“The forces of the assault groups of the unit, with the support of artillery and heavy equipment of the KRAKEN special unit and the forces of the 92nd OMB, carried out a fire raid on the occupied village of Novoselivske, Luhansk region. During the assault, the enemy was knocked out of the settlement, the enemy suffered losses in equipment and personnel, and some of the occupiers were captured. Currently, the village is controlled by the Ukrainian army.”
Comment: This video is one of many put together by the Kraken Regiment’s media section. Obviously, it’s propaganda but it’s still raw battle footage showing what the close fighting is like. The Kraken Regiment is a motorized infantry unit augmented with some heavier weapons, mainly captured since its formation at the start of the war. Unloading from unarmored vehicles that close to Novoselivske was a pretty ballsy move. Back in September, this unit assaulted a village in their HMMMV with 50 cal machine guns and NLAWs. Below are some observations made by a Major Geroux of the Royal Canadian Regiment on this video. First, a little background on the major.
“Major Jayson Geroux is an infantry officer with The Royal Canadian Regiment and currently a member of the directing staff at the Canadian Armed Forces’ Combat Training Centre’s Tactics School. He has been involved in urban operations training for almost two decades and is the school’s urban operations subject matter expert and urban warfare historian, having participated in, planned, executed, and intensively instructed on urban operations for the past seven years. He has served twenty-six years in the Canadian Armed Forces, which included operational tours to the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia-Herzegovina) and Afghanistan.”
Even the fighting for this small Ukrainian town highlights some of the phases, challenges and necessities of urban warfare:
1. Use of assets for aerial surveillance of the urban area;
2. Use of mortars in support;
3. The necessity to hide armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) while in the urban defence. The Russians fail to do that here and they pay the price;
4. Use of indirect fires in support;
5. Breaking in and gaining lodgment can be chaotic;
6. High ammunition expenditure;
7. When dismounts are moving “slow is smooth, smooth is fast;”
8. Good to see the Ukrainians using AFVs in support;
9. The necessity of training for close quarter combat;
10. The collateral damage outside and inside a building which makes it challenging to approach and clear;
12. The challenges of communicating in combat;
13. Be careful with the use of tracer rounds; the enemy will see from where you are firing;
14. Be prepared for enemy counter-artillery fire because now they know you’re in the town. Seek shelter soonest; and
15. The need for all fighters to train for casualty triage and challenging urban casualty evacuation (@Zarelepotec).
Further Comment: Urban fighting remains an important aspect of modern warfare. It has always been important. My introduction to this aspect of warfare was during IOBC at Fort Benning. An infantry captain from the Royal Australian Regiment was the primary instructor. He showed an initial film of urban combat scenes “choreographed” to Petula Clark’s 1964 hit “Downtown.” I can no longer hear that song without thinking of city fighting. I vividly remember his heavily accented refrain “Swisho! Right up the old cakehole!” when describing how to attack armor from basement and second story windows with LAWs, Dragons and recoiless rifles. It was important to ensure we had sufficient backblast area for such attacks.
In the 25th ID we continued to prepare for urban combat. It became more important when our division commander told us about our secondary mission of reinforcing the defense of Europe. The plan was to have our lighter than light companies and platoons hole up in German villages to take on the Soviet armored hordes. What we lacked in weaponry, we tried to make up with an over abundance of picks, shovels and axes.
Major Geroux and Colonel John Spencer, chair of urban warfare studies at West Point’s Modern War Institute, wrote a good overview of urban warfare just before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I’m sure they’ll have more case studies and lessons learned to add once this war is over.