Here is the challenge currently facing the Ukrainian armed forces:

The area in red is under Russian control and it is what Ukraine needs to take back.

Lightweight anti-tank weapons like the Javelin and NLAW or MANPADS anti-air equipment are very useful pieces of equipment for the following reasons:-

A) Low training requirement
B) Easy to deploy

But, as effective as they are, they do have limitations.

The NLAW has an effective firing range of 800 meters. The Javelin has a foot-mounted range of 4,000 m. And Starstreak (one of the best MANPADS AA equipment) has an effective range of 7,000 meters.

Russian artillery has a range of 90,000 meters and aircraft can operate at an altitude of 18,000 meters.

In the first stages of the conflict, Russia followed its doctrine of rapid morale-destroying advances – breaking through enemy lines and rapidly capturing urban areas.

This largely failed because the Ukrainian Army and militia set up in built-up areas with the NLAWs.  At the same time, the principal Ukrainian heavy forces waited and hit the Russians on the flanks and in the rear. This led to their vulnerable supply lines getting hit hard and them taking significant damage in urban areas. They followed the standard NATO doctrine for stopping a Russian advance and it worked

The gains that Russia achieved in the East allowed them to consolidate in some areas, fix broken supply lines and build up. for an offensive around Izyum.

This puts Ukrainian armed forces in a vulnerable situation. Especially (below) where they could be cut off and encircled.  The (surviving) Russian generals can read a map the same as anyone.

If the Russians could pull it off, it would mean 20–30,000 Ukrainian Professional troops encircled and would be a disaster.


Israel Hands – the fictional and real pirate

Many people know him more as a fictional character in series like Our Flag Means Death, Black Sails, or Treasure Island. But Israel or Basilica Hands was a real historical pirate. However, not much is known about him, especially not the early years of his life.


Israel Hands is portrayed by David Wilmot in Black Sails 

He appears in 1718 as captain of the sloop Adventure, whose command was transferred to him by Blackbeard after their old captain had refused to join Blackbeard. Later, in June 1718, Teach ran aground with his flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, at Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina. He asked Hands with the Adventure for help in trying to heel the Queen Anne’s Revenge off the bay. But the Adventure also ran aground and was abandoned. When Blackbeard was captured and killed on 22 November, Hands was not present. This was due to the fact that Edward Teach, (Blackbeard’s real name), had shot him in the knee and was recovering in Bath, North Carolina.

   “During a late-night drinking party in his cabin with a pilot, Hands and a third man, Blackbeard, without provocation, surreptitiously drew two small pistols and placed them under the table. The third man noticed this and went on deck, leaving Blackbeard, the pilot, and Hands alone in the cabin. Once the two pistols were ready to fire, Blackbeard blew out the candle on the table and fired at the two remaining drinking companions. Hands was hit in the knee and lamed for life. The second pistol, however, failed. When Blackbeard was then asked why he had done this, he replied that if he didn’t kill one of them now and then, they would forget who he was.” Captain Charles Jonson in: A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most notorious Pyrates

Because of this injury, he was unable to escape when the pirates of Bath were captured. After his capture, he and fifteen other pirates were taken to Williamsburg, Virginia, where they were tried. In exchange for a pardon, Hands testified against corrupt North Carolina officials with whom Teach had consorted. What happened to him is not really known, because according to Charles Johnson, he later died a crippled beggar in London.

But in 1721, an Israel Hynde, 29 years old with a lame leg, appears alongside Black Bart Roberts. However, when he died during a battle with the Royal Navy, his entire crew was captured. Hynde was taken to Cape Coast Castle, Ghana and sentenced to death by hanging for piracy on 13 April 1722. Whether it is the same man who merely changed his name cannot be said with certainty, but a certain resemblance exists and is therefore probable.


From 1984


About an hour and a half from home:

200+ million-year-old sparkling beauties in. the Petrified Forest National Park, AZ


  1. Taking so much as a pebble out of any national park is verboten, but I’ve heard there are good places for fossilized (agatized) wood outside the park. I’d think that some local rock hounds would know where to go looking.

    • Yes, they may indeed. The boundaries of the park are not necessarily the boundaries of the petrified forest.

  2. As a much younger Kansas farm boy, I loaded up a volcanic rock in the back of my International Travelall out of a 10,000 acre patch of them outside of Bend Oregon. When they locals told me that was verboten I was incredulous. They replied; “what if everybody took one?” I replied; “I guess you would have 9,999 acres of them!” I threw a blanket over it and brought it home. Just a rebel I guess.

  3. Is the range on Russian artillery — 90,000 meters — a typo? Do they have guns that can reach out 55 miles?

    • Typo. I’ll fix it when I get to a computer – edits are a hassle from the phone.

    • With extended range rounds some of the Russian stuff is supposed to reach that far.

      And we’ve seen, lately, how reality compares with the sales-brochure. Which is not at all. Though if there ever was a religion in the Soviet army, Artillery was its god.

      The thing is, whenever Russians have set up an artillery park (with towed or with mobile artillery pieces) the Ukrainians have done an excellent job of counter-battery fire or drone strikes. The Russians have forgotten or not even cared to listen to what NATO and US force doctrine for mobile artillery is, which is ‘Shoot-n-Scoot.’ Can’t be hit if you ain’t there, dontchaknow?

      • 9A52-4 “Tornado” MLRS: up to 90km range · BM-30 “Smerch” MLRS: 70 to 90km range · 2S7 “Pion” 203mm heavy artillery: 37.5 km range depending on the round. When I wrote the numbers above, in my memory, I was citing the rocket artillery number but putting it out as the tube artillery number. My fault.

        When the Ukrainians are re-armed with modern NATO tube artillery, the Russians will be less than happy with the results. Russians are trained to fire in the general direction of the target – and with enough tubes in the arty park, some are likely to hit the target.

        • Yup. Russian artillery tactics aren’t much farther than what Peter the Great taught. Just better equipment.

          When the Ukrainians get NATO tracked or wheeled tube artillery, the Russians will be very unhappy with the results. Very very unhappy, as long as they remember to shoot and scoot. Stay still for a counter-battery stonk by the Russkies and that would purely suck.

  4. Are the competent generals the ones getting killed by visiting the front lines?

  5. The Armchair General is a well-known type. I am surprised (though I oughtn’t be) by how many Armchair Statesmen there are. These persons also seem to be have an almost mystical insight into the inner workings of Putin’s psyche. Amazing. Over the last week individuals ranging from average-intelligence/not-so-accomplished to very bright/highly accomplished have told me what’s going inside Putin’s head, offered up their plans for Eastern European geopolitics for the next 5 decades, and that we are not doing enough for Ukraine (our second-greatest ally, apparently).

    One fellow (who to his credit did not shoot his mouth off about Vlad’s hopes and dreams, nor played statesman) was shocked and angered when I suggested that the Ukrainian unpleasantness is a burgeoning proxy war with Russia and that Ukraine was and is a nidus for multiple grifts by our “elite”. He was the best. Others, who five months ago could not have found Ukraine on a globe, are apparently unaware of what the Crimea is, have never heard of Ihor Kolomoisky, or color revolutions, who couldn’t say why the Uke flag is blue over yellow, don’t know what doppelsigrune is and who used it, and know nothing of the history of Dear President Zelenskyy (post turtle) nonetheless have deep insights into that polity, its leadership, and what we should be doing for them.

    Also, the normalcy bias is astonishing. People apparently cannot conceive of a time in which they won’t be able to get their free-range seitan (if you don’t know what that is, you don’t want to know) at the local Whole Foods. Forget extrapolating out the implications of the fertilizer shortages, nearly unaffordable transport, and even all those damned chickens being slaughtered. While I decline to despair about the long-term future, I have never been so black-pilled about the idea of democracy.

    • There’s a reason (or two) why those originally setting up the US government despised democracy, which is why they tried for a federate republic that had separation of powers.
      Naturally, the power-mongers started trying to ‘fix’ that problem from the get-go.
      They don’t like it when they can’t play King-Of-The-Hill.

    • How many of those with opinions can even explain anything about the history f that part of the world? I know I can’t.

      It is, IMO, a mess we need to stay out of.

      • I believe that I have a grasp on the Russian mindset, and much of that came from dealing closely with Great Russians and listening more than talking. Long walks with Russians, as they speak of this and that provides an insight that can’t be applied specifically, but offers a window into how they reason. The same can be said for other groups as well. It’s not about agreeing with anyone, but it is about trying to understand them. History has to be added to that, competing power structures (Russian Orthodox vs Ukrainian Orthodox) and so forth.

        The ruling American idocracy makes me feel ashamed.

  6. It’s interesting that I could apply that Orwell piece from 1984 to most of the hateful politicians.

    That wood is beautiful. Bet that fetches a few quid. Is your forest being raided by Etsy people and Ebayers?

    • It’s more difficult than that to find good pieces and if you go the wrong place, they shoot you and roll your body into an arroyo where Javalina, coyotes and buzzards pick your bones clean. If your carcass is found, maybe it can be identified with dental records, and maybe not. It’s still very wild country, Jules.

  7. Yeah, stopping the Russians was one (fairly impressive) thing. Being able to successfully go on the general offensive is quite another, and needs different equipment and skill sets.

    I’m expecting a long, long stalemate with occasional bloody interludes. No idea how it will play out long-term.

    Plus, I’m always ready to be surprised, either way.


    • This is the thing. The US has excellent overhead imagery in real-time of the battlespace. I don’t know what the Russians have but it won’t be anywhere near as good. Trust me on this. This means that Ukraine can count the tanks, count the fuel trucks, count – everything, in real-time. They know when the tank engines are warm or cold. They have SIGINT on the communications spectrum and while some of that can be faked by the Russians, a lot of it can’t be.

      Ukraine going on the offensive will know specifically what they’re up against. In the war that’s game-set-match because they can counter whatever the Russians have in place. They’re able to strike where the Russians are weak and to exploit that.

      USAF also has AWACS control of the entire battlespace. F-18Gs can jam the Russian coms, missiles and aircraft making it all very difficult for them.

      • LL, targeting, jamming and such are usually considered as acts of war. The same would be true of Russia if they cut off the natural gas lines into Europe. One alternate news source reported that the ground war is being run by Americans and not the Ukrainians. However, as is most of the reporting nothing can be easily verified.

        It’s too bad that the disinformation is so well mixed in with the actual information as it gives a greatly biased view of this conflict. This reminds me of LTC Vindman passing his classified information to Ukraine in real time.

        • We’re at war with Russia. There’s not much mystery there. We went well beyond “war by other means” a long time ago. When Brandon called for Putin’s assassination, it was a defacto declaration of war.

          Since the Peace of Westphalia (1648), which ended the Thirty Years’ War, there has been a concerted effort in international law to develop binding laws of war and military codes of conduct. Since the 1860s these have increasingly taken the form of written rules governing the conduct of war, including rules of engagement for national military forces, the Geneva Conventions (1864–1949) and their protocols (1977), and various treaties, agreements, and declarations limiting the means allowable in war. I’m not suggesting that all of those factors are in play, but embargoing cargo or blockading ports is being done in addition to providing targeting information (deniable) to Ukraine.

    • It’s just close to me. It’s like you going out on a local lake in your fancy boat.

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