video is to some of the force on force classes we run (Squad Tactics), with fighting positions laid out in the woods.

At 1:00 in the video one of the professional cadre, possibly Handsome, moves towards Commander and explains there is an enemy hiding behind the light green harvester. He suggests using a grenade launcher. Commander asks who is going to use it, and then the idea seems to die. Commander seems to stutter at this point, probably brought on by the stress of the situation.

I’ll also note, before I forget, that there is a lot of AK stupidity in the video, mainly with reloads. Putting the weapon on the ground in order to conduct a reload. Times when he doesn’t realize he is empty, because the bolt doesn’t lock to the rear on an empty mag on an AK, and then he realized and puts the weapon down to do a reload. You also have to consider the stress of being in command while also having to conduct riflemen activity at the same time as he leads from the front and individually clears fighting positions! Ideally, a squad leader would control the line from just behind it, and hopefully doesn’t need to fire his weapon, or rarely. His job isn’t to fire his weapon, but to control the riflemen to kill the enemy for him!

From 1:00 to 1:50, he is bounding forwards nicely in short bounds, but on his own, with no coordination with the rest of the line or a buddy pair. He is taking cover behind trees but they are not really that adequate for that. It is one of the old dilemmas – go prone, or remain kneeling but be able to move faster, and have better situational awareness. Already noted that with this squad there is a lot of standing behind trees nonchalantly. Perhaps they have faith in their medical cover! The photo below is the best capture I could do from 1:50 in the video where he fires from behind a tree, and then two rounds seem to strike the tree in front of him. He stays where he is, other than seeming to take a knee, and looks around to assess the squad’s fire superiority, asking who is covering the right flank. He knows someone has him in his sights. He then calls for the friendly fire to stop, so he can try and audibly pick up where the enemy is located at.

It is notable that this assaulting squad is dong everything the old school way. They are yelling at each other and communicating by voice from their positions on the skirmish line. It’s all very refreshing to see! No reliance on radios or technology. Old school. It is also notable that after he yells at the enemy asking him where he is, there are calls for the surrender of the Ukrainians. If the enemy surrenders, there is no need for anyone else to die today.

At 3:00 there is one of the incidents where he is going to fire, but then he realized the AK is empty, and puts it on the ground to do a reload.

At 4:00 is where the assault on the fighting position begins. He turns back around to the right and sees the man to the right of him firing across behind him across to the left. This is when he realizes that their is an uncleared fighting position to the left, just in front of the skirmish line. In the previous video analysis, I didn’t have enough context, and thought he had come from behind the skirmish line. It is clear now that he comes from a position in the front center of the skirmish line, and assaults the position across to the left. Essentially, he ends up conducting a right flanking assault on the position, with the skirmish line acting as his base of fire to his left. He has a conversation with Handsome, who at this time is to his left on the line, and they point out the position and he tells Handsome he is going to assault.

In the below photo you can see the skirmish line with a rough location of the enemy position marked in blue. There is still another man to the far left of the line who is not circled below.

Below you can see one of the skirmish line against where the grenade landed just to the left of the fighting position:

Below you can see the same guy, with the far left guy now circled, fighting position in blue to the right:

Below, you can see that far left guy on the skirmish line:

Below, the far left guy comes and joins him at the fighting position after he clears it (where the two Ukrainians are killed). You can see that this guy is older, unfit and poorly equipped. Basic weapon, uniform and equipment. Barely any pouches. My guess is that he is mobilized. He is there in the line, and does aim his weapon, but I never see him fire.

What is interesting, having done the previous post on this, I just can’t see that the Ukrainians didn’t know how close the Russian line was? I noted that they were suppressed in the bottom of their hole, deprived of situational awareness, but they can’t have thought he was another Ukrainian? Particularly if he was dressed in any way like Handsome, with all the red tape? I can only assume that they were in some altered mental state from the stress, the grenade, the guy on the left was injured to his eye, etc.?

From about 5:50 to 8:00 we lose momentum. The fighting position has been cleared. Commander wants Handsome to move up. Handsome has someone bring him up an RPG, but doesn’t know where Commander wants him to use it. He eventually moves forward to another tree, but asks what the target is. It’s simple communication where Commander hasn’t clearly communicated what he wants to happen. At 8:00 Commander realizes this and says that the two of them are going to pair up. At this point again, through personal example, they seize the initiative and move the fight about 25 yards further on to the light green harvester. It may well have been another professional who brought up the RPG for Handsome, and it is the actions of these two cadre that move the line forward and move the assault forward.

The image below is interesting because there is an object that moves from right to left but is fast moving, doesn’t look human, and almost looks like an animal / dog?

From 8:00 till the end, the two soldiers lead by example and buddy pair fire and maneuver up to the green harvester, where they are joined by other mobilized guys, and then they fire the RPG at the building where they have seen a retreating enemy go into. I have no idea why, after they fire the RPG, they call “Smoke Break’! It may have something to do with reaching their LOA, perhaps the mobilized guys who we have noted are older and less fit are tired? You can see in the video how the Russians are festooned in red tape! It’s pretty hard to mistake their identity!

I don’t know what Commander means by needing to assault from downhill, because the video makes everything look flat so its hard to tell, but then the issue raises its head about ammo. This is a huge issue – the guys are running low on ammo and don’t have the ability to continue to support by fire. In Combat, Ammunition = Time. Once you run out of ammo, their is no longer any ability to fire and maneuver. We are going to hit that topic after the second video, which is below and follows on from this one. Note the go pro mounted on Handsome’s helmet.

Below is interesting for the gear heads. We do see many of the guys who I assume to be mobilized with very little personal equipment. The ‘cadre’ guys seem to have gone with dismounted infantry belt kit, as per the British Army. What we are seeing is plate carriers with very little on it, with belt kit with larger pouches. Often the yoke of the belt kit will be worn under the plate carrier.

Below I tried to do a really bad job drawing in safety angles. Commander is shooting where his weapon is pointing, a single shot. Handsome is well within it. Think about a 45 degree angle in training, a 30 degree angle for trained soldiers, and maybe a 15 degree angle in combat. I have a post on this: ‘Range Safety for Classes.’

Below are a couple of photos at the light green harvester. Handsome is on the left in both. Can you see what I mean by the difference in equipment and weapons between Handsome and the two other guys pictured? Plate carriers, no belts, basic AKs and hardly any pouches?

Below: second video. This appears to be filmed from the Go Pro mounted on Handsome’s helmet. It seems that Commander has been wounded, and that may be him as Handsome looks down to his left and you can see a guy in modern looking gear with a tourniquet on his left leg:

Commander wounded:

The action has moved on a little from the green harvester. It appears the Ukrainians are withdrawing. Handsome yells at the mobilized guy on his right to fire his machine gun. He then gets up and moves back past the harvester to the fighting position that Commander seized. As he does so, there are loads of soldiers, mostly seeming to be of the mobilized type. so a platoon or maybe even a company following up behind. He asks if they can help, assuming to mean can they help with suppressing the enemy, and also asks for ammo.

This is big, because I assume it means that there is an issue with the logistics chain for this unit. You need a way to get ammo forward and casualties to the rear. This lead squad / platoon is running low on ammo and will soon be combat ineffective. There should be a platoon sergeant running about distributing ammo and moving casualties to the collection point. That does not appear to be happening, or hasn’t happened yet. Handsome appears to be looking in the fighting position to see if the Ukrainians have any ammo, and then gets a couple of magazines of another guy. That isn’t sufficient, obviously, to replen a platoon!

Does anyone know or can find out the unit or designation of these patches on Handsome’s arms?

So who are Commander and Handsome, and why do they have Go Pros and were allowed to publish the video? Of the various dress states in the video, there are guys looking fairly professional in green, then there are the obviously mobilized guys in all sorts of camo and the old Gorkha suits, and then there are a few guys like Commander and Handsome in multicam and decent gear.

I hope this video didn’t seem too critical of the action? I think it’s a great video and is a good example to show this kind of dismounted infantry combat, warts and all. Both Commander and Handsome do a great job. If anything is critical from this analysis, it may well be what we have identified with this mix of professional cadre leading these mobilized guys. If this squad had all been of the quality of the professional cadre, it would have been a different story, but there appears to be two tiers of ability here, and it seriously changes the dynamic. Particularly if it is impacting onto the logistics side.

How does this analysis apply to you?

For those of you looking for classes at Max Velocity Tactical, we are still running them, but they are all listed on the MVT Forum.

“Out of every one-hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior and he will bring the others back.”

― Heraclitus