Saddam had Baghdad Bob. He was damn entertaining as he spilled his nightly delusions trying to convince the West that the Iraqi Army was keeping American troops at bay back in March 2003. Well, as the saying goes in Poker, I’ll see your Baghdad Bob and raise you a Fred Kagan.
Fred Kagan, spouse of the corpulent Victoria Nuland, is a “scholar” at the American Enterprise Institute and part of the Institute for the Study of War is out with an article that is worthy of a free ticket on the crazy train — How the Ukraine Counteroffensive Can Still Succeed. Here are some of the low points:
But the Ukrainian counteroffensive can succeed in any of several ways. First, the current Ukrainian mechanized breakthrough could succeed, and the Ukrainians could exploit it deeply enough to unhinge part or all of the Russian lines. Second, Russian forces, already suffering serious morale and other systemic problems, could break under the pressure and begin to withdraw in a controlled or uncontrolled fashion. Third, a steady pressure and interdiction campaign supported by major efforts such as the one now underway can generate gaps in the Russian lines that Ukrainian forces can exploit at first locally, but then for deeper penetrations. The first and second possibilities are relatively unlikely but possible.
The third is the most probable path to Ukrainian success. It will be slower and more gradual than the other two—and slower than Ukraine’s Western backers desire and expect. It depends on the West providing Ukraine with a constant flow of equipment likely over many months so that Ukraine can maintain its pressure until the Russian forces offer the kinds of frontline cracks the Ukrainians can exploit. It is not primarily a matter of attrition. The slow pace of the pressure campaign Ukraine had been using before July 26 is designed to minimize Ukrainian losses. It is not primarily oriented towards attriting Russians either, but rather towards steadily forcing the Russians out of their prepared defensive positions in ways that the Ukrainians can take advantage of to make operationally significant advances. It is still maneuver warfare rather than attritional warfare, just at a slower pace. It therefore requires patience, but it can succeed.. . .
Hey Fred, no it cannot. Chubby academics with no military experience should not write stupid stuff like this. As long as Ukraine does not have a size-able force of combat air, mobile air defense and mobile artillery, it lacks the offensive power to penetrate the grey zone outside the first of the Surovikin defensive lines.
Let’s indulge Fred’s fantasy and assume a Ukrainian force of 10,000 men (two brigades) breach the first line of Russian defenses. This creates a salient, i.e. a bulge. At that point Russia can (and will) launch attacks on both flanks of the Ukrainian advance. What does Ukraine have in its arsenal to thwart a Russian counter attack? The answer is simple — NOTHING.
But that is not how Fred sees things in his rich fantasy world. He insists that the Russian army is weak and running out of ammunition and manpower reserves. Of course, he has no evidence to support this. He is like Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz clicking his ruby slippers together and repeating the mantra, “there is not a Russian army.” But no amount of wishful thinking can change the fact that Russia’s defense industry is churning out tanks, planes, artillery, ammunition and drones at an increasing level.
What astonishes me is Kagan’s complete disregard for the losses the Ukrainians are suffering. Even if the United States and NATO can continue to send tanks, artillery and ammunition to its beleaguered ally in Kiev, the number of trained Ukrainian personnel capable of operating these weapon systems effectively is diminishing rapidly, not increasing. Even if Ukraine manages to squeeze out one tactical victory, it does not have the resources in manpower and equipment to sustain that success. Ukraine’s army is in an irretrievable death spiral. Its fate is determine. It is just a matter of time.
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