Narrow bridges

Kherson, Nova Kakhovka and the bridges

What has puzzled me for some time is the inability of the Ukrainian forces to dislodge the Russians from the west bank of the Dnieper. This area of ​​several thousand square kilometers is occupied by 6 to 10 BTG, so perhaps 10,000 soldiers. It’s not an overwhelming force considering there are two big crosses that need to be defended as well as the long contact line. It seems to me that the current effort to push from the perimeter is just going to blow up the bridges as the Russians fall back on them towards the east bank. Another strategy that seems to be taking place is to destroy/disrupt the supply chain and command structure and force the Russians to withdraw. It has the appeal of less bloodshed and destruction, but it’s likely that the Russians will tear down the bridges as they retreat and live to fight another day.

Taking a page from history, much of today’s fighting is taking place in the same area as in 1942/3. The Germans were very adept at forming heavily armed mobile battle groups and crossing the front line in narrow breakthroughs to secure bridges deep behind the lines preceding an offensive. Fighting was avoided as much as possible, relying on speed and surprise on initial penetration. They would set up a hedgehog on the target and hold on until the main forces arrived. Sometimes even leading a heavily armed supply column to the hedgehog.

If the Ukrainians want the chance to keep the bridges intact, this would seem to be the only option. Do it in Kherson and Nova Kakhovka at the same time. The successful capture of the river crossings would fuel panic in the frontline forces. It is possible that the front lines will crumble as the Russians fall back trying to cross the river. The Ukrainians advance in confusion and collapse the pocket of troops blocked on the west bank. The Dnieper is quite wide upstream of Nova Kakhovka and perhaps these river patrol boats would play a role here. It’s a risky, high-payoff operation…the question is, do they have the highly mobile armored forces to carry it out?