Russian Military “Utterly Failing” in Historic Defeat by Ukraine

Russia is contributing new material to a war history chapter on how to lose, according to some experts.

“It’s stunning,” said military historian Frederick Kagan of the Institute for the Study of War, who says he knows of no parallel to a major military power like Russia invading a country at the time of its choosing and failing so utterly.

Incompetence seems to be the operative word.

The Russians were ill-prepared for Ukrainian resistance, proved incapable of adjusting to setbacks, failed to effectively combine air and land operations, misjudged Ukraine’s ability to defend its skies, and bungled basic military functions like planning and executing the movement of supplies.

“That’s a really bad combination if you want to conquer a country,” said Peter Mansoor, a retired Army colonel and professor of military history at Ohio State University.

[…] Mansoor says the Russians underestimated the number of troops they would need and showed “an astonishing inability” to perform basic military functions. They vastly misjudged what it would take to win the battle for Kyiv, he says.

“This was going to be hard even if the Russian army had proven itself to be competent,” he said. “It’s proven itself to be wholly incapable of conducting modern armored warfare.”

Being “incapable of adjusting to setbacks” is a key concept in predicting failure of threats, which I’ve been repeatedly emphasizing on this blog.

Russia’s drone-like top-down model is putting on display some dangerous assumptions within a “driverless” industry for what they are: serious vulnerability to trivial counter-attack.

The article briefly mentions an aborted US helicopter assault on Baghdad from March 2003 as foreshadowing. Air Force Magazine later that same year even called it “one of the most controversial” Cold War-era tactics, which Russia seems to have ignorantly repeated in 2022.

…critics of the multimillion dollar chopper view the Najaf retreat as the Apache’s “Little Big Horn” — proof that it is too vulnerable to survive modern combat. They argue that the Apache is a relic of Cold War planning that failed at its primary mission — deep attack.

Perhaps most notable, counter-measures back then were documented as crowd-sourced light-arms resistance based on simple forward observations — similarly highly effective in Ukraine two decades later.

… Wallace, the V Corps commander, told reporters that an Iraqi two-star general in Najaf had used a “cellular telephone to speed-dial a number of Iraqi air defenders” and tell them to prepare for a helicopter raid. […] Apache pilots know they never could have flown over Iraqi cities if fixed-wing fighters and other weapons hadn’t neutralized Iraqi air defenses and friendly ground troops hadn’t secured the territory beneath them… [because of this forced shift in tactics] the March 24 retreat at Najaf might turn out to have been one of the most productive defeats in modern warfare.

A productive defeat would be for someone who learns and adapts. Instead it serves as a giant warning ignored by Putin’s puppets who have proven themselves afraid of the truth — in a governance model that forces them to be unable or unwilling to think.

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