NATO Leopard for the Ukraine War Escalation. “Only very Experts can Manage its Power”. Analysis by former Italian Tank Commander
This article continues the formal collaboration of his friend Piero Angelo De Ruvo as author of Gospa News specialized in military and geopolitical issues. After taking leave of his well-deserved retirement as First Lieutenant of the Italian Army, he can no longer retain the position of military union representative as he had previously done with admirable battles against mandatory vaccination for workers in the Armed Forces.
The links to previous Gospa News articles have been added subsequently by the editorial staff for relevance to the topics covered
by Piero Angelo De Ruvo
Eventually Germany had to give in to the enormous pressure received from the allied countries. Another step towards NATO’s ever more direct involvement in the war has been taken. Ukraine will receive the requested tanks from Europe and the United States, but has already made further requests regarding aircraft and long-range missiles.
As requested by its president Volodymyr Zelensky, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Poland, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands and Spain will send tanks to keep a conflict going and increasingly blur the horizon of PEACE.
In the various military doctrines, tanks are considered weapons of an offensive nature, so it goes without saying that their use, in this particular historical moment, could trigger a further escalation in the now evident conflict between NATO and Russia.
MY EXPERIENCE AS A TANK COMMANDER ON THE LEOPARD
“The tank crew fights for others, wins for others. Animated by a very high spirit of camaraderie, he must know how to make every sacrifice to reduce the losses of the troops with whom he works. (…) He knows that the history of tank crews is recent, but already full of glories, stupendous for sacrifices made and valor demonstrated.”
From “L-35 Tank Driver’s Manual” – 1940
Since October 1983, first as a conscript, and then as a non-commissioned officer, my youth and tanker training was linked to the Leopard, which took place in the Scuola Truppe Corrazzate in Lecce, attending the two-month basic course for armored troops , obtaining the specialty of Gunner “Leopard”.
Subsequently I was assigned to the 11th Tank Battalion (BGT. CR) “M.O. Calzecchi ” in Ozzano dell’Emilia (BO), carrying out hundreds of hours of training on the tank. Subsequently, to complete my NCO training, I attended a further 6-month course at the Armored Troops School of Caserta, starting the Specialization process for Tank Chief of the “LEOPARD – M 47 – M 60” tanks, achieving the related specializations. Finally I am assigned to the 1st BGT. CR “M.O. Cracco” in Bellinzago Novarese (NO) carrying out the role of “Leopard” Tank Leader.
I have spent thousands of hours aboard the Leopard, in fire and in white exercises (Cellina Meduna, Monte Romano, Teulada, Torre Veneri, as well as the various minor training areas), in order to amalgamate the crew members and the understanding between tank and tank within the platoon.
For the crew, the tank becomes a second home and in moments of pause, it is necessary to take care of the vehicle, from top-ups to small repairs, so that it arrives in combat in full efficiency and opens the way for the troops that follow it.
You don’t become a tank driver in a day or in a month, by reading the instruction booklet or the use and maintenance of the tank. You cannot be a tank driver, but you must be a tank driver, inside.
THE HARD USE OF LEOPARD IN UKRAINE
If we analyze the Leopard supply from a military-technical point of view, we note that Ukraine owns and employs Soviet tanks, (mostly T55/ T64/ and some T72), lighter than NATO ones and with three man crew, and a 125 mm smooth-bore main armament. Unlike the Leopard A2 which has a crew of 4 men and a main armament caliber of 120 always with smooth bore, in addition to totally different and electronically much more sophisticated aiming systems.
If we then consider the American Abrams M1, which, in addition to also having a crew of 4 men, has a main armament of 105 mm rifled (M1), and 120 mm smoothbore (M1 A1 /M1 A2), we note that there are more than four types of tanks in the field.
Already from these few simple data you can guess the difficulty by the Ukrainian army of the difficult management of all these different armored forces.
An army already in serious difficulty with the logistic infrastructures destroyed and with the serious losses suffered. In fact, if other types of tanks are added to their means, about to be sent, 30 M1 Abrams units from the US Pentagon, and about 80 Leopard 2A6s, from the European allies, the logistic support, including the specialists who they have to repair the damaged vehicles, in addition to spare parts, and ammunition of different calibers, it becomes almost unmanageable on the battlefield, being in fact in a serious logistical difficulty.
But the real problem, which should not be underestimated, is the technical/operational training of the crews in knowing how to make the best use of these vehicles. It is not enough to drive them, turn the turret and press the fire button, there are about 350 soldiers who must be trained to be able to make the best use of these vehicles and the related equipment also made up of technologically advanced instruments.
For training of this magnitude, and to amalgamate a crew in the use of the tank in harmony with other tanks and departments that operate in close contact, it takes no less than 6 months.
So how will the Ukrainian army be trained to use the sophisticated technological systems that are aboard a tank, given that the theoretical and practical training takes months?
FURTHER NATO PROVOCATION FOR AN ESCALATION OF THE WAR
The reality on the ground is very different from the political one: those who think that these means are, in the short term, a solution to the conflict are making a huge mistake.
By increasing the presence of tracked vehicles on the ground, it will be of little use if you do not have well-trained personnel. For almost a year, European countries and the United States have been sending technologically advanced and increasingly expensive weapons, without obtaining any substantial change.
One would think that all this is just a maneuver that serves a further political provocation by NATO and Kiev.
In all of this, no strategy can be glimpsed, whether to undertake a path of peace, or a military path that points to a precise objective, aid packages are packaged, vehicles, equipment and economic resources are placed on the ground without the slightest objective and a well-defined strategy, mountains of money taken away from public and social works.
Given the path that the European Union has taken, it would not surprise me if in a few months, Zelensky will ask for some special NATO units to be sent, even if the various governments have categorically denied this possibility, all these actions done little by little do not they are nothing more than a psychological preparation for public opinion for a future involvement of our troops on the front lines.
Ursula von der Leyen has repeatedly stated that Ukraine must not lose, no matter what.
I hope that the common sense of whoever has the responsibility of directing this situation will be enlightened by the Lord, and every opening will be sought to start peace negotiations. In a conflict there are no losers or winners, but only social devastation that is unloaded on the population in support of military spending.
Piero Angelo DeRuvo
First Lieutenant of the Italian Army on leave
Former national secretary of the Military Workers Federation (FML) of the Italian Army