Tags: crimea | donbas | putin

Rice: 'Failure to Imagine' in Russia-Ukraine War Costly

stalemate russia ukraine

(Adam Radosavljevic/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Thursday, 19 January 2023 01:35 PM EST

The United States experienced a devastating attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

Simultaneous strikes took place in New York City and Washington D.C. at the Pentagon. Flight 93 was brought donw by the 9/11 terrorists, in a rural field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. 

The 9/11 Commission was established to investigate the events.

That body later determined that a "failure to imagine" was a significant contributor to the surprise nature of the attack.

A small group of individuals was able to carry out what amounted to massive devastation on America — by weaponizing airliners, a combination of events, in one day that forever changed the world.

"Imagination is not a gift usually associated with bureaucracies," one of the most impactful lines of their report said.

This belied the root problem: we never "imagined" it, so we couldn’t defend against it.

As we reflect on the year of the largest war in Europe since World War II, Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has been the prominent news topic.

Once again, our bureaucracies have failed to anticipate a situation.

In 2018, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Joseph Dunford, identified both China and Russia as "peer adversaries," rather than enemies.

This highlights that no one expected the current state of global affairs and that it's difficult to predict future events.

National security experts are still trying to understand how we arrived at this point, which is the result of decisions made by leaders in Russia, Ukraine, and western democracies — in the past year.

It's surprising to consider that just a few years ago, Russia was considered a "peer competitor" of the United States, meaning that if the two countries were to go to war, the outcome could go either way.

The logic was that if Russia was a match for the U.S., the much smaller Ukrainian military would fall within a week.

However, it turns out that Russia is not as powerful as previously thought and is more like a "paper tiger."

While the situation in Ukraine is tragic and significant, from a military perspective, it's worth noting that Russia has deployed all its available resources including its Army, Navy, Air Force, strategic bombers, and cruise missiles.

Russia has also lost many of its best units, wile expending the majority its best munitions.

This war is a total war for Russia; short of a nuclear one. 

It's interesting to note the weapons and ammo that the West had provided to Ukraine.

But it is even more interesting to note what the West has not provided.

Most of the primary weapons' platforms that we imagined would be the backbone of any large-scale war with Russia — are not in the fight.

The American military, and NATO, have developed an air-land doctrine over many decades to fight against Russia with various weapons systems.

Currently, none the U.S. armed forces: inclusive of the Marines, Air Force, or Navy has boots on the ground.

The U.S. Air Force, known for its lethal force and powerful firepower, is not participating in the conflict. Most of its lethal weapons are not.

Similarly, the U.S. Navy, also known for its lethal force and powerful firepower, is not engaged in the fight and most of its most lethal weapons are not.

The U.S. Army is providing support, but not engaging in the fight and not providing its most advanced weaponry.

When the U.S. Army prepared for a potential battle on the European plains, they had planned to use several weapons systems to defend against Russian aggression.

They had expected to deploy AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and A-10 Warthog tank killers in the air, as well as advanced fighters such as the F-22 and F-35 with Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) missiles.

On the ground, they had planned to use M1 Abrams tanks and M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, along with artillery that would fire Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICM) and long-range rockets: Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMs).

Naval forces would include all types of weapons platforms from carriers, cruisers and submarines that would sink the Russian Black Sea fleet in a day.

However, none of these systems are in the fight.

The situation in Ukraine is a tragedy for its people and should not be overlooked, nor minimized. Most certainly, it should never be forgotten.

It's surprising and inspiring to see the Ukrainian military, which was and is under-funded and under-armed, perform so well against what was a "peer competitor" of the U.S.; doing so without using the weapons systems that have been the foundation of our defenses for decades.

On the other hand, the pathetically poor performance of the Russian military and horrible leadership are also shocking.

A smaller, more determined army has been able to defeat the Russian military in just one year. In response, the UK has recently decided to send tanks (Challengers) and attack helicopters (Apaches) but these have not arrived on the battlefield.

However, the elephant in the room is that Russia has 6,000 nuclear weapons.

The use of even one could change the world.

Due to concerns about conventional escalation outside of Ukraine’s borders, or nuclear escalation, the global community initially sent only 126 artillery pieces to fight against Russia's 3,000 artillery pieces, but it hesitated to send multiple launch rocket systems, eventually sending initially only four for a 1,200-mile front line, slowly increasing the total rocket systems to around 26 (M142 and M270s).

Were it not for Russia’s nuclear arsenal, the West would have sunk the Black Sea fleet and destroyed Russia’s army long ago.

It's entirely due to the nuclear arsenal, that the West is being held hostage from sending in the necessary conventional weapons, thereby allowing Ukraine to win.

Imagining that Russia would attack the rest of Ukraine, after taking the Donbas and Crimea in 2014, should not have been a giant leap.

Due to the lack of imagination in anticipating this type of proxy war between the West and Russia, the response has been escalating too gradually at the cost of lives in Ukraine.

Like a frog in boiling water, the West has increased aid to Ukraine slowly, prolonging the suffering and losses of Ukraine's people — ongoing for close to one year.

The West reasoning to provide limited aid, mainly to avoid angering Russia, which can be seen as a form of appeasement.

Instead, the West needs to clearly identify the problem and determine what Ukraine needs to win the war.

It's not enough to provide 50 Bradley Fighting Vehicles without tanks, Ukraine needs a significant number of fighting vehicles, tanks and Howitzers, a far higher number (more likely) is 500 Fighting Vehicles and 300 main battle tanks and 600 Howitzers.

While it's unlikely that Vladimir Putin would use nuclear weapons in response to losing the war, as it would lead to the end of his regime, it's important (urgent) to plan for all possibilities.

But to have Ukraine win the war, it's more effective to plan backwards by identifying the necessary resources to win the war, then rapidly proceed accordingly.

The delay in ending the suffering in Ukraine is due to the failure of the West to anticipate this type of proxy war with Russia.

Therefore, it's important to clearly identify the problem, evaluate potential solutions, and choose the one that will bring the war to a swift conclusion.

The priority should be to provide Ukraine with the overwhelming resources they need to win the war, immediately, not just to keep the conflict at a stalemate status.

(Editor's note: A related story by the author may be found here.)

Dan Rice, is special adviser to Ukraine commander in chief armed forces, and president of Thayer Leadership at West Point.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

To have Ukraine win the war, it's more effective to plan backwards by identifying the necessary resources to win the war, then rapidly proceed accordingly. The delay in ending the suffering in Ukraine is due to the failure of the West to anticipate this type of proxy war.
crimea, donbas, putin
Thursday, 19 January 2023 01:35 PM
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