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US military renewing interest in artillery as Russia dominates the battlefield

By Drago Bosnic | September 7, 2022

Artillery has been an integral part of warfare for centuries, but its impact has become exponentially more prominent in the last two centuries, with the advent of the Industrial Revolution and the resulting mass-production economies. The majority of combat deaths in the Napoleonic, First and Second World Wars were fought for the main part with artillery. Napoleon himself said that “God is on the side with the best artillery,” while Joseph Stalin stated that “Artillery is the God of war.” 

Although the Napoleonic Wars and even the Second World War might seem too distant for us to even contemplate any similarities with modern 21st-century warfare, the truth is that little has changed in this regard. Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine has proven this to be true. While air power, drones, long-range missiles and other modern weapons play a significant part in shaping the battlefield, the truth is that artillery is still doing most of the work.

Both the Russian Armed Forces and the Kiev regime’s troops have inherited enormous quantities of artillery from the former Soviet military and both have deployed it en masse. Artillery is playing an indispensable role in determining the balance of power on the ground, with the Kiev regime asking the political West for as many towed and self-propelled guns as possible in order to counter Russia’s dominance. 

The problem is that NATO and other US-aligned countries have put a lot more emphasis on air power, especially as Western combat experience in the last two to three decades indicates that air power alone should be enough to win wars. While this might be true against numerous opponents with no ways to counter the US and NATO air dominance, nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to countries like Russia, which has been a world leader in air defense for over half a century now and is also fielding the second most powerful air force on the planet.

Questioned before the House Armed Services Committee on May 12, Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth and Army Chief of Staff General James McConville both concluded when asked “What are the systems that are going to put you into position to win that fight like the fight that’s playing out in Ukraine?” that long-range artillery and tactical missiles would be essential. General McConville stated that these systems have been key priorities for Army modernization. In addition to tactical missiles, the US Military Industrial Complex is having trouble replacing artillery munitions for the US Army, which is creating problems for both the US itself and the Kiev regime, which cannot hope to match the Russian military’s artillery volume. Back in mid-June, retired US Colonel and former Virginia State Senator Richard H. Black stated:

“Yes, the war is not over, but it is lost. Let me tell you why. This has become an artillery duel: Russia fires 50,000 shells a day, 10 times more than Ukraine. Washington Post says that Ukraine is almost completely without weapons and there were no analogs left from the Soviet era. On June 10, the same Washington Post said that Ukraine was suffering thousands of casualties, including at least 200 killed per day. Casualties doubled in just three weeks. With a population much smaller than the US, Ukraine loses 6,000 soldiers every month, 12 times more than America lost in Vietnam. The Ukrainians fought with courage, but no nation can sustain such huge casualties for long. Ukraine is finished.”

According to Task & Purpose, back in February 2018, the US Army asked Congress for money to buy approximately 150,000 shells for 155mm howitzers. Although this represented an 825% increase in the number of shells the US Army wanted to acquire, the very fact that the Russian military fired as many shells in just three days is a testament to the massive discrepancy in doctrine between the two superpower militaries. 

Since February, the US has provided 806,000 shells for 155mm howitzers and another 108,000 shells for 105mm guns to the Kiev regime, according to the US Department of Defense. That’s close to 1 million shells in approximately six months, and the figure doesn’t even include the precision-guided rockets for the M142 HIMARS that the US military has also handed over to the Neo-Nazi junta forces.

“The use of artillery in warfare has always involved huge expenditures of ammunition,” retired Marine Col. Mark Cancian, with the Center for International Studies think tank in Washington DC, told Task & Purpose. “Artillery expenditures increase substantially when front lines stabilize as has happened in Ukraine,” Cancian added. “When there’s a lot of battlefield movement, artillery expenditures ease off because batteries on the move can’t fire and transportation of ammunition becomes harder. The stabilized front lines and consequent large increases in artillery firing often lead to a ‘shell shortage.'”

“One problem facing the United States now is that much of its industrial capacity to produce artillery shells went away after the end of the [First] Cold War more than 30 years ago, and 155mm shells have a life expectancy of 20 years,” retired Col. said.

The Wall Street Journal has also revealed that defense officials are concerned that the US military’s stockpile of 155mm shells has become “uncomfortably low.” This might soon become a problem for the Kiev regime, as its forces, although already outgunned at 10:1, are burning through artillery munitions much faster than the current Western production capacity can cover.

Drago Bosnic is an independent geopolitical and military analyst.

September 7, 2022 - Posted by | Aletho News | , , ,

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