Here is another article of delusional hopium courtesy of the folks at War on the Rocks. HOLD, BUILD, AND STRIKE: A VISION FOR REBUILDING UKRAINE’S ADVANTAGE IN 2024 by Michael Kofman, Rob Lee and Dara Massicot is a well-written exercise in fantasy. They start off with a moment of clarity:
This winter, Ukraine’s military is visibly running on fumes, as recent reporting shows M109 Paladin artillery outside Bakhmut receiving only smoke shells for ammunition. When we were last there in November, shell hunger was widespread along the front, and the situation has only gotten worse.
But after that bit of reality, they veer off into the world of magical thinking:
However, with tailored Western support, Ukraine could hold against Russian forces this year and rebuild the necessary advantage to conduct large-scale offensive operations in 2025, recreating another opportunity to deal Russia a battlefield defeat. . . .
Territorial control is one measure of progress toward one’s objectives, but the balance of attrition, capacity for reconstitution, defense industrial mobilization, and the ability to employ force effectively at scale are more important determinants of long-term success. . . .
If this year is used wisely, core problems are addressed, and the right lessons are applied from the 2023 offensive, Ukraine can take another shot at inflicting a major defeat on Russian forces. However, this demands a new strategy, premised on three central elements: hold, build, and strike. Holding will require a well-prepared defense, consolidating, and rationalizing the Ukrainian armed forces’ diverse park of equipment. Building focuses on reconstituting force quality, training, and expanding defense industrial capacity. Finally, the strike element will degrade Russian advantages and create challenges for Russian forces far behind the front lines, as Ukraine works on rebuilding its capacity to resume offensive operations. Ideally, Ukraine can absorb Russian offensives while minimizing casualties and position itself to retake the advantage over time.
What planet are these three living on? Starting in mid-December 2023, Russia has unleashed a devastating barrage of missile and rocket attacks on Ukraine’s military-industrial plants, munition storage facilities, and infrastructure. I can excuse Michael Kofman and Dara Massicot’s ignorance — neither has experience with actual military operations and are quintessential analysts from the ivory castle of political science — but how can Rob Lee, a former Marine infantry officer, sign on to something so imbecilic? They claim to be Russian experts but reveal a profound ignorance about Russia’s military and economic capability.
I will make this real simple. Ukraine does not have the ability to implement the War on the Rocks prescription. First, manpower. Even Ukrainian sources are conceding that Ukraine has suffered more than a million casualties. The average age of the frontline troops is 43. For the math challenged out there (this clearly applies to Kofman, Lee and Massicot), if the average age is 43 that means you have a large number of 50 and 60 year old cannon fodder manning the trenches and bunkers. The under 40 crowd is not flocking to the recruiting office in Kiev to sign up. Just the opposite. They are going to extreme lengths to avoid being dragooned into the army. We’ve seen guys wearing disguises that make them look like 70 year old men and others dressing as women. Not because they are transgender but because the Ukrainian recruiters are not grabbing women off the street and throwing them on to the military bus.
Let’s assume that Ukraine can somehow find an additional 500,000 potential soldiers. (They will need at least that many to keep up with Russia who added that number to their armed forces in 2023 and continue to sign up new recruits at the rate of more than 40,000 a month.) Where are they going to train? Russia’s missile strikes during the past month have hit some major troop locations. For example, the strike in Kharkiv last week wiped out a 200 man contingent of foreign mercenaries. Russia can and will hit every training center in Ukraine, which means the new Ukie recruits will have to be sent to bases in Europe.
We have clear evidence based on the Ukrainian failure in the 2023 counter-offensive of how inadequate that training was. And the training I am talking about is Basic Training. Decent Basic Training takes 13 weeks. Do the math — even if Ukraine can marshall 20,000 new recruits a month and run them through Basic Training, Ukraine would only have 160,000 troops trained in rudimentary skills by the end of the year. Ukraine failed to do that during 2023. What miracle drug will they be taking that allows them to train three to four times the number of troops they assembled for the failed counter offensive?
The vast majority of the Ukrainian troops sent to attack the Surovikin lines of defense did not receive Advanced Individual Training nor did they participate in large unit exercises. Knowing how to shoot, clean and maintain a fire arm in combat conditions is a good thing. But that does not automatically translate into how to conduct an assault on heavily defended positions. And don’t tell me the Brits and Germans can handle that training task. Hell, the U.K. cannot even meet its own recruitment needs. The Brits are a puny, inexperienced force lacking in knowledge of how to carry out a combined forces attack against the Russians. Ditto for the Germans. The Wehrmacht is kaput.
The War on the Rocks clown show pays lip service to Ukraine’s need for air defense, artillery, artillery rounds, tanks and armored vehicles, but ignores the real world. No country in the West has the ability to produce these items and send them to Ukraine in the quantities required to sustain a force in the field for the foreseeable future. The authors are particularly lost in La La Land when they talk about Ukraine being able to launch long-range missiles to hit critical infrastructure in Russia. There is no other country in the world with an air defense system like Russia’s. Moreover, if such attacks are launched Russia has the ability to launch successful counter strikes to eliminate those threats.
Where the hell is the West going to come up with a thousand tanks and armored personnel carriers? There are no factories in the West churning these out. To the contrary, the West is struggling to produce 155 mm shells. All of the War on the Rocks “analysis” rests on the assumption that the West’s only concern is Ukraine. That dog won’t hunt anymore. Israel, Yemen, Iran and China are becoming greater priorities than Ukraine.
Finally, let’s assume that Ukraine is able to muster a new army of cannon fodder to attack Russia’s heavily defended lines? Where is the Ukrainian air power? It does not exist and will not exist. If the United States is able to deploy a few F-16s to Ukraine, they will meet the same fate that Ukraine’s now non-existent air force met. They will be shot down.
Let me leave you with this. It is a report from the front lines by Russia’s pre-eminent war correspondent, Marat Khayrullin. Here is the current reality:
Krynki, if anyone doesn’t remember, it was such a conditional bridgehead (it still exists) on our bank of the Dnieper, which the Ukrainians tried to sell to the West as another success. And it was this PR campaign that became symbolic, because for the first time, without even having time to properly swing, it failed due to obvious senselessness. And the Ukrainians themselves and, most importantly, their Western allies themselves saw the futility of Krynoki as a military operation.
The story with the Krynki was so stupid and wretched that it could not be sold even to the Ukrainian society, which believes, as experience shows, any fairy tales about victory over the Russian Federation.
And today we are seeing how this Krynok syndrome is beginning to spread across the entire front. What does this mean?
Today it is already obvious that the initiative has completely passed to our troops. But, nevertheless, the dill continue to desperately resist. Going completely on the defensive. And the most pressing question now is how long the dill will be able to hold the front line.
Here it is interesting to remember the recent words of the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine: they say we will prepare a certain Zaluzhny line, 10-15 kilometers deep in defense, and calmly withdraw there. And here we need to understand two points. Firstly, on the existing line of contact, the dill have already created an unprecedented complex of protective structures. I have already given an example that in the summer only in the zone of responsibility of my native Slavyanka near Avdeevka, about 6 kilometers wide and up to 10 km deep, dill dug more than 600 different types of fortifications. From oporniks to pillboxes, bunkers, underground bunkers, etc., using any advantages on the ground.
They created something similar along almost the entire front line. This, by the way, partly explains that the war is not going so quickly.
To successfully overcome such a line of fortifications, it is necessary to significantly increase the capabilities of our army. This is what we are doing now.
And the second point: by and large, our troops can overcome such fortifications anywhere, it’s just a matter of losses.
Here it is appropriate to recall the years of the Great Patriotic War – for the complete liberation of Ukraine it took 15 military operations, and the total losses of Soviet troops amounted to several million people. During the Donbass operation alone (August 13-September 22, 1943), our troops lost about 270 thousand soldiers, despite the fact that the total number of the group was just over one million. That is, almost every third.
Today we cannot afford such losses. So you have to pick ukrov out of every hole. Especially considering that the Ukrainian command behaves completely inhumanely – not counting its soldiers, who are simply openly sent to their deaths. And their obvious tactic is precisely to inflict on us the most significant losses possible, not counting their soldiers. Because then, according to the theory of the Western masters of Ukraine, this will provoke unrest in Russia, and the people will demand the end of the Northern Military District without achieving the main goals. This will be considered a victory for the West. I repeat, no one cares how many Ukrainians will have to be killed. And the fact that our command is not accepting these giveaways is very disappointing to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the collective West as a whole.
Therefore, we will all have to be patient and wait for so many of the enemy’s reserves to be processed so that he is no longer able to cover certain sectors of the front.
Speaking figuratively, today the entire front line is turning more and more into conditional Krynki. The Ukrainians are stupidly sitting in their holes and trying to somehow survive. And we continue to destroy them with greater and greater intensity.
There is no point in eliminating this conditional bridgehead at the cost of the lives of our fighters – the enemy is already doomed. It’s much wiser to just wait. Moreover, we have nowhere to rush – assistance to the enemy from the West is drying up, human reserves are running out. And most importantly, the collective enemy is increasingly realizing the futility of resistance.
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