Deadly HIMARS strikes show how Ukrainian forces are turning cell phones into ‘force multipliers’

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Deadly HIMARS strikes show how Ukrainian forces are turning cell phones into ‘force multipliers’

Stavros Atlamazoglou 

Jan 15, 2023, 2:33 PM

Destroyed Russian barracks in Makiivka Donetsk Ukraine
A destroyed building purportedly used to house Russian soldiers in Makiivka on January 10. 
  • Ukraine has launched deadly long-range strikes against Russian troops in eastern Ukraine.
  • Some of those strikes and other attacks have reportedly been enabled by Russian cell phone use.
  • Those cases illustrate the growing use of cell phones as sensors on the battlefield.

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On December 31, the Ukrainian military launched a precision strike against a makeshift Russian barracks in the town of Makiivka in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.

According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, the Ukrainians were able to pinpoint the makeshift barracks using cellular data. Russian reservists based there had turned on their cell phones, allowing Ukrainian military intelligence to pick up their location and pass the targeting data up the chain of command, according to the ministry.

Soon thereafter, highly effective fire from US-provided M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems rained down on the target, setting off explosions that Russia says were made more intense by the detonation of ammunition that had also been stored in the barracks building.

Estimates of Russian casualties in the attack range from 89 killed, as reported by Russia, to Ukraine’s claim of some 400 killed and 300 more wounded.

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Russian lawmakers, military bloggers, and the troops’ families have disputed the Kremlin’s claim that the reservists’ poor discipline got them killed, but that account of the strike and of others like it illustrate a growing battlefield trend: the use of cell phones as sensors to find, track, and attack enemy forces.

Force multipliers

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