The strength of the militia is certainly – high motivation. People are fighting for their homes, volunteers – for the idea. Fighting valiantly, with passion. Courageous. Accept losses as a given. Do not panic. Learn fast. Before, when I used to organize training of specialists, I could only dream of such soldiers! People worked their tails off. Artillery calculations, tank crews literally grasping in days what usually took weeks.
The absolute authority of commanders. They will follow their commanders to the end of the earth. Unlike UAF, where a nomination for any post is a complicated bureaucratic process, and is often not associated with any abilities of candidates, but only with their connections to superiors or membership of a particular political group, command positions of the militia are held by the most brave and capable fighters regardless of rank and seniority. Natural selection, so to speak …
Types of troops:
Infantry – exceptionally motivated, but the level of training leaves much to be desired. However, this is offset by the bravery and initiative.
Tank units spread out among the troops. Trained well, but like UAF tank units, are used to provide fire support to the infantry. In contrast to UAF, militia protects its tanks and covers them with infantry, so the level of losses of military equipment is incomparable.
Artillery – highly trained, well-organized, went through the full course of training. ‘Northerners’ were in charge of that, and they have done their job well.
Operational command of the militia is also staffed by professionals with special military education and extensive experience of engagement in other hot spots. This command center is quite capable of organizing and carrying out effective operations oo division-corps scale, but that’s where the weaknesses of the militia begin.
The main weakness of the militia can be described in one word – ‘makhnovshina’. [Makhno was a Ukrainian anarchist]
At the time of my leaving DPR there was no unity of the defending force whatsoever. And you need to be aware that there is no such thing – as an army of Novorossia. Instead, there are dozens of groups of different size, organization and armament.
With the renaming of Donetsk militia into a ‘regular army’, as a matter of fact, nothing changed. However, often the size of each group is not only and not so much a measure of operational effectiveness, as an indicator of a weight of a field commander on the territory under its control. As a result, each field commander has to solve the problem of supplying his squad. Everyone is looking to arrange their channels of ‘humanitarian aid’, and each develops his relations with ‘voentorg’.
And the wider these channels – the bulkier the supplies, the higher the rank of a field commander, and the larger the territory he controls. The saddest thing is that this access to supply and control of the territory – are the main obstacles to uniting the forces. After all, some of the money on ammunition, food, communications, on salaries and bonuses – all of it is ‘collected’ from the ‘territory’, like – cars, homes, warehouses, etc. And sometimes it is done somewhat amicably – official taxes on local businesses, but more often than not, it’s simply ‘taken’ – a robbery, simply put.
When I was there, ‘zindany ‘ [Middle-Eastern style jails] for stubborn ‘sponsors’ were almost obligatory attribute of most major militia headquarters. To unite under a common authority, means – losing the power, supply channels and control of the territory that feeds almost all field commanders. That is, to lose a major source of resources.
[KR comment: A. In a war it’s not all black and white, there is a lot of grey. B. Look at it as a ‘tax jail’ C. In the absence of a state, militia took its place as a local security structure, but they require funding, and ‘taxing’ the population in exchange for providing security is an age-old method. D. According to my local sources, the usual victims are the former ‘ruling class’, who had previously helped empty the state coffers. E. This is also used as a makeshift jail, in the absence of a regular police, whose functions became the responsibility of the militia]
But even worse, under the guise of militia, the territory of Novorossia is roamed by the ‘Indians’ – dozens of ordinary gangs which literally terrorize the local population. Under the flags of DPR they reak havoc – rob, rape and murder. There are whole villages which came under the control of the ‘Indian ‘gangsters. And cracking down on them is not easy. Field commanders don’t have time for them, they worry about the control of their own territory and solving their own issues, while there is no police or court services in DPR and LPR.
[KR: While NAF commanders are busy with winning battles and their new responsibilities of supplying and feeding their battalions, and municipal funding from Kiev has dwindled, certain marginal elements present on the fringes of every society have come out to the surface and have exploited the situation for their own benefit. Russian criminal elements do not have a moral superiority on their Ukrainian counterparts. They are having a free-for-all during a short window of a sudden period of anarchy. However, some of those characters were also spotted digging trenches and being useful to the militia.]
Therefore, with a sufficiently large number of the militia (and in August it was about twenty thousand fighters) their military effectiveness is low. They fight well in a city, staunchly defending, but due to the ‘fortification psychology’ and almost complete discoordination, they are virtually incapable of modern maneuverable warfare. Outside of the cities and villages the militia only did reconnaissance and kept up checkpoints on key roads, leaving entire directions without cover. Ukrainian command found this weakness by mid-July, and then looked for such gaps in militia defence with recon raids and conducted localized offensives, deeply cutting into defenses of the militia. By mid-July, virtually the entire territory of DPR and LPR was chopped up into chunks by such blows. And again, only the help of the ‘northerners’ has transformed the chunks into cauldrons of UAF. The militia was only used for sweeping the territory after our work, and smashing the retreating formations of UAF.
Translated by Kristina Rus