Scott Ritter created a bit of a stir over the weekend with a comment suggesting the Russians have fumbled the ball and set themselves up for Stalingrad like victory (i.e., a long and bloody struggle). I think Scott is wicked smart and we played golf together–he treated me and another who shall remain nameless at the Army Navy Club course in Virginia a few years ago. I disagree with this bit of Scott’s analysis. My other respected friend, the old squid Andrei Martyanov, also likes Scott and offers a counterpoint:
Or, what could be termed as “what Scott missed.” I still deeply respect Scott’s position and his courage but my disagreement with his recent statement on SMO is of a purely technical nature. Let me explain. Here is a simple operational truism since 1980s: if I see you (target), I will destroy you. And here is where Scott might have missed some points, which I make all the time for years and which explain why his assertion that some US “technology” and money (most of them will be stolen and laundered inside the US) have very little impact, if any on SMO. Here is this fact: there are ONLY two countries which have a state-of-the-art ISR complex, from satellites in space to massive optronic and signal intel. Right, these are US and Russia.
For American person, especially the one who remembered Russia in 1990s it is sometimes inconceivable to grasp a simple fact that Russia has in many respects a real time situational awareness of not only of the whole battlefield but the whole theater. As recent VSU “counter-attack” in Zaporozhie has shown or, as today released video, Russians know exactly where those much-touted, in reality making no difference whatsoever, US M-777 howitzers are, what they are up to and Russians blow them apart (in Russian). These are just two examples out of very many of SMO being largely not only situationally but tactically aware. All this because Russia was into the game of cutting edge recon and intel much earlier than the US. Recall this? Modern Russian ISR is cutting edge and I spoke at length on the issues of such things as legacy MKRTz Legenda or newest Liana, but those two are just a few tools in the vast arsenal of Russian recon and targeting complex–NO other nation with the exception of the US has anything comparable.
Please take time to read the rest of Andrei’s analysis.
Just because the Russians are pulling punches to avoid killing civilians and destroying infrastructure key for civilian survival does not mean they are ignoring the threat. For example, Andrei notes that the Russians waited for the towed howitzers to get into position before blowing them up.
I really am shocked that Scott got this so wrong. First, the US and NATO are not sending the most advanced, most sophisticated equipment to Ukraine. The M-777 howitzer, for example, is a good piece of towed artillery (it came into service in 2005). There is the problem–it requires a vehicle to tow it into position. When it is fired it must be towed to a new location to minimize the risk of counter battery fire. America and NATO have more advanced howitzers that are self-propelled. They are not sending those to Ukraine.
The equipment sent to Ukraine is basically surplus that the United States and NATO are not using. I believe in following the money. I think this is just a convenient pretext to get rid of old weapons systems in order to justify new spending on the latest, greatest.
Second, Russia has made and continues to make missile strikes on bases and weapons depots. It is not an occasional strike, it is repeated and regular. Remember Yavoriv?
The Yavoriv military base attack was an attack on the Yavoriv military base that occurred on 13 March 2022 as part of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. The base is located near the city of Yavoriv, Lviv Oblast. According to Ukrainian officials, the military facility was hit by 30 Russian missiles, killing 35 soldiers and injuring 134 others.
This was not a one off attack. The Russians have struck all across Ukraine. I noted in my last piece that Desna, a Ukrainian base, was one of the latest targets. The Russians also hit Lviv, Vinnitsa and Sumy. There is no sign the Russians are running out of missiles, rockets and artillery rounds.
Third, who the hell is going to operate the stuff the west is sending? We are not seeing hordes of Ukrainian young men lining up to join the national defense. Instead, Ukrainian authorities are rounding up middle aged guys forcing them into the army. Many of these “new” recruits are on video complaining that they are nothing more than cattle fodder. Then there is the training component. Teaching a soldier how to operate and maintain a new weapon system is not a one day affair. This further complicates Ukraine’s ability to stay in the fight.