WORDS: 897 — The media has had their parade of retired generals and admirals and think-tank strategists for nearly a couple months now providing their insights at the conduct of the war, with of course the acknowledgment of the tenacity of the Ukrainian defenders in being critical in fending off the Russians. Given I am completely not qualified as a credible military strategist given my military service didn’t include War College or Pentagon service or having served as Supreme Commander of any theater of operations, I am offering some armchair input regarding just that.
Three weeks ago I was watching the news regarding the war and the events continuing to unfold in besieged Mariupol and I turned to my Better Half (given she’s the only one to tolerate my ramblings) and I mentioned that Ukraine has from the beginning been fighting a defensive war. Oh sure, there’s been some assertive regional defensive strikes to push occupying Russians out of towns and villages and essentially keep the Russians from gaining too much critical real estate. But there’s really been no organized offensive. Now, I mention this not to critique anything. It was simply an observation. Watching the rockets falling on Mariupol, like most folks who have some level of history knowledge, I uttered to my lady that “these folks need a Gen. Patton-type offensive in a focused thrust into the Russian position to relieve the beleaguered defenders of Bastogne.. ‘er, I mean Mariupol”. I mean, let’s face it, most everyone is comparing this war against World War II-style of fighting and strategy. I’m wondering where the parachute drops of ammunition and supplies are landing to aid their fighting. In fact, I am hoping no one sends the parachute cannisters loaded with worthless berets like in the film “A Bridge Too Far” (1977).
Well, of course the similarities to WW2 aside, the Ukraine war is far different. The Ukrainians don’t have dominance of the skies so air drops are pretty much out of the question… not to mention the logistics alone to organize such drops would be difficult to impossible due to irregular and vulnerable supply lines and airfields subject to missile attack. It’s been reported for weeks now that there are inherent delays in the distribution channels in country when the Ukrainians take charge of all that military aid at the western border. I would easily guess that such delays would all but make impossible organizing an offensive great enough to actually be effective. It’s not in the least about the Ukrainians not being willing… for surely they would if they could. The great effectiveness with the Allied effort in WW2 is that the Allies were comparable geniuses in creating distribution channels and logistical support. The Ukrainians have had a full plate simply defending, and to their great determination and credit they have kicked Russian ass well. But at some point the Ukrainian military, by my armchair assessment, is going to need to organize an offensive… very likely to include air strikes (planes and/or missiles) inside Russia, along border supply routes and installations, if for nothing else but to cause chaos and confusion (Exactly what MacArthur wanted to do in 1950-51 when he urged bombing into China across the Yalu River to strike at the Chinese supply lines supporting the North Korean Communists. China threatened entering the war, MacArthur didn’t believe the threats.. and Truman canned him.). Knowing history helps.
Recently I read a media article on CNN of an interview between CNN’s Peter Bergen and former commander of the US Special Operations Command in Europe, retired US Army Maj. Gen. Mike Repass. Never heard of this general… but he does come with some credentials and experience from being in that theater of operations. As Bergen reports….
Repass has advised the Ukrainian military for the past six years on a US government contract. Last month he visited Poland and western Ukraine to get a better feel for the trajectory of the war in Ukraine.
As it turned out, Gen. Repass’ general observations regarding Ukraine’s defensive posture to date were similar to mine… (or is that mine to his?) although he commands way more experience in means and methods and field warfare than I could even imagine. The General is suggesting the building up of a force of 40,000 Ukrainians to be trained by the allied countries as an offensive strike force. If you have any interest in the strategy of this war I recommend this article as it seems a really effective progression toward a possible Ukrainian victory. That means my armchair perception finds his strategy valid. Obviously any political ramification has not been addressed, but he’s a soldier offering up a winning strategy. I particularly find valid his take on a possible Chinese perception shift toward invading Taiwan.
BERGEN: Starting a war, that’s often the easy part. Wars have their own logic. Unfortunately, this war might go on for a year or even two years.
REPASS: I fear that you’re right. This will be a grinding, agonizing war if it lasts more than a year, and I think it’s going to last at least two years. But we can’t let it get into a stalemate. If it gets into a stalemate, Putin’s going to claim success followed by a brutal occupation of the Ukrainian territory that he controls.
I think he’s right. My armchair even thinks he’s right. The article is <HERE> .