A Pyrrhic Defeat

Falling through the universe at the speed of life

By David Glenn Cox

Tick, tick, tick, tick in a classic military diversion. The Ukrainians feigned an offensive in the South, then attacked in the East. Hook line and sinker, retaking large swaths of area with the Russians hot footing it and hoofing it so fast, that they left behind lunch. (Come on, we gotta go Yuri!) Lunch amid the tons of supplies munitions and millions of dollars in military equipment, also abandoned in their haste.

It is the military equivalent of Dein Bien Phu or The Tet offensive. Six months in and the Russians have mainly solved their logistical problems by staying put in one place. They have the situation so well in hand that they just had their ass handed to them, yet again.

Only this one is serious, serious as in the Russians assumed, this would always be safe territory and so defended it poorly. Late in the sixth round of the fight, the challenger just staggered the champ with a blow to the chin. It was only one punch. It didn’t knock them out and to the judges it was only one point, but it says so much more and with Winter coming. We’ve all read about the harsh winter conditions in those parts.

Stuck with the crème of the Russian crop, an army of draftees who mainly don’t want to be there. More like a penal colony with rifles. Draftees doing community service who can’t go home, unless they do what they’re told. Who just want to take their stolen loot and leave.

The news is so bad that its even made it to Russian state media, with an official Russian Army announcement of “We meant to do that! To fall back thirty or forty miles abandoning our equipment as we go and screaming in bloody terror. This will confuse our adversaries and bolster the moral fiber of affiliated troops!”

Russian hardliners demand that Putin stop screwing around and send in the real army and double down. To unleash Stalin’s arsenal and begin a general conscription. Only, that was the real Army. They ain’t got another one, or they would have used it before now.

Somehow, I doubt calling up the second team of draftees is going to help much at this point. Just adding more untrained targets for Ukrainian guns, besides numbers don’t help much when you’re running away. They become an unnecessary impediment to getting the hell out of Dodge.

Anything less than six months of training and you’re going to have the Three Stooges out there. Moeski, Larryski and Yuri. “Why, I oughta thump you! You just blew up the general’s car!” I’m a victim of circumstances! Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk! “Yeah, well, the general was still in it!”

Early in the war shoot downs of Russian fighter planes and helicopters were common. And if you’ve been keeping up, they are not so common now. Not because the Russian commanders have grown cautious with their deployments. But because they weren’t cautious with their earlier deployments before now.

The Russian fist will shatter all before it. With your shield or on your shield fellas. Six months in the Russian Air force has effectively neutered itself. Bad things happen if you don’t win, so sometimes commanders make bad decisions based on a strong fear of losing. They don’t have control of the skies or is it ever likely, that they will ever have it again.

People remember General Sherman’s comment about being on the scene, with the firstest and with the mostest. Few remember his follow up comment, about being able to keep it to the lastest. Don’t matter how many cannons you bring along with you, if you lose them all anyway.

Mathematics is a very rigid and unbending military science. If you have 100 frontline attack helicopters and you lose 100 frontline attack helicopters. How many frontline attack helicopters do you have left? And how many volunteers are left over to fly the next mission?

Sherman would also advise you to attack with your best first. Don’t wait to use up all of the old dead stock before attacking with the good stuff. The Russians took that advice and are now using their 1970s and 80s vintage tanks claimed from the reclamation depot. Civilian buses to move troops around. Legend has it, If you start the war without enough trucks, you will finish the war without enough trucks.

First, the Russian’s lost their hi-tech radio suppression units and fancy units and guns. The air defense units proved ineffective against the Ukrainian drones. Because the Russian army is now a bacteria surrounded in the body by millions and millions of white blood cells. They are unable to move, sit or fart without it instantly being reported back to Ukrainian headquarters. The cell phone is their greatest weapon.

In a military where a bad decision could end up in a prison sentence or worse. No decision is the order of the day. Let someone else make that call. “I was awaiting instructions when my position was overrun. I had already retreated twenty or thirty miles, when the order to hold my position was given. I was halfway to Moscow and burning up my Nikes.” In retaliation for the humiliating defeat, the Russians fired a volley of the now rare species of cruise missile.

A minimum of two to five years to rebuild the air force and probably more like ten or twenty, after all the sanctions have been lifted of course. Without doubling the military budget in a crumbling economy, the Russian Army is done for. The latest generation of Russian tanks has been in development for a decade. Only they never seem to produce any of them, because of their great expense.

If this were a chess game, the Ukrainians have just taken the Russian Queen. The game isn’t over yet, but the winner has largely already been decided. Six months in looking at six more months of a long cold winter. (Remember the boys in the cold trenches this Christmas.) Awaiting yet another muddy spring.

It is hard to imagine a Russian path to victory at this point. The images of all the burned-out tanks destroyed truck convoys and burning aircraft, as common as the birds in the trees.  These things have a cumulative and finite quantity about themselves and X = 0.

There is no Bell Helicopter or General Dynamics in Russia to deliver more attack helicopters by the end of the week. Modern war is a run what you brung affair. No fair calling time out, to build new tanks or fighter planes. These are the images and pictures of an air force all shot to hell and of an army largely spent. The Russians have shot their bolt and are now surrounded by the Zulus. The Russian Navy was completely demoralized by a country that doesn’t even have a Navy.

There is no crazy Russian sucker punch to turn things around, no Ardennes offensive or secret wonder weapons waiting for just the right moment to unleash. Politically, the war is already over. Six months in, the Ukrainian’s are stronger and fighting better than ever. Six months in the Russians are in full retreat, with their air force all but gone and their Army, all but routed.

Putin hopes a cold winter and cold living rooms will bring Western Europe to their senses. To do for him what his failed and now largely mythical army couldn’t do. Only, living in a collapsed economy and not being able afford any heat is no different than not having any heat.  It is a political truism – After military defeat comes economic collapse.

You can push and push and push, but if you get tired, then you can’t push anymore. After having used the accumulated blood, treasure and strength of the nation to largely accomplish nothing and with no end in sight.

A Pyrrhic Defeat and the end of the road.

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