Things that really matter


I spent a quarter century paying much attention to military affairs, including military hardware.

This included discussions about motor vehicles, armoured vehicles, assault rifles, machineguns, artillery pieces, combat aircraft, missiles, camouflage patterns - even the details of clothes tailoring, quality of gloves and boots led to intense debates and people declaring their favourites.

And now? There's a real, conventional war among Europeans again - not some occupation mission in some sandpit or another.

I didn't see any feedback about this or that assault rifle (of the gazillion different types used) being oh-so great and superior. I didn't see this with machineguns, either. Even the Maxim does still satisfy its users in its original role. Both sides use whatever motor vehicle and armoured vehicle they can get to move under own power. I saw so far no praise for the more modern tank types in use, and only sporadic praise for armoured transport vehicles having done their job of stopping flying chunks of metal. I have absolutely no confirmation for the notion that it matters to have tactical pants of this or that particular brand.

It appears that decent equipment used by motivated and skilled men works; at most times 1980's tech appears to suffice.

Very few items of equipment appear to stand out. In my opinion these are (in no particular order):

  • area air defences that keep surviving, can shoot down cruise missiles at 60 m altitude and force hostile ground attack aircraft to fly lower than that
  • very short range air defences that shoot down UAVs and force even the very low-flying ground attack aircraft to fly very cautious and thus ineffective attacks only (rocket lobbing)
  • morale-boosting anti-MBT weapons/munitions
  • night vision advantage (especially thermal sights that make locating troops easy day and night)
  • felt-lined rubber boots that keep feet dry and healthy in mud and water
  • equipment to intercept and eavesdrop on mobile phone calls and non-encrypting tactical radios
  • satellite imagery capable of locating even small munitions dumps (though this may also be the work of clandestine agents)
  • huge quantities of indirect fire HE munitions (60/81/82/105/120/122/152/155 mm)

  • apparently huge quantities of simple pressure-fused anti-tank mines
  • sensors to patiently locate and identify targets for artillery fires
  • well-working and not too-compromising radio comms (platoon and up)
  • some precision strike munitions (Excalibur, GUMLRS)
  • grenade-dropping RC multicopters
  • ultra-cheap cruise missiles
  • cold weather clothes and sleeping bags
  • use of private smartphones to stay in contact with friends & family (for morale)*

This list is a product of battlefield experiences and a three-stage filter (What was documented? What made it to the internet? What was translated to English?).

Nevertheless, it permits the conclusion that the emphasises of fanbois, the emphasises of arms makers and the emphasises of Western land forces in the past 30 years are a terribly poor match with the realities of the Russo-Ukrainian War.

This can in part be excused by how differently they fight this war. I'm confident that NATO armies would have produced higher rates or artillery, tanks and radar-based air defences. I'm also confident that the Russians would not have held a front-line against NATO forces for that long unless the NATO forces chose to not even attempt a breakthrough. Mobile warfare leads to very different combat actions than harassing fires and attacks with limited objectives along static, dug-in frontlines.



*: I'm actually not sure whether the downsides outweigh this upside.



  1. The mobile phone means that people feel lost without such an instant connection. How can a system for communication with friends and family be integrated into a soldier's standard gear without compromising security?

  2. I suspect minefield breaching/clearance equipment (or lack thereof) has played a significant role here too.

  3. You're 100% correct that we have this massive war where there is various small arms and other equipment being tested in battle yet there is zero feedback or discussion about them which to me is shocking. People have filled massive books droning on about the differences between various WW2 small arms, yet I feel like with this war no one really cares. Maybe we have reached the point in small arms (and even armoured vehicles for that matter) where they all more or less perform the same in the field even if certain designs maybe superior to others. It seems like what makes a real difference is the technology and what it is mounted to it (thermals, missile aiming systems, etc.).

    Anyhow, you should check out Valgear's channel on YouTube as he seems to be one of the few people that does hands on reviews with the various equipment that is being used on the frontline based on his actual combat experience with the weapons.