As Vladimir Putin embarks on his plan B – a massive military operation to try to seize at least a small part of eastern Ukraine to justify his knee-jerk war – I thought: Who can give him the best advice now? I settled on one of America’s principal teachers of grand strategy, John Arquilla, who recently retired as Distinguished Professor of Defense Analysis at the US Naval Postgraduate School. When I called Arquilla and asked what he would say to Putin today, he didn’t hesitate: “I was going to say, ‘Make peace, you idiot’.”
This is also known as the first rule of digging: When you’re in one place, stop digging.
Archela did not pick up his phrase out of thin air. After the D-Day landing in Normandy on June 6, 1944, it soon became apparent that the Germans could not contain the Allied bridgehead. So, after a failed German counter-offensive near Caen on 1 July, the German commander in chief on that front, Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, called Berlin to inform Army Chief of Staff Wilhelm Keitel, who then asked him, “What shall we do?” – which Von Rundstedt answered her: “Make peace, you fools! What else can you do?”
The next day, von Rundstedt – unlike what Putin had just done, bringing in a new great general, who helped crush the opposition movement in Syria with unrestrained brutality – was removed to run the second phase of his war. This didn’t work out for the Germans, and without making any predictions, Arquilla explained why he believed Putin’s army, too, could face stiff resistance from under-equipped Ukrainians in this new phase.
It begins with everything new in this Ukrainian-Russian war, he said: “In many ways, this war is the Spanish Civil War of our time. In that war, many weapons – such as Stuka dive bombers and Panzer tanks – were tested by the Germans, learned The Allies were also before World War II. The same is happening in Ukraine when it comes to the next generation of wars.”
Arquilla recently published a book on Next Generation Warfare, “Bitskrieg: The New Challenge of Electronic Warfare.”
“In that book, I outlined the three new rules of war, which I see are all used by the Ukrainians,” he explained. “The first is that Beats are many, small, big and heavy. The Ukrainians operate in squad-level units armed with smart weapons, capable of disabling much larger formations, attacking slow-moving, noisy helicopters and the like. So, although the Russians are outnumbered, the Ukrainians have many, many units of work – usually eight to ten soldiers. ”
These small Ukrainian units, armed with intelligent, precision-guided weapons such as killer drones, anti-aircraft weapons and light anti-tank weapons, “could eliminate the largest and most well-armed Russian tank units,” Arquilla said.
He said that the second rule of modern warfare in Ukraine, “is this You always find accompaniment beats. If you can locate the enemy first, you can take them out. Especially if the enemy is made up of a few large units, like a 40-mile-long convoy of tanks and armored personnel carriers, you will drive them out of hell with your small squads, without having to encircle them with equal force.”
I asked Arquilla why Ukrainians are so good at research. (I suppose they are receiving some reconnaissance assistance from NATO.)
“Ukrainians are making very good use of small drones, especially those Turkish drones, which are massive in size,” Arquilla said. But it is human sensors – the unofficial Ukrainian corps of observers – that are destroying the Russians. Grandmothers with iPhones can outperform satellites.
“The Ukrainian Observer Corps consists of Babushkas children, children and anyone else who has a smartphone,” he said. And they communicated with the locations where the Russian units were and where they were moving. So the Ukrainian forces have this huge advantage in finding the Russians in this big country, and this gives their small units with smart weapons “real-time and actionable intelligence.”
Arquilla said that the third rule of the new age war going on in Ukraine is that “Always swarming high beats.He explained: “War is not just a numbers game anymore. You don’t need large numbers to provide the opponent with a lot of small smart weapons. I am sure you have seen some videos of these Russian tanks and columns, where suddenly one tank is taken out in the front and then another in the back So the Russians can’t maneuver, and then they get picked.”
Since this is the next stage of the war and the Russians are not stupid, they will surely adapt in the second stage, right?
Arquilla argued that the Russians would continue to use some heavy bombing, “and would be less reticent about doing so in eastern Ukraine than they were in its western lands. But the rubble makes conquest more difficult. I mention Stalingrad.” Stalingrad, Russia, was bombed by the Nazis in the Stone Age in World War II, but then had to try to move through the ruins in small units to secure it and couldn’t.
So look for the Russians to adjust some tactics. “The Russians have shown an ability to learn and adapt,” Arquilla said. “In the first winter war against the Finns – from 1939 to 1940 – the same thing happened to the Russians when they first invaded Finland. They were hit by the Finns using these small division tactics. Then the Russians retreated, reorganized themselves, and then came back in a smarter way, And in the end they overpowered the opponent. My understanding is that the Russians have already activated more of their Marine units, which are used to working in smaller teams.” So expect them to be heavier in infantry and less heavy in tanks in the next phase.
However, he added, the Ukrainians should have the advantage in terms of the discovery problem, and they are already accustomed to working in these very small units. Russians are more centralized. One of the reasons so many generals have been killed is that at the tactical level, they don’t have people with the ability to make those quick decisions in a gunfight. Only general officers could, so they had to go down near the front and do things that lieutenants and sergeants in the U.S. Army routinely do.”
In short, Arquilla said, “I am not saying that the Russians will be expelled from eastern Ukraine. I am trying to answer the question: Why have the Ukrainians done so well? And that is because they have applied all these new rules of modern warfare.”
And since they will surely continue to do so, it portends a new, long, terrible, mutually devastating round in which neither side is likely to be able to deliver a fatal blow. Then who knows?
I still hope that the idiot Putin will eventually seek a face-saving dirty deal, involving a Russian withdrawal, some sort of independent status for the more pro-Russian eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and no Ukrainian membership in NATO but give Ukraine a green option. The light of EU accession with security guarantees against another Russian invasion.
It may happen soon.