Ukraine’s 82nd Air Assault Brigade
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Ukraine’s powerhouse 82nd Air Assault Brigade has finally joined the counteroffensive.
The powerful 2,000-person unit has been held in reserve until now.
A defense analyst told Insider Ukraine’s generals have “decided to put all their chips on the table.”
A key chess piece in Ukraine’s military strategy has been deployed. Ukraine’s 82nd Air Assault Brigade has officially joined the counteroffensive against the Russian invasion forces, the Kyiv Post reports.
Michael Clarke, a defense and security analyst, told Insider that Ukraine’s generals have “decided to put all their chips on the table,” bringing everything they intend to use forward.
Leaked documents from earlier this year revealed the 82nd Brigade was a formidable unit with about 150 NATO-supplied armored infantry carriers. Its impressive arsenal includes 90 US Stryker vehicles, 40 German-produced Marders, 24 US-made M113 infantry carriers, and 14 British Challenger tanks, Politico reported.
In April, NATO confirmed they had trained and equipped more than nine new Ukrainian armored brigades.
The Challenger tanks have been reinforced with “cope cages” – self-installed turret-mounted cages to safeguard the vehicles from drone strikes. Even without this modification, the 71-ton, four-crew Challenger 2 is said to be the best-protected tank used in this war, according to Forbes.
Forbes called the 82nd Brigade “almost comically powerful” as it represents half of its best NATO-delivered infantry armored vehicles.
“They’re committing all their spearhead forces”
A British army Challenger 2 tank during an exercise in October 2020.
British army/Capt. Shane Charles
Ukraine’s long-anticipated counteroffensive started on June 4 with a string of coordinated attacks across southern and eastern Ukraine, Forbes reported.
Clarke, a former Director-General of the Royal United Services Institute in London, said the counteroffensive is progressing more slowly than anticipated because of the “sheer depths of the Russian minefields.”
The 82nd Brigade, and its sister air-assault unit, the 46th Brigade, had previously been held in reserve. Although these were some of the last units in held back, Clarke clarifies that this doesn’t mean Ukraine is using up all its reserves.
“It does mean that they’re committing all their spearhead forces. Behind the spearhead forces, they’ve got reserves of the more regular forces, and they’ve got mobile brigades and mechanized infantry brigades that have been fighting elsewhere.
So it’s not that they’re going to run out of troops or equipment, but they’re using a higher proportion of their spearhead units in order to make the initial breakthroughs.”
Jimmy Rushton, an independent security analyst based in Kyiv, said that even if we end up in a form of stalemate, that doesn’t mean that the war is over or lost.
“Wars, especially big state-on-state wars like this, take time. They’re difficult, bloody, brutal things. And I think we have we in the West have entirely forgotten what it is what it’s like to fight a war like this,” he told Insider.
A US Army Stryker armored vehicle fires a Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided missile at Fort Polk in Louisiana in June 2009.
US Army/Spc. Victor Ayala
Clarke predicts the counteroffensive is tenable for another two months, while Rushton speculates that the longevity of the offensive will depend heavily on the tempo of fighting and the weather in the coming months.
The 82nd Brigade is reportedly active in the village of Robotyne, in the southern Zaporizhzhia Region of Ukraine. If the Marines’ success in Urozhaine is any indication, the increased military presence around Robotyne could bring rapid gains for Ukraine.
The Institute for the Study of War, in its daily assessment this week, wrote: “Ukrainian forces advanced into Robotyne, and further Russian and Ukrainian reporting published on Aug. 15 suggests that Ukrainian forces have committed additional counteroffensive brigades to the western Zaporizhzhia Oblast area.”