South African Military History Society


Newsletter / Nuusbrief 212
May/MeiApril 2022

Inclusive of Supplementary Newsletter 004 May 2022

SAMHSEC 11 April 2022 meeting

Adam Ranger spoke about bio-diversity management in post conflict areas. Adam is a conservationist with extensive experience in post-conflict re-establishment of game conservation in Southern and Central Africa. The talk was primarily about the damage caused by the wars in Angola and the recovery efforts after the peace.

In the wars, wildlife was decimated in large areas of the country and some species became extinct.

After the peace, poaching was destroying the efforts to re-establish the wildlife and, besides dealing with poachers with automatic weapons, landmines and infrastructure that had been destroyed during the wars and not replaced, Adam detailed the progress to return wildlife to the affected areas and rebuild local communities.

The recording of Adam’s talk is in the SAMHS Zoom library.

The text of Adam’s talk is on the SAMHS website.

SAMHSEC RPC 25 April 2022

SAMHSEC requested the pleasure of the company of military historians to talk about military history on 25 April 2022.

In session 1, Franco Cilliers spoke about military aspects of the Russia-Ukraine War 2022.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia is a continuation of the ongoing war between Russia, Russian backed separatists and Ukraine. This war has received a lot of attention due it being a full-scale conventional war, the existence of social media and the presence of smartphones in the conflict area. This has led to the public experiencing the war through non-traditional media outlets.

The initial Russia invasion came from four different axes and the Russians wanted to try manoeuvre warfare aka high-speed, low drag method of warfare by charging into Ukraine with surprise and speed to confuse and overrun the Ukrainians, similar to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. This method is not the Russian way of warfare. In addition, the Ukrainians were able to put up stiff resistance, unlike in 2014. There were four axes of advance:

• The North/Belorussia towards Kyiv were the famous 40-mile convoy was stuck;

• The Northeast axis towards Kyiv;

• The Eastern Axis heading towards Kharkov heading towards Crimean area via Dnipro to cut off the Ukrainian troops fighting in the Donbas;

• The Southern front coming from Crimea, heading west towards Odessa and East towards Mariupol. The eastern link is intended to create a land bridge between Crimea and the Donbas area.

When the Kyiv axis attacks from the north and northeast were not successful by the end of the March, the Russians started to withdraw and move their forces to reinforce the Eastern and Southern axes.

The cause of the failure of the attacks towards Kyiv will only be fully known in the future, but it may be attributed to three factors: Rasputitsa, which is the Russian word for the time of mud due to snow melt, the three B’s of Beans, Bullets and Black oil and unsuitable tactics.

The Russian Army is an army of artillery, rockets and mortars. Artillery dominates the Russian way of war from the Tzar’s army until today. The organisation of the 2nd Guards Motor Rifle Division illustrates this by each brigade having at its disposal 18 self-propelled howitzers. The divisional troops have 36 152mm self-propelled howitzers and 18 multiple rocket-launcher batteries, so 90 self-propelled howitzers, 24 120mm howitzers and 18 multiple rocket-launcher batteries for the division.

Each brigade has only two logistics companies, namely a material support company and a maintenance company. The division also has a logistics battalion. The Russian Army is heavily dependent on rail transport for logistic support. As the army advances from the railhead, it becomes more dependent on trucks. The Russian Army only has enough trucks assigned to its logistics formations to provide support out to 150 kms. If it needs to provide support further than that distance, it needs more trucks.

The sinking of the Moskva came as a bit of a surprise to the world. The Moskva was commissioned in 1983 with two purposes: to sink enemy warships and to provide air defence to the fleet. What is unknown at this point is how many missiles were launched at the ship. We know two missiles hit the ship. It seems that at least one of the missiles hit close to or on one of the SSM launcher tubes. The presence of a drone is mentioned in news reports. Was the drone conducting electronic warfare?

The ship was equipped with three layers of hard kill equipment: long range SAM, short range SAM and CIWS. In addition, various soft kill systems such as chaff and ECM equipment were also available. Was everybody asleep, was there an equipment malfunction, were more missiles launched than the two mentioned in the news reports?

The battery used is normally deployed with 16 missiles. Were some missiles shot down or spoofed and only two-got through?

Modern warships are similar to boxers with glass jaws. They can deal a lot of punishment and defend themselves well, but if they are hit, it is not going to go well. Casualties according to Russia are one dead and 27 missing.

Drones and anti-tank missiles have come to dominate the media reports regarding the war, which make it seem as if this is the first war in which these weapons were used. In fact, drones, anti-tank, surface to air and anti-ship missiles have been used in the past in various conflicts. Drones enable infantry platoons to have situational awareness and see what is moving towards it and where it needs to go. Drones have enabled mortar teams to direct and correct their own fire without the use of forward observers. They have democratised air power.

One of the first successful uses of drones was during the 1982 invasion by Israel of Lebanon when Israel used drones to mislead Syrian air defence into betraying their locations and enabling them to be destroyed.

Anti-tank missiles made their debut in 1973 during the Yom Kippur war. The Israelis were perplexed as to why the Egyptians were crossing the Suez Canal with suitcases only to discover that they contained AT-3 Sagger missiles. It is claimed by Russian sources that Sagger missiles knocked out 800 Israeli vehicles.

SAM missiles first well-known debut was the Vietnam War. The mujahedeen used US supplied Stingers to shoot down Soviet Hind and Hip helicopters in Afghanistan.

Anti-shipping missiles’ debut was the 1967 six-day war when the Egyptians sank an Israeli destroyer with a SS-N-2 Styx.

The Javelin that we hear about in the media is a US developed ATGM was designed to replace the Dragon missile system in US service and has had considerable export success. The missile is a fire, forget weapon, and can be set to fly directly to the target or do a top attack on the target. Depending on version, Javelin has 2 500m or 4 000m engagement range. The cost is $250 000 per missile and the launcher is $ 250 000. The launcher is reusable.

The Bayraktar TB2 drone has endurance of 27 hours. It has four hard points rated at 27 kg per hard point. It has proven extremely useful.

In session 2, Malcolm Kinghorn spoke on International Humanitarian Law as background to the allegations of war crimes being committed in the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.

International Humanitarian Law, also known as the Law of Armed Conflict, is a specific field of public international law that regulates the conduct of parties engaged in armed conflicts and seeks to limit the consequences of armed conflicts. The International Committee of the Red Cross as the lead humanitarian organisation in International Humanitarian Law, has published a comprehensive introduction to International Humanitarian Law, which is available as a free download from the International Committee of the Red Cross’ website, see comprehensive-introduction.

The book is recommended to better understand the implications of the allegations of war crimes being committed in the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.

The recording of Malcolm’s talk is in the SAMHS Zoom library.

SAMHSEC 9 May 2022 meeting

André Rudman is to speak about Anti-Submarine Warfare in the South African Navy from 1922 to 1945.

SAMHSEC RPC 30 May 2022

SAMHSEC Requests the Pleasure of your Company to talk about military history on 30 May 2022.

Session 1

Ian Pringle will tell the story of Moskow – a remarkable horse of the Anglo Boer War; a black stallion captured by General Kritzinger from the King family in Bedford, its return and subsequent show successes.

Session 2

Mac Alexander will review the book “Eerste Daar” by General Kaas van der Waals.


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