Unless you are a student of the history of World War II, you probably do not appreciate the role that DECEPTION operations played in pinning down German forces and the relevance of such operations to what is going on in Ukraine.
Allied commanders trying to figure out how to invade France with the greatest chance of success relied on two major deception operations–Bodyguard and Fortitude. Bodyguard came into existence in early 1943 after Eisenhower and the Brits agreed that the invasion of Europe would happen in northern France. Bodyguard was:
designed to make the Germans believe the invasion might come in Greece, on the Adriatic coast of Yugoslavia, in the south of France, on the Biscay Bay coast of France, through the Low Countries, or via Norway and Denmark.
Accordingly, with British intel in the lead, intel was fed to the Germans that made them believe the allies were planning attacks in those regions. In response, the Germans reinforced their garrisons in those regions. One of those troop re-deployments moved German soldiers from the Russian front, which provided some tangible relief to the Soviet forces who were fighting the bulk of the German Army. The other key effect was that it froze the German forces in a location far away from the true target–northern France.
As 1943 came to an end and the build up of U.S., Canadian and British forces in the United Kingdom became obvious, the Brits came up with operation FORTITUDE.
Allied intelligence services came in, principally the British. They developed a plan called Fortitude by which; they would create two phantom army commands—one in Scotland to threaten an invasion of Norway, and the other in East Anglia and southeast England to threaten the Pas de Calais. The latter operation, known as Quicksilver, would establish an imaginary army group designated the First US Army Group (FUSAG). The commander of this ghost army had to be a general renowned enough to make the operation seem thoroughly credible to the Germans—a real blood and guts general. Lieutenant General George S. Patton
Quicksilver was accomplished with inflatable tanks and artillery pieces and a flood of military communications going back and forth between non-existent army units. With the help of a double agent with the code name GARBO:
Garbo, a Catalan named Juan Pujol, had begun his spying career as an amateur, deceiving the Germans with false intelligence he cooked up himself. The British found out about him and brought him from Spain to England, where he went to work for the Double Cross Committee. Garbo gave the Germans the impression that he had gotten a job high up in the British government and was the spymaster of a network of 14 agents placed throughout the Allied high command and British government. He sent frequent and detailed reports on the growth and intentions of FUSAG. Those reports fooled the highest echelons of command—up to and including Hitler.
Okay. So what does this have to do with the Russian military operation in Ukraine? The United States and NATO intelligence services have been quite confused about the specific intentions of Russia’s military plan and have failed to accurately predict Russia’s moves. Early on, as Russian forces were approaching Kiev from the north, government sources were telling the media that Russia appeared intent on capturing Kiev. A significant portion of Ukrainian military forces deployed in the outlying suburbs prepared to battle the Russians to the death. And Russia made steady progress moving into positions to the east and west of Kiev.
Yes, the Russians suffered losses but we saw some very odd things. Remember the 40 mile column of Russian tanks and mobile artillery that sat in place for several days to the north of Kiev. The Ukrainians failed to attack that fat target because the Russians had castrated Ukrainian air power and artillery. And then, without suffering a major defeat on the battlefield around Kiev, the Russians started withdrawing.
In the lead up to this withdrawal, U.S. and NATO military commanders puzzled over why Russia only deployed a small portion of the force it had positioned on its western border. In addition, Russia held back its most sophisticated tanks and mobile artillery. Why?
Well, looks like Russia was feeding the western allies a big load of bullshit. Remember the breathless media reports that Putin was being deceived by his inner circle?
Russian President Vladimir Putin is being misled by advisers and doesn’t know how badly his own war is going, a US defense official said on Wednesday.
The struggling strongman is being lied to by his inner circle about everything from military losses to the economy, an unnamed US official said, citing recently declassified intelligence.
US intelligence suggests that Putin was unaware of the extent to which his army was relying on — and losing — conscripted soldiers, the official told The Associated Press. The Russian leader has also been given an unrealistically rosy assessment of Russian markets as his advisers downplay the effect of Western sanctions on their economy.
That tidbit of “intel” collected in Russia somehow apparently convinced senior American and NATO military leaders that Putin was on the ropes and was painted into a corner. Yet what happened? Russia moved into Mariupol and began the destruction of Ukraine’s southern army acting on orders to hold that port city at any price. Seven weeks later that Ukrainian force is eviscerated.
The Russian re-deployment to the Donbas went off without a major hitch. We have seen zero video evidence of Ukrainian forces attacking and destroying columns of Russian tanks, mobile artillery and trucks pouring into the region. But we are now seeing evidence of Ukrainian entrenched positions in the Donbas suffering relentless bombardments from the ground and the air.
While Russia has been moving its forces around various parts of Ukraine without much opposition, it has enjoyed supremacy in the air. It has continued to hit and destory,key Ukrainian military facilities, weapons storage depots and fuel storage sites with missiles, both sea launched and air launched.
On the economic front, the Russian ruble has stabilized and has not been damaged by western sanctions. It is as strong today as it was prior to the invasion. It is the west that is scrambling to figure out how to replace key Russian exports such as fertilizer, oil, natural gas, nickel and palladium.
In light of the events that have transpired in Ukraine since that “intel” was leaked to the western media about alleged chaos in Putin’s inner circle, it may be time to consider that Russia has pulled off a minor variation of Operation Quicksilver. As Russian forces withdrew from Kiev the Ukrainian commanders, in tandem with their NATO advisors, did not launch an offensive against the “retreating” Russians nor did they start moving large numbers of their soldiers to the east to bolster the defenses of the Ukrainian army dug in throughout the western edge of the Donbas. Why? This will be grist for future theses of War College students on the effectiveness of deception in war.