More than Men with Guns

By David Glenn Cox

As we approach the first year of the Russia – Ukraine war there are many lessons repeated from the past. The Russians with great hubris had visions of their army as they wished it was, rather than how it really was. They invaded with great numbers of forces on a great number of fronts. They planned for a short war, but they didn’t plan for anything else.

Meaning the Russians were short of everything from day one. The Russian plan was to bludgeon Ukraine with a mass wave of tanks and artillery. But that plan broke down, the air force took heavy losses. The helicopters took heavy losses, and it all began to fall apart. The Russian air force has largely been withdrawn. The Russian air force is a ghost of what it once was. Without air cover armored vehicles become easy targets.

It has become a WW1 scenario of trench warfare. The battle for Bakhmut is looking like the Battle of the Somme. The Russians lost 670 men on Tuesday. That’s considered a slow day. On a busy day 900 to a thousand. And it has been going on like that for a month. Trading a 1,000 men for a couple of acres. There is nothing in Bakhmut worth suffering those kind of losses. It smacks of political demands for victory and the military costs be damned.

Reports tell of the draftees and convicts sent in just to identify Ukrainian positions. Then the regular Russian Army comes in to fight using the draftees as cannon fodder. That’s not an efficient way to operate an Army. You can’t build a better Army by using your troops like that. The same reports tell of Russian equipment shortages.

In the beginning of the war, the Russians were losing eight or ten armored vehicles in a day. Now they lose two or three per day. Either the Russians have become very clever, or there are less and less targets available. The number of Russian drones shot down has also fallen off. Either the Russians are getting clever, or they are running out of drones.

Since the Russians are the invaders, it is incumbent upon them to make territorial gains. Bakhmut shows a stunted and depleted Russian Army. Due to a lack of discipline ignoring orders not to use personal cell phones. The Russians have lost an exorbitant number Army Generals and Colonels. Which means there is always a new guy in charge. The recent Ukrainian attack on a Russian base where the ammunition was stored right next door to where the troops were sleeping illustrates this ineptitude.

The Russians have been fighting for a year. Their Army is exhausted and lacking equipment. Their air force is defunct. The Russians have been rehabbing tanks from the 1960s taken from storage sometimes completing five or six a week. They have no other sources of tanks or armored vehicles. The Russians have no source of new aircraft or new ships for the Black Sea Fleet. The Russian Navy has lost the battle of the Black Sea to country without a Navy.

Water drones have made the harbor in Sevastopol unsafe. So, the Russians have no safe anchorage. The Russians recently announced that Russian citizens and military dependents should leave Crimea. That’s not a sign that inspires a lot of confidence.

But all is not well in Ukraine, losses pile up on both sides. NATO leaders met last week to discuss the ammunition shortage. With time lines of up to two years for replacement. This is why the new tank force was so rapidly offered by NATO. The Western tanks could make the difference and break through the trenches just as they did in 1917.

Both sides exhausted in a bloody stalemate. These cell phone don’t just identify officer locations the Russian soldiers are also calling home. So, the folks at home know about how bad the situation is, and the war is commonly referred to as “Putin’s War.” The departure of one million draft age men from the country says it all.

The Russian media whistle passed the grave yard. Saying they can’t wait to start destroying Leopard or Abrams tanks. But without something to counter the Leopards and Abrams the spring looks dark indeed for the Russians.

In the opening days of WW2, the Japanese had the best trained aviators and equipment. But through attrition the Japanese lost their edge in pilots and equipment. And towards the end of the war had planes but no pilots.

Recently the Russians have begun operations near the Russian border because they fear their escape could be cut off. An offensive in the South could cut Crimea off from Russian succor. The Russian have a huge front vulnerable at both ends. Leaving the center of the front exposed.

Now this week, we have Russian incursions into NATO airspace. The Russian media already call this a war against NATO. So, they hope to create chaos and an international incident in hopes of drawing in the UN for negotiations. It is a desperate move not unlike unlimited U-boat War in WW1. To create a crisis in hopes to bring about negotiations.  

But this desperate move makes it all very clear that Russia is losing the war. That Russia is growing weaker and weaker. Media reports of a promised coming Russian offensive are just that, media reports. Human wave attacks always signal the end of an army. Soldiers sent out on a patrol with only one magazine of ammunition. Always means the same thing, the end of the road.

And so, the Ukrainian Tankers train Poland and the UK as the deliveries begin to arrive.

A Russia once a regional power and arms exporter is now on the verge of beggary. Without the power to even defend themselves. Depleted and finished for a generation or more. Not unlike WW1 where Russian military failures brought about economic failures which brought about social upheaval. That brings about change.

The Soviet Union fell from its high station as a superpower that became a regional power that became a plutocracy. And through hubris the Russians thought that they were much more than they were. They bit off more than they could chew. In an effort to rebuild the Soviet Union, they rebuilt Czarist Russia. A starving army without equipment or ammunition.

Come the Spring, the Russian Army will have their hands full. In Moscow, they have their hands full now. An Army is much more than men with guns.

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win” ― Sun Tzu,

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