A Broad View by Jerry Hogan: Some current military observations

ROCKWALL, TX (Feb. 17, 2023) And the mystery continues. Why didn’t we shoot down the Chinese spy balloon that crossed the entire United States before our military finally shot it down as it passed over our Eastern coast?

That, in my opinion, is a good question. Ask yourself, “What if that would have been one of our balloons floating over China? Do you think they would have shot it down”?

The mystery continues!

Another interesting observation.

For a variety of reasons, the Department of Defense appointed a commission to look at the names of existing Army bases to determine if the names should be changed.

The result of that study is in, and nine current Army Fort names will be changed to better reflect today’s current society. For example, five of those Forts include Fort Bragg, North Carolina, home of the 82nd Airborne, which will now become Fort Liberty. Fort Benning , Georgia, home of the Infantry School and where our paratroopers are trained, will now be named Fort Moore. Fort Hood, just down the road here in Texas will be renamed Fort Cavazos. Two others, Fort Gordon, Georgia, where are Signal troops are trained, will become Fort Eisenhower, and Fort Rucker, Alabama, where are helicopter pilots are trained,  will be named Fort Novosel.

Going to be tough to remember these new names after the scores of years when we were in the know on the older ones.

For this next observation I must insert a caveat: the only thing that I personally know about the war between Russia and the Ukraine is what I read in the newspaper or see on TV. I have no personal knowledge, nor do I have any acquaintances or friends that have provided me information about any aspect of that war.

But I do have 20 years in the Army where I spent over four and a half years in a Mechanized Infantry Division in Europe with the mission of stopping a tank heavy Russian incursion into Western Germany.

The observation is about the subject of tanks where the President of Ukraine has requested from the US, as well as some European countries, that we provide his forces tanks to help in their struggle.

The US has agreed to provide 31 modern main battle tanks after they are built, and Germany has indicated they would provide 14 tanks. Thus, a total of 45 tanks.

Let’s look at some numbers.

A US Tank Battalion consists of 4 Tank Companies, each with 14 tanks. So, a Tank Battalion in the US Army has 56 tanks. Usually, 2-4 Tank Battalions are with a Tank heavy Brigade of about 4,000 Soldiers and between 102-224 tanks. Usually today fighting units are assigned to Brigade sized organizations.

Compared to the US forces, the 45 tanks being provided to the Ukraine do not seem like a significant number. But how many tanks do the Russians have facing the Ukraine?

Now that is a difficult question to answer based upon the conflicting information that seems to be available.

Prior to the invasion of Ukraine, according to the Military Balance 2021 database, Russia had 2,840 tanks with their ground forces. However, according to Oryx, an online investigative project which documents equipment losses, Russia has lost at least 994 tanks in their Ukraine battle; almost a third of their total number. Another estimate by the Conflict Intelligence Team, an independent Russian on-line armed conflicts monitor, states that Russia has lost 1,300 tanks: almost 40% of their total number.

Ukraine did not have any significant number of their own modern tanks when the battle started. So how were so many Russian tanks destroyed?

The West’s significant investment in Ukraine’s anti-armor capabilities has resulted in the spectacular failure of Russia’s plans for a swift toppling of Ukraine and the destruction of so many of their tanks on the battle field.

But against a possible Spring Offensive by a heavy tank force of the Russians, the maneuverability and effective tank-on-tank advantage that the West’s modern tanks have over the current Russian tanks, becomes even more important. Thus, the request of Ukraine for US and German supplied modern main battle tanks.

Sometimes numbers are not all they seem to be and those who make decisions strictly upon one source often find themselves being the victim of poor decision making.

A lesson for all of us.

Submitted Letter to the Editor/Guest Column contributed by Jerry Hogan, a former Rockwall County Judge. He can be reached at jerryhogan@sbcglobal.net or 214-394-4033.