Ukrainian 47th Mechanized Brigade has a new commander, who sends everybody to storm enemy positions.

The situation around 47th Mechanized Brigade Magura, one of the spearheads of the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south, doesn’t look good. The military unit, alongside 82nd Air Assault Brigade, was the main force to break through Russian lines in the south during the summer counter-offensive. The fighters of Magura met heavy resistance, eventually managed to break through Russian lines and liberated Robotyne settlement, but at serious cost and far from the original goals.

Lt. Col. Oleksandr Sak was removed from the command of 47th Mechanized Brigade Magura in September 2023. The reasons are unknown, officials denied to comment on this topic, but it’s rumored his dismissal is connected to the brigade’s performance on the battlefield. Sak became the commander of the brigade after its creation in 2022, and previously served in 93rd Mechanized Brigade.

The new commander of 47th Mechanized Brigade has been appointed Col. Oleksandr Pavliy, who previously commanded 112th Territorial Defense Brigade Kyiv. However, according to fighters of the brigade, he failed to understand the brigade structure.

Col. Oleksandr Pavliy | photo: Unian

As claimed by soldiers of anti-tank missile unit of Magura in now removed video appeal, the brigade’s command refuse to admit the brigade lost its offensive potential. Instead, command sends mortar crews, snipers, artillery crews, basically all it has available to the front as assault infantry. Soldiers who published these accusations reportedly refused to carry such orders, saying that a transfer of military specialists to positions unrelated to their education and training is a crime. As expected, it was later decided to disband the anti-tank missile unit.

According to users on social media, this is common practice among several brigades. The rear elements are disbanded and soldiers transferred to the front, without proper training. Such tactics lead to unnecessary casualties and lose of combat potential of a unit.

47th Mechanized Brigade is a military formation of Ukrainian Ground Forces, created in 2022 by Valery Markus and Ivan Shalamaga. On July 11, Valery Markus asked to be demoted due to disagreement with decisions made regarding deployment and development of the brigade. Magura is equipped with M2 Bradley IFVs and Leopard 2A6 tanks.

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Max Beckhaus

Not the first time that this brigade produces news in such a direction. In any case, if this is common practice in the AFU, it is very short sighted. This war will likely last very long and there will definitely not be a short way to Ukrainian victory.

Noelle

you asked what kind of shortage AFU has – well, there is the answer: skilled officers. Especially at the mid staff level (mayors/colonels). You can make lt in one night (sargeant will show him/her the way) but making a competent staff officer takes years.

Max Beckhaus

More like skilled anything really, a problem that every big war brings. Zalushni said something like this: Every big war is started by professionals and ended by civilians. It is a grand make do on the fly which obviously includes many mistakes producing death and suffering.

Noelle

that’s an old saying (popular since WWI). Just like another (from WWII) ‘generals today plans for the yesterday war’ (there is a few versions actually). Anyway – the point is – there is a problem and with reaching deeper to the reserves, that including officers’ one, it will be deepening. And it is demoralising for the troops. RU has got the same problem in even bigger scale but ->

Noelle

-> is willing to swallow the cost and solve problem by throwing more shit on the wall.

Max Beckhaus

Well, if Ukraine is not willing to swallow the costs of basic consequences of a major war of attrition, it will have to settle affairs with Russia. I have the feeling that most in Ukraine think that they must not show weakness and I agree. So my best guess is, that they will swallow it and adapt to a long war of attrition. I personally think that they are well lead at the top, that… Read more »

Kay

The top is responsible for goal setting. Implementation is the responsibility of the individual brigades. The UA’s command structure is highly decentralized, which certainly has something to do with the years of fighting by the separate brigades in Donbass. They were often on their own. At the beginning of the war, the UKR was able to use this to its advantage…

Kay

as the superiors at the front had the authority to command. Unlike RU… Their armed forces were sluggish, slow and inflexible. A counter example is Wagner, who also fought decentrally and therefore advanced faster and adapted better to the situation.
Now the UKR has the prob that these experienced officers who acted independently in combat and made decisions without command are no longer there

Kay

That’s why inexperienced officers are now making wrong decisions, which the command has no direct influence on. However, decentralized leadership requires very experienced soldiers with outstanding tactical knowledge. You can’t learn something like this in months, it takes years.

Noelle

well. I can teach you being an inf. platoon commander in a 1/2h (assuming that you can read the map and using the gun). Just make a decision (and pray that it is the right one) and pass this to the srg. It would not hurt asking the E5/6 “what the f*k we should do” in the 1st place, too.
I won’t make the batallion staff officer from a line one –>

Noelle

–> or even office manager (neither I would be able to do that job, xxxx hours in HOI and mandatory junior officer service is not a proper qualification), unfortunatelly. That needs a proper teaching for a proper time and a lot of experience.

Noelle

everyone either adapt or die (or adapt and die).The concern – and staying silent about it would be a grave mistake – is the level of institutional learning and adaptation. Guys and gals in the trenches, even completely green are not a concern. Institution of the army is. We are no longer (for a long time btw) in the improvised state when even corruption may be beneficial –>

Noelle

–> because if you can navigate corrupted institution, you are also able to make shit done when everything fails or got screwed (that’s the magic of ‘Polish plumber’ etc.). Now, however, is the time to develop routines, predicable and adaptable schemes and all that boring stuff. The “[put most popular Ukr name] does wonders using stick and stone” phase is done. –>

Noelle

For that you need competent staff and specialists. And unlike Putin’s deranged dictatorship for Ukr. lifes of its own citizens are precious enough to make ‘swallow and throw more’ method is not an option. This is recipe for self-annihilation. Getting that staff is not a trivial task.

Max Beckhaus

Very interesting, all of it. Thank you. People, me included, tend to understimate the human factor over gear numbers. Since what you outline as problem, can not be solved soon. I would think, that Ukraine still has a higher speed to adapt to these problems than Russia, out of motivation and system advantages. But all in all I would take away, that the pure numbers get more important,

Max Beckhaus

and that could explain some of the battlefield dynamics.

Andrew

This is the area where I really wish I knew how to do something to help Ukraine more. I kind of randomly spent a lot of time in grad school studying exactly how prior military organizations scaled up in a short while.

We desperately need entire UKR brigades to go to a training center in the US for 4 months or so. Not to learn, but to co-develop tactics and practices. US has this capacity.

Andrew

What I mean by ‘not learning’ is not going through the basic NATO standard motions and checklists derived from Cold War doctrine.

To build a pro mid-level officer corps in a short time requires a very specific kind of training program that requires taking formations into the field and practicing large-scale movements. This has to happen on a large-scale. Need US CONUS bases to do it.

Kay

I don’t know if it’s good to learn from the Americans without even having their equipment. Many UA soldiers complain about the poor training, which had absolutely nothing to do with the situation in Ukraine.

Max Beckhaus

There simply is no time for this anyways. The brigades they have now, may get some rotation and reconstitution if necessary. If Ukraine wants to buy time for training of mid level officers and brigades, that would mean freezing the conflict, or at least going all out defensive. That would mean a major shift in overall strategy. I am not entirely convinced that this would be a sound strategy.

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