June 17, 2018 at 6:42 pm #59401dave37Participant
This book is a memoir of the author’s participation in the Donbass War, on the separatist side, in the summer and fall of 2014. It would be of interest to those who are wondering what a civil war in a modern country, fought largely by volunteer militias, would look like.
The first half of the book was most interesting to me. Fedorov spent about a month at the front, participated in a couple of skirmishes and one pretty good battle, got wounded, and then spent the remainder of the book as a security guard for a government agency in the Donetsk People’s Republic government. Fedorov, along with the majority of the men in his unit, had no meaningful military experience. They had basic infantry weapons only – PKMs, grenade launchers, RPGs, recoilless rifles, mortars. The opposing Ukrainian forces had artillery and armored vehicles. No significant air cover on either side at this time. Fedorov describes the location so well that you can pull up the battlefield on Google Maps, and actually see what he is talking about, which was pretty cool.
If you are reading the book to learn useful lessons about small unit tactics, you probably won’t get any. Probably due to the untrained, pick-up nature of the separatist forces, there’s a lot more fire than there is maneuver. The entire combat portion of the book was the defense of a bridge and road junction, so it was a purely defensive fight for Fedorov. On the separatist side, I thought it was a decent illustration of the defense in depth principle. They had small trench/bunker complexes held by single squads, spread out across the area, with antitank weapons sited for good angles of fire. At one point, Fedorov’s squad counterattacked to get to a position where they could destroy a stalled tank with RPG fire. The attacking Ukrainians seemed to just line the infantry up next to the armor and charge forward like it was 1918, usually with bad results.
A couple of things made an impression on me:
-The importance of training and experience! Fedorov’s squad had only one guy with any combat experience, the squad leader. This guy (known only as “Grim”) was in Bosnia in the 90s as a Russian volunteer. In much of the fighting, it seemed as though the rest of the squad were just ammo bearers for Grim. At most, the rest of the squad was capable of meaningful action only when given specific orders from Grim (on the order of “Shoot the hell out of those bushes right there where the infantry is hiding while I fire the RPG at the tank!”)
-For a scratched together force with few trained personnel, no time working together, and light weapons only, the separatists didn’t do half bad. They held off a superior force with tanks and artillery, and as of today the Donetsk People’s Republic is still around. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, as frankly I don’t understand the causes of the war well enough to give a damn, but it’s still fairly impressive.
The author is not a native speaker of English, and his usage of the language is odd at times, but it is still an easy read. You can skip the last half of the book if you want. $4.70 on Kindle, or free with Kindle Unlimited. Overall, I give it 3 glasses of vodka out of 5.
Texas CTT/Mobility 2017, Missouri 1 Day CQB 2017, Texas HEAT 2 2018, Operation TeaSinker 2019
Team Coyote, Team Cowbell
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.