The NYT & WSJ’s Critical Articles About Kiev’s Counteroffensive Explain Why It Failed

Yves here. Even though Alexander Mercouris discussed these two pieces major stories separately, there’s merit in looking at them together, particularly since Korybko’s recap covers some  tidbits that got left on the Mercouris cutting room floor. These articles also confirm things he and others have been describing for some time: increased finger-pointing and acrimony between Kiev and Washington has been coming out more and more into the open as the much ballyhooed counteroffensive has come a cropper. It’s underperformed even the expectations of Russia-friendly experts like Mark Sleboda, how believed the operation would at least get to and possibly puncture the first Russian fortified lines.

Mercouris has emphasized the second point in Kobybko’s recap below, the US/NATO indifference to the horrific human costs Ukraine is incurring, and then demanding Ukraine sacrifice even more men for what is obviously a lost cause.

By Andrew Korybko, a Moscow-based American political analyst who specializes in the global systemic transition to multipolarity in the New Cold War. He has a PhD from MGIMO, which is under the umbrella of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Originally published at his website

With the vicious blame game between the US and Ukraine now reaching the level of their military officials telling the press that there are fundamental strategic differences between them, the trust and unity of purpose that were forged over the past 18 months seem to be a thing of the past.

The New York Times (NYT) and Wall Street Journal (WSJ) each published very critical articles about Kiev’s counteroffensive just several days apart. Respectively titled “Ukraine’s Forces and Firepower Are Misallocated, U.S. Officials Say” and “U.S., Ukraine Clash Over Counteroffensive Strategy”, they take the vicious blame gamethat’s recently exploded between the two to the next level. The highlights from each will now be shared prior to analyzing the new narrative about this conflict. Here are the NYT’s takeaways:


* Kiev’s dual focus on the eastern and southern fronts led to it failing along both

– “Ukrainian commanders have divided troops and firepower roughly equally between the east and the south, the U.S. officials said. As a result, more Ukrainian forces are near Bakhmut and other cities in the east than are near Melitopol and Berdiansk in the south, both far more strategically significant fronts, officials say.”

* The US prefers for Ukraine to advance towards the sea even at the cost of massive losses

– “American planners have advised Ukraine to concentrate on the front driving toward Melitopol, Kyiv’s top priority, and on punching through Russian minefields and other defenses, even if the Ukrainians lose more soldiers and equipment in the process.”

* Washington is bracing for the counteroffensive’s full failure if Kiev doesn’t obey its demands

– “Only with a change of tactics and a dramatic move can the tempo of the counteroffensive change, said one U.S. official, who like the other half a dozen Western officials interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.”

* 18 months of combat have decimated the ranks of Kiev’s most experienced forces

– “American officials say there are indications that Ukraine has started to shift some of its more seasoned combat forces from the east to the south. But even the most experienced units have been reconstituted a number of times after taking heavy casualties.”

* The counteroffensive’s full failure might already be a fait accompli

– “Some analysts say the progress may be too little too late. The fighting is taking place on mostly flat, unforgiving terrain, which favors the defenders. The Russians are battling from concealed positions that Ukrainian soldiers often see only when they are feet away. Hours after Ukrainians clear a field of mines, the Russians sometimes fire another rocket that disperses more of them at the same location.”

* Kiev clings to Soviet war doctrine in order to control rivalries within its armed forces

– “Ukraine and Russia fight under old Soviet Communist doctrine, which seeks to minimize rivalries among factions of the army by providing equal amounts of manpower and equipment across commands. Both armies have failed to prioritize their most important objectives, officials say.”

* Zelensky’s political obsession with reconquering Artyomovsk crippled the counteroffensive

– “Ukraine’s continued focus on Bakhmut, the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the war, has perplexed U.S. intelligence and military officials. Ukraine has invested huge amounts of resources in defending the surrounding Donbas region, and Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, does not want to appear as though he is giving up on trying to retake lost territory. But U.S. officials say politics must, at least temporarily, take a back seat to sound military strategy.”

* This disastrous decision was due to him capitulating to pressure from competing military factions

– “Ukrainian leaders have defended their strategy and distribution of forces, saying they are fighting effectively in both the east and the south. The large number of troops is necessary to pressure Bakhmut and to defend against concerted Russian attacks in the country’s northeast, they say. Ukrainian commanders are competing for resources and have their own ideas of where they can succeed.”

* The counteroffensive could end sooner than expected due to poor weather

– “American officials said Ukraine has another month to six weeks before rainy conditions force a pause in the counteroffensive. Already in August, Ukraine has postponed at least one offensive drive because of rain.”

* Fatigue among its fighters might also prematurely end the counteroffensive

– “More important than the weather, some analysts say, is that Ukraine’s main assault forces may run out of steam by mid- to late September. About a month ago, Ukraine rotated in a second wave of troops to replace an initial force that failed to break through Russian defenses.”


And here are the highlights from the WSJ’s complementary article:

* The US and Ukraine fell out with one another shortly after the counteroffensive began

– “U.S. and Ukrainian officials have been engaged in an intense behind-the-scenes debate for weeks over the strategy and tactics for reviving Kyiv’s slow-moving counteroffensive. American military officials have been urging the Ukrainians to return to the combined arms training they received at allied bases in Europe by concentrating their forces to try to bust through Russia defenses and push to the Sea of Azov.” 

* Fundamental differences over strategy are at the core of their growing disagreements

– “’You don’t understand the nature of this conflict,’ Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, the commander of the Ukrainian armed forces, the Ukrainian commander, responded in one interaction with the Americans, a U.S. official recounted. ‘This is not counterinsurgency. This is Kursk,’ the commander added, referring to the major World War II battle between Germany and the Soviet Union.”

* The counteroffensive is likely Kiev’s last hurrah since the US can’t sustain its military aid

– “The American advice is based on the calculation that the surge of equipment the U.S. has funneled to Ukraine—more than $43 billion in weaponry has been committed over the years—is enough for this offensive and is unlikely to be repeated at anywhere near the same level in 2024. ‘We built up this mountain of steel for the counteroffensive. We can’t do that again,’ one former U.S. official said. ‘It doesn’t exist.’”

* Zelensky’s prioritization of political goals over military ones “seriously frustrates” the US

– “While there are differing views within the U.S. government, one official said that Washington has conveyed ‘serious frustration’ with Ukraine’s strategy, particularly President Volodymyr Zelensky’s focus on Bakhmut, which some Ukrainian officers see as useful to build morale and create a buffer zone in the east.”

* Kiev’s allegedly newfound aversion to casualties impedes progress towards the sea

– “Holding casualties to a minimum is needed to preserve their longer-term fighting potential, the Ukrainians say. But U.S. officials say the Ukrainians’ small-unit attacks on narrow fronts slow the offensive and give the Russians more opportunity to respond, including with mines that are dispensed through artillery strikes and units armed with rocket-propelled grenades.”

* Only 8,000 troops were supposed to smash through around 100 miles of Russian defenses

– “At the heart of the debate between Washington and Kyiv is the U.S.-provided combined arms training the Ukrainians have received in recent months that was intended to prepare them for their offensive in the south. The U.S. and its partners have trained more than 70,000 Ukrainian soldiers at more than 40 training areas. But the crux of the U.S. combined arms training in Germany was on 14 motorized-infantry, mechanized and national-guard battalions—some 8,000 troops—who were to push through Russia’s lines or secure terrain.”

* The lack of proper air power might have doomed the counteroffensive from the get-go

– “The training is intended to enable Ukrainian forces to break through their foe’s defenses and maneuver in the Russians’ rear area, but without the advantages the U.S. military has long enjoyed, especially air power. Ukraine has only a small air force, and the delivery of American-made F-16s isn’t expected until mid to late 2024. While U.S. officials say that simulations indicated that the Ukrainians could succeed anyway, some in the Pentagon acknowledge the challenge.”

* Irresponsible resource allocation and poor training made everything even worse

– “Some Ukrainian soldiers who have been fighting from the beginning of the war expressed frustration that the tanks and armored vehicles had been given to newly formed units that include soldiers with little or no combat experience… Others say the reality of fighting on first contact with the enemy shocked them.”


Reflecting on the insight shared by the NYT and WSJ per their unnamed US sources, three primary reasons explain everything that went wrong with the counteroffensive and inevitably resulted in its failure. First and foremost, the lack of air support can’t be overemphasized in this respect, but it’s attributable to Ukraine lacking these capabilities prior to the start of Russia’s special operation and the West wisely refusing to send its own pilots into the combat zone.

To go through with the counteroffensive in spite of this, however, proves that the US and Ukraine were driven by ulterior motives. Although the US’ weren’t touched upon in either of those articles, the argument can be made that its powerful military-industrial complex wanted to obtain invaluable battlefield data from the weapons that were already sent there. As for Ukraine’s, its authorities feared for their political futures if they failed to make a major effort to reconquer their lost lands.

The preceding observation leads to the next primary reason why the counteroffensive failed, which is that Zelensky then capitulated to pressure from competing military factions to equally divide this campaign’s focus along the eastern and southern fronts instead of concentrating on the latter. The existence of these aforesaid factions in its armed forces was hitherto smeared as a “conspiracy theory” until the NYT and WSJ confirmed it, and it explains a lot about everything that unfolded this summer.

It was precisely due to their existence and powerful influence that Zelensky clung to Soviet war doctrine in order to control them instead of taking the risk that some might mutiny if they didn’t get roughly equal access to the treasure trove of weapons sent by the West. He also couldn’t let highly armed factions sit around doing nothing, however, which partially accounts for why he ordered around half of his forces to attempt to reconquer Artyomovsk.

And finally, the last reason why the counteroffensive failed is that Russia won the “race of logistics”/“war of attrition” with NATO and was therefore able to adequately defend its southern positions in parallel with keeping up pressure on Kiev in the east, particularly the Kupyansk direction along which it’s recently advanced. In such a situation, Zelensky would have still been forced to retain a significant number of his forces in the east even if he didn’t have any competing military factions to worry about.

Accordingly, the counteroffensive’s focus would have likely remained divided in order to prevent Russia from going on its own offensive in the east that could have risked enveloping Kiev’s forces in the south. This assessment suggests that the present stalemate was inevitable even in the event that Ukraine wielded proper air power and its armed forces operated as one. Considering this, the counteroffensive never had a real chance at success, thus making the US and Ukraine’s differences over strategy moot.

Each had ulterior motives for going ahead with it anyhow, but responsible American policymakers could have forced Kiev to recommence peace talks against its will while their responsible Ukrainian counterparts could have done so unilaterally even if the US was against this. After all, President Putin made it clear that he was still interested in a political resolution to the conflict several weeks after the counteroffensive began, but he might have since changed his mind if he decides to exploit its fallout.

With the vicious blame game between the US and Ukraine now reaching the level of their military officials telling the press that there are fundamental strategic differences between them, the trust and unity of purpose that were forged over the past 18 months seem to be a thing of the past. These supposed allies are actively looking for a “face-saving” way out of this imbroglio that lays the blame for the counteroffensive’s failure squarely on the other’s lap, which is a totally new dynamic in this conflict.

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  1. Heraclitus

    When I first heard that the Istanbul talks fell apart, I couldn’t believe it, because it was so obviously in both parties’ interests to make peace. It seemed obvious that Russia would ultimately win any military confrontation, because their supply lines are short, whereas the West’s are long.

    It struck me yesterday that if NATO were to engage with Russia in a real war, both sides’ satellites would quickly be knocked out, but China’s would still be functioning, and they would share info with the Russians. So an escalation of the war would initially lead to a Russian advantage. Or if the Chinese satellites were knocked out too, war between NATO and China.

    1. JohnA

      Apropos the peace talks in March 22, Boris Johnson allegedly flew to Kiev to tell Zelensky to pull out of the talks and continue fighting with Nato support. Johnson of course, was later ousted as Prime Minister due to his countless lies and unstatesman like actions. He has since been given a column in the Daily Mail. In today’s Mail, (and I only saw the headline, I refuse to read anything that liar writes) he doubles down on no negotiations with Putin, on the grounds that Putin assassinated Pigozhin [he states this as fact in his make believe world, not conjecture] and therefore is too evil a man to do business with.
      Johnson as a character tells so many lies, his entire worldview is corrupted.
      His old headmaster at Eton, described Johnson as a student at the famous school, as follows:
      “He sometimes seems affronted when criticised for what amounts to a gross failure of responsibility…I think he honestly believes that it is churlish of us not to regard him as an exception, one who should be free of the network of obligation that binds everyone else….”
      This man, following closely behind Nuland, Sullivan and Biden, is primarily responsible for all the thousands of deaths and maimings that could certainly have been avoided if more sensible politicians were in power.

      1. Frederick Herschel

        Marvelous circumlocution. Marvelous. The old Etonian headmaster, made from the finest and oldest straw, suggesting that the belief that one is exceptional might be the engine behind the current conflict. So wonderfully reminiscent of the innocent world of A. A. Milne. I hope you read this JohnA. Bravo.

      2. Greg Quinn

        I’m absolutely stunned that Zelensky believed anything Boris Johnson told him. Here in the UK, Boris has long been widely recognized as the greatest serial liar of his generation.

        1. Susan the other

          Correct me if I’m too far off, but in my own memory Britain has always been obsessed with Crimea and southeastern Russia. Not only is the Black Sea critical for the oil and grain trade but it is even more critical as a warm water naval base for Russia. Even in 1946 Churchill came on a speaking tour of the US, with both guns loaded, to condemn the Soviet Union, the very nation that defeated nazi Germany. Bojo’s politics are the same. Beginning immediately after WW2, the US and Britain together created the Frankenstein that is modern Ukraine. Some wag last week referred to Ukraine as being Russia’s “Vietnam.” I beg to differ. The attrition inflicted on the US over Vietnam, all due to the conflict within US politics, is not happening to Russia today – it is happening to NATO. Ukraine is NATO’s Vietnam. But our “politics” is such a garbage dump it probably can’t see it.

          1. Synoia

            The UK army officers where I attended University exhibited no such leanings about the Crimea. There were two stinging defeats, the Charge of the Light brigade and Gallipoli. in WW 1 where Churchill was the instigator of the Gallopili defeat.

            The student body included Junior officer getting first degrees, and more senior officers in Staff Collage, Captains and Majors.

        2. NN Cassandra

          On the other hand, how far he could get with peace, when US/UK and thus the whole West were determined to get their littler proxy war with Russia?

    2. Jason Boxman

      Wouldn’t “taking out” these satellites produce so much space junk, if kinetics are used, that we’ll essentially end up with no access to modern satellites in the indefinite future, with these obits potentially off limits?

      That seems like a nasty scenario.

  2. timbers

    I still call out the NYT and WSJ for not coming fully clean, in not explaining the WHY behind concentrating on the South. The reason being the US wanted and still wants to take Crimea and it’s naval importance to forever hem Russia in. Without showing us that Ace of spade, WSJ and NYT are still hiding Washington’s imperialist agenda – that Washington cares about Ukrainian nationalists who want to cleanse Russians out in all the territory called Ukraine ONLY insofar at it enables US to seize Crimea for it’s naval power. In contrast, Z has to feed the hounds surrounding him their nationalist agenda of ethnic cleansing especially in Donbass. For whatever reason, the nationalists seem a bit less obsessed about Crimea. As if they know Crimea is Russian to the bone. But I might be wrong about that part.

    1. Acacia

      Good point, though I’d say they’re not hiding Washington’s imperialist agenda. Rather, they’re actively promoting it, by refusing to do real journalism on US foreign policy. But that’s not really news.

    2. begob

      Budanov gave an interview a few months ago about re-educating the population of Crimea. 3 million, he reckons.

    3. The Rev Kev

      A Ukrainian official was saying that the idea was to head south to the sea to cut the Russian lines in half and then destroy the Kerch bridge. At that point with the Crimeans isolated and cut off from all food and water, that they could have the upper hand in negotiations with the Russians and end the war on their terms by holding those millions of people hostage with starvation looming. That is actually how they think but what is worse is that the west would have given them total political cover to do this and the media would have covered up this emerging war crime.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Russia was supplying Crimea before the Kerch bridge. So it’s false to say destroying the bridge would have much of an impact on Crimea. There would be some scrambling to get more ferries and ships back in operation.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I think that their idea was by bringing up artillery and rocket systems, that not only would they have had the Kerch bridge within range but also the ports on the east coast that supplied Crimea before the building of that bridge. That foothold would have been on the coastline east of Crimea after all. Probably too they reckoned on having their anti-air systems near the coast would put any incoming Russian flights in danger as well. it would have been one of the biggest hostage-taking operations in recent history.

      2. Thestarl

        I would think in this unlikely scenario the Russians would resort to tactical nuclear weapons. Medvedev has already stated this Russia loses we all lose.

    4. Ignacio

      The NYT and the WP wouldn’t admit It but if the consider Z’s obsession with Artyomovsk is political, exactly the same can be said about reaching the Azov. 100% political the desire of the current administration to show progress there before an electoral year starts. Of course, the US would rather their political reasons been prioritised before those of Ukraine, but if you choose to run proxy wars you might expect that the subcontracted operators might act according to their own priorities. Wouldn’t you?

      The blaming game is of course for domestic consumption but It can cause a Big drift.

      1. redleg

        Reaching the Azov might be the only strategic objective that Ukraine has in this war. It’s literally (and littorally, lol) their only way to win- cut off the land bridge and negotiate from strength.

        If anyone else can see a second strategic objective, please let me know.

        1. Ignacio

          Strategic would possibly be reaching and keeping access to Azov sea. Frankly, this is not realistic, so we are talking about political goals here. It looks like strategic but It isn’t.

        2. Retired Carpenter

          I second Ignacio’s point. If reaching Azov was feasible, it would be a strategic win. But, is it realistic to expect the UAF to break through the built-up defenses of an opponent with significant advantages in tube and rocket arty, CAS, strategic air, and backed up with large, fresh, fully-trained and equipped reinforcements led by experienced officers/NCOs? If not, why send these poor folk to certain death? I cannot watch some of the “battle” videos; the carnage is so pointless!

    5. Skip Intro

      These were my thoughts. When the NYT is making revelations, it is useful to look at what they are and aren’t saying. They aren’t saying that keeping the line behind Artyomovsk is strategically critical to prevent an open field run for Russia to the Slavyansk-Kramatorsk line. They aren’t saying that NATO wants Crimea, and failing that, they want a frozen line they can reach Crimea and Black Sea targets from.
      They do regurgitate a line about AFU’s ‘recent aversion to casualties’, which is not particularly in evidence. If anything the switch from light armor advances to infantry advances seems to be equipment-loss averse.
      And they naturally do not make a connection between the lack of airpower and the inevitability of defeat even of an offensive made from all the forces, as they retrospectively recommend.

    6. Monsoon

      One should call them and other surrogate media out because they promote imperialism and a distorted vision of the world.

    7. Es s Cetera

      Not only are the NYT and WSJ not coming fully clean but if the US/NATO strategy all along was a south push to Crimea, this means the destruction of the Kakhova dam was part of that strategy and they’re not asking questions they should be asking, are deliberately avoiding connecting some obvious dots.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Maybe we will someday even learn why Ukraine still keeps sending team and platoon sized units in speedboats over the Dniepr, only for them to be blasted out of the water or splattered all over those little islands close to the left bank in Kherson area.

      1. ChrisPacific

        It’s probably for the best that Ukraine has no chance of recapturing Crimea as it could get really ugly if they did. There are already stories out there about the Ukrainian hunt for ‘collaborators’ in Kherson once it was recaptured, complete with disturbing photographs.

    8. Don

      Absolutely. For all of Zelensky’s bravado about retaking Crimea, the Donbass is what Ukraine desperately wants back. Crimea was never really Ukraine’s to begin with, and “retaking” it is an absurdity; industrial, resource-rich Donbass on the other hand, is its only hope for a prosperous future. The US doesn’t really give a hoot about Donbass, or Ukraine for that matter, but is slavering over seizing Crimea and crippling Russia.

  3. DJG, Reality Czar

    Korybko’s last paragraph: “With the vicious blame game between the US and Ukraine now reaching the level of their military officials telling the press that there are fundamental strategic differences between them, the trust and unity of purpose that were forged over the past 18 months seem to be a thing of the past. These supposed allies are actively looking for a “face-saving” way out of this imbroglio that lays the blame for the counteroffensive’s failure squarely on the other’s lap, which is a totally new dynamic in this conflict.”

    This is Vietnam, all over again.

    Korybko mentions Artyomovsk as an “obsession,” but we don’t know what crappy info and sappy pep talks Zelenskyy was getting from the U.S. of A. and (let’s not forget) the U.K. So we have the Battle of Verdun. Surely, someone could have given Zelenskyy a history lesson. “Obsession” isn’t Korybko’s word, because I have seen it elsewhere. But it most definitely is psychobabble trying to look like tactics.

    As to strategy: Is the Anglo-American strategy still to break up the Russian Federation, defenestrate Putin, and exploit the resultant smaller states-with-nukes? Is that even a strategy?

    Is the Ukrainian strategy still to claim its 1991 borders? Crimea, too?

    These are failed strategies–and the U.S. public isn’t likely to buy into breaking up Russia and the aftermath of nuclear-armed little republics. No offense to Tatars, but Tatarstan with nukes? (Clinton die-hards, excepted, of course, who are still all over Fcbok claiming that the Russians are incompetent man-spreaders.)

    The long list provided by Korybko is a list of failed tactics. Fighting on two fronts. Trying to break through the “land bridge,” as if the Russians wouldn’t have anticipated that. (Ever heard of what happened at Gettysburg?)

    Let the indictments and resignations from the U.S. government begin! (I’m just a cockeyed optimist, ne.)

    1. Gregorio

      It seems to me like the sociopathic U.S. neocons are just getting set up to blame the abject failure of their latest geopolitical wet dream on the Ukrainians. “None of this is our fault, if only they would have listened to our brilliant war planners, and sent a few tens of thousands more into the meat grinder, we could have won this.” Then they will attempt to rinse and repeat as they move on to their China project.

    2. Polar Socialist

      I believe the Kiev’s “obsession” with any city in Malorossiya – recall the bitter fights over Mariupol, Popasna and Severodonetsk, too) is the simple fact that their claim to these has been weak at best. This is the area that Lenin attached to Ukraine in the 20’s, this the area that voted for federal Ukraine in 90’s and this is the area that rebelled against the new regime in 2014.

      Subconsciously they must feel that withdrawing from any of these cities gives legitimacy to the local separatism – or at least legitimacy to the claims that there indeed was a civil war. I’ve seen reports that something like 15-20% of Bakhmutians risked living in the city trough the battle so that they could be liberated.

      Then there’s also the understanding that Ukraine will never, ever get back in negotiations what they’ve given up in war.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Oh, but with all the odd, divergent groups that Russia has a long history of, I bet some people within CIA are totally intoxicated with the presumed possibilities without realizing that it’s an endeavour equivalent of using the Amish against US government.

        1. Daniil Adamov

          Or the Alaskan Independence Party at best. We do have separatist groups. Outside of maybe the Caucasus, none of them are what I would call a serious threat. But they can give interviews to Western journalists.

          If there is a real danger of break-up, it comes from regional elites, not any grassroots national-separatist groups. That is essentially how it happened in the Soviet Union, after all (and the centuries of central rule did not stop that). Only I don’t see any sign of them rebelling either.

  4. The Rev Kev

    Far be it from me to defend Big Z and his government however…..when you look at a map you see that the battlefront is a reversed ‘L’ shape. US officers wanted them to go all in on attacking the south front and just have a minimum force in the east. But herein lies the danger. Perhaps Big Z is still obsessed with Artyomovsk which is why there are so many brigades there. Or perhaps the Ukrainians were figuring that if they concentrated all their combat power in the south and it in the end broke up finally on the first or second line of defence, then suddenly the eastern front would be vulnerable to a Russian counter attack. And such an attack might have taken Kharkov with a follow on threat to Kiev or else a turning movement to the south to take the rest of the eastern flank from behind. That would have been an enormous risk for the Ukrainians to take, just on the say-so of a US general who has never fought in a war like the present one. So here I am prepared to give the Ukrainians a pass-

    1. Aleric

      I agree this factor seems to be completely overlooked. Also, just the practical matter of moving troops, supplies, and heavy equipment out of relatively secure bases and then hundreds of miles while under rocket attack. They could have been neutralized before reaching the south. (Not sympathizing with the Ukies, more disgust with the media covering for the brutality of the us military advisors.)

    2. ilsm

      It has been inferred that the Russian military sends more time on history than the US’.

      Some should review the May 1940 German campaigns.

      The French and British moved their armies into Belgium to defend against the thrust of mostly infantry toward ‘Waterloo’. They had been studying the ‘von Shleiffen plan’ since before WW I.

      The German mobile forces, Guderian and Rommel got across the Meuse (a bit more artillery or dropping the bridges) and drove to cut off the main allied active forces and then Dunkirk.

      A few German officers sold this plan to Hitler, while the general staff was highly skeptical.

      You maintain fronts for reason!

      USA is not getting its money worth from the pentagon, industry congress complex!

      Look how the Germans did at Kursk just about 80 years ago, two axes, one more successful than the other…… Would they have better one axis?

      1. Roland

        In fairness to the Allied command, the original German 1940 plan bore similarity to Schlieffen’s, but was less ambitious–that original German plan for 1940 did not envision the complete defeat of France in a single campaign. There was little enthusiasm for that plan among the German field commanders, even though they admitted the staff’s logic in making it.

        Sometimes I wonder whether the airplane accident that caused the plan to fall into Allied hands was not contrived by disgruntled elements in the German high command. Of course, then the question would be whether the plot was made by those who wanted a stalemate and a compromise peace, or by those who just wanted to force a major change of plan. So it was probably just an accident after all.

        Then Rundstedt contrived a way to get Manstein (formerly of his own staff) into a face to face talk with Hitler. Manstein proposed his concept of a high-risk, high reward operation that offered a chance to get the sort of strategic and political results that Hitler was looking for. A big risk: an entire army group would have to spend several days strung out in almost completely roadbound columns through a forested region (those columns would total several thousand kilometres in length). If the enemy discovers that movement in the first 48 hours, then the Germans could be defeated in detail, with little chance to deploy, and even less chance to retreat–fiasco.

        It’s understandable that such a brash plan would never make its way up the normal army channels. But war is politics. Some credit belongs to Hitler. People are constantly pitching ideas at the guy in charge–or keeping things away from him. Hitler was able to recognize an outside idea that was good, and then, with his characteristic dynamism, made the change happen quickly.

        What the Germans did not know was that the Allies had somehow, through a committee process, made their own plan riskier and riskier each time they modified it. At first they intended only to secure a shorter frontage on good defensive terrain. But then the Allied plan grotesquely metamorphosized into an offensive in its own right, meant to secure a bridgehead in Holland. For this purpose, the forces originally earmarked to be held in central reserve were instead fully committed from the outset, to rush forward on the extreme left wing.

        Therefore, the Allied command accepted the prospect of starting a major campaign without having any formed strategic reserve. Even Joffre, at the beginning of the Great War, with his notoriously reckless Plan XVII, had nevertheless kept one of his five armies in reserve, concentrated and ready at his disposal.

        The Allies in 1940 are often accused of timidity, which isn’t exactly true. Rather, they had collectively inched their way into doing something that was extremely imprudent. There, perhaps, we might see a similarity between alliances then and now.

        1. Polar Socialist

          Manstein had the best PR after the war, he did. From what I’ve read, the current understanding is that almost everyone in German High Command had their share of the planning: Keitel said it was mostly his and Hitler’s, Halder’s aides said it was his, Rundsten claimed it as his as did Manstein and Blumentritt. And everything in the plan was based on doctrine developed by Guderian (who also claimed part of the glory).

          The fact is that the chosen plan was the only one which in war games by the German staff did not end with German defeat every time. It was a risky plan, but it was actually the least risky of them.

          Yet there was little enthusiasm for a gamble like that in the German Army. Had Hitler pushed for the original date for the offensive in November 1939, the officers would likely have mutinied. For a reason there were no regular army units in Berlin at the time, only SS and Luftwaffe.

    3. Skip Intro

      Exactly. Many expected that the breakthrough of the main Ukrainian defense line at Soledar/Artyomovsk to lead to a rapid Russian advance. I think the propaganda mills must have fallen for their own ‘Bakhmut is symbolic’ cope.

    4. ChrisFromGA

      I agree 100% with you, Rev Kev. I detect some subtle bias here in Korybko, in the direction of thinking that the Pentagon armchair generals are somehow smarter than the Ukrainians. I think it is the opposite – the Ukrainians are only surviving and doing as well as they are because they’re ignoring or contesting the advice they’re getting.

      Remember the US has lost practically every foreign war they’ve fought over the past 50 odd years, with the exception of Gulf War 1. There is a legacy of FAIL here that makes me wonder why people cling to the notion that the Pentagon is some sort of font of military wisdom.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Strongly disagree. You are reading Korybko’s taking exact quotes from Pentagon-biased pieces as if it were advocacy, as opposed to being meticulous so as to avoid being accused of misrepresenting what they say.

        I am beginning to see way too many readers exhibiting a bias toward Korybko and making criticisms I do not see them making of authors using similar approaches to evidence.

        1. ChrisFromGA

          On re-reading, it is clear that I misattributed the bias here to Korybko.

          It’s the idea, not the person, that I should have criticized. If only those stupid Ukrainians had listened to the Wile E. Coyote-level geniuses in the Pentagon, they’d be rolling through the streets of Sevastopol now.

          That looks like a Swamp-based, propaganda-driven, narrative-shaping special. It is clearly the Pentagon that stands to benefit from adoption of that idea, by distancing themselves from the yuuge failure of the counteroffensive.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Sorry if I was testy. I am very protective of writers here.

            Korybko does not always have great control over his register, and that can annoy readers (including me!). But this was not one of his pieces with that shortcoming.

            But yes, Ukraine had no wining plays here when the US now is trying to sell the story otherwise. Perhaps merely holding the line in Bakhmut and concentrating more forces in Zaporzhizhia would have led to the short-term ability to continue the pretense that Ukraine was winning. But that would not change the end game of the destruction of the former Ukraine as long as the West is not willing to concede that Russia has legitimate security concerns.

      2. XXYY

        One of the big takeaways from the Ukraine war has been the complete and utter incompetence of the US military planning staffs and the remarkable uselessness of US and NATO military hardware when not fighting people wearing sandals.

        For decades the US and European populations have been propagandized to think of their militaries as some kind of unbeatable force. One obvious benefit of this has been to justify these societies spending a trillion dollars or more each year on military budgets. It’s now become obvious that Americans and Europeans are getting very little for their money, and that the resultant militaries aren’t good for much except when fighting developing nations.

        The memory of this pathetic performance will linger for a generation or more.

        1. Roland

          I would be wary of drawing any large conclusions from the course of this war to date, whether concerning NATO or RF capabilities, or about the nature of battle today.

          NATO forces have not openly engaged. Would it be smart to pronounce on what they can or cannot do, based on somebody else’s fighting? Would you judge yourself that way?

          Meanwhile, most of RF forces are being held en potence, presumably in case of open war with NATO. That would suggest, firstly, that RF high command is not as dismissive of NATO as you are. Secondly, it suggests that the sort of fighting in Ukraine to date might not closely resemble full-scale RF operations against major powers.

          The Ukraine War has led many people to downplay airpower. But again, the NATO air forces have not been committed, nor have most of the RF’s air forces. Is that because air forces are obsolete, or because the wider strategic situation has limited the commitment of air forces in the Ukrainian theatre?

          How do we kibitz a chess game, when we can’t see most of the board, don’t know which pieces have been taken, and can only guess whose move is next?

          I’ve spent many cheerful hours playing or designing wargames. But when I wargame, I at least have an idea of what I’m simulating. I don’t have that here, so I don’t try to kid myself. I think I’ll be dead before I get a chance to properly game this war.

          Those of us who want to know and to think, and who love to know and to think, can trick ourselves into thinking we know, and loving it.

          I don’t know, and I hate it. I hate this war, and I want it to end at once. If I were an American, I’d follow the KISS principle, and do nothing but vote Trump–the only candidate who both wants peace, and has a reasonable chance to win.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Huh? The Ukraine army was touted as trained to NATO standards and allegedly the best equipped.

            What you see in Ukraine is how NATO operates on the offense, as it has in other insurgent wars.

            The traditional NATO is defensive and organized on a nation–by-nation basis. Even under Article 4, each country decides whether to respond to a threat to a fellow NATO member. That military is NOT cohesive. Due to the need for national pork, you have different weapons systems in most members, which is a logistical nightmare, and even per Scott Ritter, different training members for troops.

        2. jrkrideau

          One of the big takeaways from the Ukraine war has been the complete and utter incompetence of the US military planning staffs

          I was noticing this during the Afghanistan withdrawal. Even if the Pentagon did not believe there really would be one, immediate contingency planning should have begun the moment the US stared negotiations with the Taliban during Trump’s administration. That they seemed to have no clue what to do when it became obvious Biden would stick, more or less, to the agreement is damning.

          1. Felix_47

            I was at Bagram quite a few times. It was paid for, fit for servicing any plane, huge, with living facilities, PX, a car dealer, a Harley Davidson dealer, a fully equipped hospital with MRI scan etc to US standards, high rise office buildings, all air conditioned. It used to be the main Russian base. On my nine mile run around the circumference I would admire the old Russian armor abandoned in the weeds. It was just 50 or so miles from Kabul. The maintenance cost was manageable and nothing like the costs in my previous deployment when we had forward operating bases all over the country. We had already shut down our huge base in Kandahar. We were paying rent and the Afghans and Taliban accepted us as a fait accompli and cashed the rent checks. We provided thousands of jobs for the locals many of whom were Taliban. We were in the base and they controlled the country except for the city PMC class in Kabul. The Taliban did not mess with us and by extension the nominal Afghan government. Not one American was killed by the Taliban the previous year. There was no financial or moral reason to abandon Bagram. Moral because although the Taliban controlled the country as long as the base was there they always knew that if they went overboard on women’s rights or tried to overthrow the kleptocrats in Kabul or anything else that we could escalate and that kept things quiet. I think it was Joe that decided to close Bagram first in July….I do not believe anyone experienced in the Army thought it was a good idea. I suspect the State Department wanted to hang on its offices and facilities and villas with servants in Kabul and they realized that if we held Bagram open they might have to move. As a result the government fell and we left Kabul in the most deadly and disorganized way. Joe showed his situational ignorance and inability to take advice. He was warned beforehand. Tragic.

        3. Don

          I am far too cynical to attribute it to incompetence: they want Crimea and don’t give a damn how many Ukrainian lives it takes to get it. Ukraine is right to attach enormous importance to Bahkmut and Donbass, but that’s not what the US cares about. The dispute is not over military strategies, it is a reflection of differing geopolitical goals

  5. Benny Profane

    Reading Simplicius this morning has made me come to a sorry conclusion that maybe this thing is arriving at an awful “stalemate”. There’s a photo of new minefields at the end that Ukraine has laid in the east, and, as he says, it’s no wonder nobody is advancing quickly. Russia attempted an offense recently near Bakmuht, and basically got massacred for a few days. We’ve all seen the maps with the defense lines in the south that Russia has constructed for months, but, if Ukraine has enough men and the ability, they’ll soon be building similar defenses in the west, especially around Kiev, and, thus, maybe Korea for decades in one of the most fertile ag centers in the world. But, maybe they don’t have that sort of manpower. It certainly is what they should be pivoting to at this point, instead of feeding untrained men into meat grinders. And, if this full mobilization happens, well, no bodies will be left to throw at Russia, if it all fails. Just a tiny, terrorist army tossing NATO missiles and bombs towards Russia, eating Nuland’s cookies for breakfast.
    But, the real news is BRICs. If that succeeds, and it will take time, and, it seems the momentum is there, a pivotal moment in world history.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I think Simplicius puts up posts like this now and again to not look like too much of a Russia fan. I have seen him even in the same post try to have it both ways. In the one on Prigozhin’s then only presumed death, he made a definitive statement that Putin didn’t do it (shooting down a plane near Moscow is amateur hour and the sort of thing cooked up in spy novels) then later argued the reverse. I can find other examples but that is easy.

      I don’t know what he is talking about re a Russian offensive in Bakhumut. It’s Ukraine that has been trying to retake it. That is extremely well reported in the Western press because Ukraine’s military minders were opposed, see the Korybko post on the NYT and WSJ stories today. Those follow other accounts of US/NATO upset about how Ukraine is conducting its offensive operations. Russia is perfectly happy to again make Bakhmut a meat grinder until the Ukraine push burns out.

      Russia is advancing slowing in Kupiansk despite Russia not making that a major offensive. It may have been initially intended to make sure Ukraine didn’t pull troops from there to amp up forces in Zaporzhizhia, but Russia now looks to be pushing harder.

      Ukraine has put its very last reserves into the Zaporzhizhia offensive when it has not even taken full control of the tiny village of Robotyne and has not reached the first Russian fortified line.

      It will not be able to sustain operations at this level, while Russia has plenty of manpower and materiel in reserve.

      As for Kiev, that’s a bizarre argument. Russia has never intended to take Kiev. That’s Western projection.

      And if Russia were to change its mind, as they say in Dune, “He who can destroy a thing controls a thing.”

      Among the Russia options is destroying the grid. Russia was merely playing cat and mouse before, surgically doing damage so the power could be restored in not too long a time so as to force Ukraine to deploy a fair bit of what was left of its air defense and expend them on Kiev, as opposed to near any Russian combat operation. Russia clearly has the precision targeting and the knowledge of the grid to turn the lights out for good. And Western equipment can’t be used for repairs. Ukraine runs on Soviet-era equipment that only Russia makes. Ukraine might get some spares from other former Warsaw Pact members….but they were doing that already.

      Oh, and if the power is out during the winter, that means pipes burst. I forget the long-form details, but in most cases, you can’t drain them if the power goes out and stays out. Widespread destroyed pipes = uninhabitable buildings.

      1. Benny Profane

        Yeah. The grid is key. Last winter was relatively mild, but, if they get a cold one this year, it’s going to be pretty bad. No air defenses left to protect it. And the trains are electric powered.

        As always, the most important date is November ’24.

          1. Benny Profane

            Yeah, but 20-40 ton tanks need serious frozen surfaces. You know, like in upstate NY where I lived when locals waited for that first January week long below zero freeze, and then could drive out on the lakes in their SUVs and drink while staring into a fishing hole.

          2. Detroit Dan

            That’s not what I see at the link on Ukraine weather in January 2023. e.g. Jan 20 – 50° F.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Apologies, I misread the horizontal scale since the top of the chart said it was for all of Jan when the table proper shows several days and time blocks with the days.

              Nevertheless, the point about freezing pipes still holds. There were 17 days when temps all day were below freezing.

              1. jrkrideau

                The point about freezing pipes at those temperatures holds but if I am reading those temperatures correctly they don’t look cold enough to get a deep enough freeze to support a tank, particularly if there was any snow cover.

                I come from tropical South-Eastern Ontario but I would have thought one would want 10-12 days of, say, -8 to -10 degree weather before you would even drive a car on a lake.

    2. Feral Finster

      The question is whether Russia has the stomach for an offensive.

      Ukraine has a hard core of full on Nazis, however most Ukrainians simply see victory as the price that is being charged to join The West, the magical land of easy living, the Land Where Institutions Basically Work. (Thst those institutions don’t perform as advertised and western standards are declining is beside the point, that is how they are perceived in Ukraine.)

      Russia has so comparable motivation.

      1. Polar Socialist

        A “mediocre arrow” Russian operation that captures/destroys 30-40,000 Ukrainians in a week or two would likely make it clear to Ukrainians that a victory is not an option they have, nor will they ever be allowed to join The West.

        Meanwhile Russians every day more aware that if they don’t crush Ukraine and NATO now, there will be a new war in the horizon. I think that is a motivation enough.

      2. Benny Profane

        Most Ukranians voted for Zelensky on a peace with Russia platform. And I’ll bet a lot of the hard corp Nazis are dead or maimed.
        All of us armchair warriors probably have a lot less patience than Putin.

  6. ilsm

    From the 1980’s NATO planned for a defensive “air-land battles”.

    In Ukraine, US left out the air side of the battle resources.

    40 or 60 old F-16’s are not the air side. Those 40 jets would need over $100 billion is supports to be useable!

    The air side of the war in Donbas would be the 1980’s standard (fifth generation is F-35 unproven theory which is not ready for prime time) force structure installed in South Vietnam, Thailand and Guam multiplied by at least 1.5 (Rolling Thunder) in numbers.

    Stripping those forces and supports is in the 30’s of billions, and moving the logistics is a career in itself!

    Time and resources no one has!

    And would not likely defeat the adversary.

  7. Hickory

    Months ago I was debating with friends whether Ukraine was doing as well as the newspapers were saying. Who to believe, the Russians or Ukrainians+Americans? I pointed out it doesn’t have to be a loyalty contest: both sides agreed that Russia was launching 5-10x the artillery shells compared to Ukraine. This would obviously lead to lopsided casualties as every military study ever has shown. And this made clear that Ukraine+America was lying when they claimed much higher Russian casualties, and so this sudden about-face in the media was predictable.

    The depth of the failure still amazes me though.

  8. Louis Fyne

    In hindsight, despite claims of Putin = 4-D master chess player, it is clear that Russia was not ready for a multi-year high-intensity war in Feb 2022 (only a rehash of a conflict like the 2008 Georgia War).

    See Russian shortages of air-dropped precision guidance bombs (JDAMs) as an example.

    However much like fictional film quote of Yamamoto “awaken a sleeping [American] giant,” the Russian military-industrial giant has awoken.

    The Russian military-industrial base has produced, and is producing, a tsunami of weapons platforms, drones, ammunition that started to reach the front this summer.

    Not only enough weapons to fight in Ukraine, but enough weapons and mobilized men to deter and fight NATO forces.

    Hopefully the White House has enough sense to know that World War 3 is bad for elections.

    1. Es s Cetera

      Whether Russia was ready or not in Feb ’22, it’s interesting how as far back as the 50’s US doctrine has always been “don’t poke the Russian bear”, there seems to have been some degree of tacit understanding that to fully awaken the bear would not be a good thing, better to let it sleep.

      Then came 2014, NATO up and punched the bear, then again in ’22 with demolishing Minsk, again with nuclear threats, and again with supplying military aid, and again with demolishing Istanbul. Oh boy, are we punching that bear or what…

      And with China, now we’re punching TWO bears.

    2. Detroit Dan

      I wonder if the Biden Admin / U.S. care about the effect of the war on elections. No anti-war candidate will be allowed to run. Perhaps critical commentary will seep through to the mainstream media and boost the chances of opposition candidate ? (I don’t think Trump will be given another chance by the establishment.)

    3. Feral Finster

      That is no an unfair analysis. The question is whether Russia is ready to take the casualties that will be needed to win, or whether it hopes that this war will somehow just go away.

      No war was won by remaining forever on the defensive.

      1. juno mars

        But all wars are won when the enemy runs out of manpower. The Surovikin Line has served its purpose: maintain the land bridge to Crimea; force Ukraine to advance to get the same land back; and allow Russia to move men and materiel along a long line of contact (straining Uk’s logistics).

  9. Lex

    “American military officials have been urging the Ukrainians to return to the combined arms training they received at allied bases in Europe by concentrating their forces to try to bust through Russia defenses and push to the Sea of Azov.”

    None of the “combined arms training” Ukraine received was adequate in length or depth to achieve what American military officials are asking. And from multiple Ukrainian sources, the genera consensus is that the trainers don’t actually know what they’re talking about. Which is logical given that the last time the US came close to fighting the way they’re telling Ukraine to fight was 20 years ago.

    We’re consistently told that Kiev gets to make the decisions (mostly so we can’t be blamed for them), but now the story is that Kiev isn’t doing what it’s told. It’s not willing to sacrifice enough lives for our plan to work. But it’s pure theory that a massive assault on the south would have worked. If it had failed, the failure would have been too catastrophic to hide. Apparently the US advisors aren’t calculating Zelensky’s domestic political position.

    It’s not so much about keeping military factions happy as it is that he must keep the war going. At this point, if it stops he’s done. What’s he going to do with all the men who are demobilized and angry that it was for nothing? What’s he going to do about the economy that the US won’t support because it doesn’t really care. And US media is being coy, if the war stops with anything less than a complete Ukrainian victory, the US loses. Biden staked US power and reputation on this. He’s almost as trapped as Zelensky (internationally, not domestically).

    1. Detroit Dan

      Well said!

      If a statemate ensues, then the focus turns to the diplomatic and economic fronts, where Russia has been more active and successful. Scapegoating Putin will soon lose its propaganda power if he’s just consolidating the territory Russia has gained. BRICS is a work in progress. What does the West have going on?

  10. Feral Finster

    TL;DR western tactics work a lot better when you can call on unlimited air support and are facing poorly trained, poorly equipped and undermotivated opponents.

    1. Lex

      The funny part is that other than 6ish weeks in 2003, the US hasn’t actually fought in the combined arms manner it’s currently telling Ukraine to do better since Korea (maybe parts of Vietnam). And in an objective analysis of those heady days in Iraq, it didn’t go nearly as well as the popular consensus imagines it.

      There were some pretty touch and go moments in there. Franks almost got fired. Maintenance of the Abrams turned out to be hugely problematic. Even with 9 months of preparation, logistics faltered. Nobody even bothered to plan for feeding the “liberated” populations and an oil for food ship had to be hijacked. And in the end, the mad dash for Baghdad was because everything was behind schedule; if Saddam had managed to stand and fight at Baghdad it could have been a disastrously bloody nose for the US.

      I’d hope that there were serious people involved in US military planning, the type who understand that and the sorts of challenges a Ukrainian offensive in these conditions would have to overcome. I think I’ll be disappointed again.

      1. hk

        The amazing thing is that “stalemate” in Korea took a lot of effort. I tend to think Ukrainians are in a shape not unlike North Korea in October, 1950, so I’ll analogize what NATO “needs” to do to achieve even that “stalemate” in terms of what USSR/PRC did. The latter two sent a million man “volunteer” army and a large cadre of veteran pilots flying the near latest (MiG 17s were not there, but most updated versions of MiG 15s were). If, I suppose, NATO were sending pretty much all their ground forces “voulunteeting” as part of the Ukrainian army and the entirety USAF in Europe flying over Western half of Ukraine in a “Lockheed-Martin Alley,” that may be enough to force a Korea-like stalemate…or not, since Ukraine is far more important to Russia than Korea was to US. Not exactly the situation where anyone can do better than in Korea….

  11. Aurelien

    If you were reasonably numerate, if you had taken a layman’s interest in the progress of the war, and were capable of understanding military organisation and reading a military map, then you would have concluded, even before the Great Spring sorry Summer offensive started, that the Ukrainians were going to get stiffed, irrespective of exactly how and where they attacked. They were numerically inferior, with less artillery, were using a lot of western equipment not designed for this kind of operation, and had no airpower or helicopters to speak of. They were attacking an enemy superior in every respect, who had had months to prepare elaborate defences, and overwhelming air superiority. Now in which universe do the Ukrainians break through and totally destroy Russian forces?

    I’m afraid the answer is, in a universe inhabited by NATO planners, where the Russians are roughly equivalent to the Iraqis in terms of morale, leadership and tenacity. So all that mattered was to break through the security line, and the Russians would go streaming back to the sea, throwing away their weapons, and Putin would be overthrown. NATO training and NATO weapons would be sufficient to destroy the morale of the Russians, after which the war would be over. It hardly mattered what tactics were employed, but the best solution, they thought, was to make a concentrated attack and open a large hole in the security line, after which the rest of the battle would take care of itself.

    Now it’s easy to mock, and quite justifiable here, but it’s also interesting that the only wars that NATO has fought in living memory were of this type. Gulf War 1,0 was actually expected to be much harder than it was, and later analysis showed that there was relatively little difference in equipment, but an absolutely phenomenal difference in training and leadership between the two sides. Computer simulations afterwards couldn’t actually simulate the size of the Iraqi defeat without, from memory, having human factors account for about 90% of the result. Gulf War 2,0 was less dramatic, but followed the same kind of pattern. And of course in Iraq 2,0+ and Afghanistan, the insurgents never stayed around to fight. I think that for NATO planners, the idea of an enemy that stood and fought in the face of NATO-trained and equipped troops is something they simply couldn’t contemplate.

    1. Daniil Adamov

      Yes, pretty much – their only hope was that our forces would simply break at the first sign of serious pressure due to poor organisation and morale*. I suppose if you have made up your mind to keep fighting, it makes sense to at least try the only thing that could possibly bring you victory, how ever unlikely. The only alternatives were negotiation (politically difficult at best and anyway ruled out by a higher power) or deep defence (but if time is not on Ukraine’s side due to differences in production, that is just a delayed defeat). To keep trying when it doesn’t work on first try… well, that’s gambling for you.

      *That is not completely unfounded – I never served, due to health, but reading or speaking to people who actually did has never painted a very positive image of the modern Russian military. From their accounts, corruption and officer idiocy are commonplace, sapping motivation, although it must be said that 1) it varies significantly from unit to unit, 2) war has a way of forcing a military to smarten up eventually, 3) many of the complaints would probably apply to every military, and the Ukrainian one more than most given our shared heritage. Regardless, the military turned out to be still not nearly bad enough for the other side’s purposes. Also, while the partial mobilisation was a predictable mess, it seems the months afterwards were actually used very well to sort out the problems and bring the new troops into fighting shape.

  12. Petter

    Another take – and full disclosure, I gave up following the details of the where, when and how of this war months ago.
    I listened to the Radio War Podcast the other night and they were discussing tactics – basic defense and offense.
    They referenced the Battle of Gettysburg:
    Longstaff had advised Lee set up a defensive position and let the North march across an open field and get mowed down instead of marching across the open field themselves. The question then arose – how could they know that the North would attack? Answer: the Media would insist upon it.

  13. Beachwalker

    All wars beget cottage industries of Monday Morning Quarterbacks. “If only someone then knew what I know now.” With a good handle on how to present oneself as wise, seasoned “expert,” one can make a pretty good living refighting old battles. There’s still a lot of mileage to be had from second guessing Lee at Gettysburg, or Napoleon at Waterloo, etc., etc.

    Not to say that militaries shouldn’t try to learn from the past (put the emphasis here on “try” because it ain’t that easy). But the MSM and really all media outlets offer so much many good incentives to get into the old-military-expert business, that I suspect that a good many military advisors have their eyes set on that career path long before they even retire.

  14. Glen

    I have to admit, I find the whole ruckus in the American newspapers trying to explain away what’s happening in the Ukraine/Russia conflict as bizarre. American politicians and generals yelling at Ukrainians about how to fight the war when America officially doesn’t have warm body in the fight just goes to show you that the American elite stupidity that thinks writing a check means they own you is pervasive in America. It’s Ukrainians and Russians being killed and wounded in massive, massive numbers.

    But Biden and the neocons somehow think this is going to make Biden look like FDR? He comes off more as a war mongering idiot picking losing fights with nuclear armed world powers while America cannot even take care of it’s own people: everything gets more expensive, homelessness is ignored, whole towns burn (again). Can we point out that FDR had been working hard to get America out of the Great Depression with the New Deal for eight years prior to being attacked and getting into WW2? Does Biden think provoking Russia into WW3 is going to win an election? Cause it aint. And neither is turning Ukraine into some sorta Nuland inspired hellscape.

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