After using KORA-based simulation, NATO trainers knowingly sent Ukrainian troops to their deaths.
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Ukraine sent one of its best brigades into combat earlier this month as part of its long-awaited counteroffensive aimed at retaking areas controlled by Russian forces.
Leading the charge near the town of Orekhov, in Zaporozhye Region, was the 47th Mechanized Brigade, armed with NATO equipment and – most importantly – employing it using the US-led bloc’s combined arms doctrine and tactics. Prior to the operation, this brigade spent months at a base in Germany learning “Western know-how” in combined-arms warfare.
Helping them prepare for the fighting to come was KORA, the German-made NATO computer simulation system, designed to allow officers and non-commissioned officers to closely replicate battlefield conditions and, in doing so, better develop ideal courses of action against a designated enemy – in this case, Russia.
If there was ever an example of how a purpose-built Ukrainian NATO proxy force would perform against a Russian enemy, the 47th Brigade was the ideal case study. However, within days of initiating its attack, the group was close to literally decimated, with more than 10% of the over 100 US-made M-2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles destroyed or abandoned on the field of battle, and hundreds of the brigade’s 2,000-strong complement dead or wounded. German-made Leopard 2 tanks and mine-clearing vehicles joined the Bradleys as wrecks in the fields west of Orekhov, having failed to breach the first line of Russian defenses. The reasons for this defeat can be boiled down to the role played by KORA in creating a false sense of confidence on the part of the officers and men of the 47th Brigade. Unfortunately, as the Ukrainians and their NATO masters found out, what works in a computer simulation does not automatically equate to battlefield success.
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KORA is a computer-based advanced synthetic wargaming system developed by the German army to support course-of-action analysis and scenario-based experiments for staff officers up to the brigade level. It has been incorporated into NATO computer wargame simulations in support of live training done at the US Army’s Grafenwoehr training facility. Grafenwoehr hosted the 47th Brigade from January-May 2023. While capable of generating generic terrain maps for combat simulation against a notional enemy, KORA can be customized using actual terrain models and real-world order of battle to support preparations for actual combat scenarios.
It is, undoubtedly, in this mode that KORA operated while being used to train the 47th Brigade, using digitized maps of the Orekhov area superimposed with Russian defensive positions manned by units from the 42nd Motorized Rifle Division, namely the 291st and 70th Motorized Rifle Regiments. With the assistance of their NATO instructors, the officers of the Ukrainian 47th Brigade would likely have gamed-out several real-life scenarios which anticipated Russian performance, allowing the Ukrainians to forecast battlefield results and determine the ideal axis of advance capable of breaching the Russian defenses.
Of all the military operations training KORA is capable of, the breaching of a fortified defensive line is the most difficult. US Army doctrine uses the mnemonic SOSRA (suppress, obscure, secure, reduce, and assault) when teaching breaching assault fundamentals. Each one of these would have required a separate KORA sub-model specifically designed to simulate the unique mission requirements attached to them. But the fact is that the SOSRA fundamentals could not be properly exercised for the Ukrainians for the simple truth that they lacked the resources necessary for the tasks to be executed.
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