In a recent episode of the OSINT Bunker podcast, retired Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Crawford, a 20-year veteran of the Royal Tank Regiment, shared his insights on the role of armoured warfare in modern conflicts.
Drawing from his extensive military experience, Crawford offered a nuanced perspective on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, comparing it to previous wars and highlighting the importance of both numbers and competency in warfare.
Crawford began by comparing the coalition invasion of Iraq and Kuwait in 1991 to the current conflict in Ukraine. He noted that the key difference between the two was the Allies’ overwhelming air superiority during the first Gulf War, which allowed them to range at will across the Kuwait theatre of operations. In contrast, no one has air superiority in Ukraine, leading to a more even contest.
Crawford also discussed the Russian battalion tactical group strategy and its effectiveness in Ukraine. He questioned whether these groups are large enough to have a significant impact on the battlefield, suggesting that the Western practice of having small numbers of highly competent, technically advanced fighting vehicles might be putting too many eggs in one basket. He argued for the value of larger numbers of less capable vehicles, as losses are inevitable in warfare.
He stated, “I’ve said this 100 times and stuff that I’ve been writing in the newspapers, mass matters, if there’s one lesson that comes out of Ukraine, is that numbers matter. And I’m now beginning to think that this western practice, and I’m thinking of the UK in particular, but it may apply elsewhere, of having small numbers of highly competent, technically advanced fighting vehicles, for example, like tanks, but which cost a fortune, whether we’re in danger of putting our limited eggs into one basket, and we might be better off going for large numbers or larger numbers of less capable vehicles, because losses are inevitable”
Adding to the discussion, Austin, another speaker on the podcast, mentioned the interesting case of the Polish military, which has been given the proper resources to do what they need to do.
Crawford responded, “I’m very impressed by the fact that they have, I think, come to an arrangement with South Korea to purchase some of the most modern South Korean tanks, I can’t remember the nomenclature of them, but also to construct a factory in Poland that will, that will, that will produce the bulk of them. Plus, they’ve got the US Aegis system, and the missile system already in Poland. And they’ve got the Patriot system”.
If you want to hear more from Crawford, we recommend heading to his own podcast here.
What is the OSINT Bunker?
The OSINT Bunker is a defence and security-based podcast aimed at expanding people’s knowledge of the geopolitical landscape using open-source intelligence. It fills a niche that most people (most people reading this anyway) have for up-to-date, accurate and balanced information on ongoing conflicts.
What is OSINT? For those who don’t know, OSINT stands for open-source intelligence, which refers to any information gathered from public sources about an organisation, event, individual etc. In practice, that tends to mean information found on the internet, but technically any public information falls into the category of OSINT, whether it’s books or reports in a public library, articles in a newspaper or statements in a press release.
Episodes typically cover the UK and international defence matters.