U.S. Special Operations Forces are a talisman–i.e., “A talisman is any object ascribed with religious or magical powers intended to protect, heal, or harm individuals for whom they are made”– in the minds of the U.S. policymakers and the civilian population. It is an image that has been seeded into the subconcious of the public thanks to Hollywood over the last forty years. Consider the following–The Delta Force, Navy Seals, Black Hawk Down, Six (TV series), 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Lone Survivor and Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden. All of these films peel back the curtain of secrecy and take the viewer behind the scenes to experience vicariously the mystery and “power” of the Special Operations forces. Sometimes they win and sometimes they lose.
I have had the privilege of working closely with the Special Operations community during almost a quarter of a century. I greatly admire the skill and capabilities of these men. (Yes, this is a testosterone community of Type A personalities who have levels of strength and endurance not commonly found in the ranks of the military–there are some women, in specialized jobs, but this is a Dude’s world.) But they are not superhuman. They are men. They have proven abilities to endure enormous physical stress while remaining operationally proficient. But they cannot outrun bullets and are just as vulnerable to bombs and mortars as your average private.
The experience of the SEALS on the island of Grenada in 1983 highlights their capabilities and limitations:
Another SEAL Team’s missions included the extraction of Grenada’s Governor-General and the capture of Grenada’s only radio tower. Neither mission was well briefed nor sufficiently supported with timely intelligence; causing the SEALs trouble from the very beginning. Delays in an airborne insertion caused their daytime calm-sea insertion to be pushed back to night time and a bad storm. One of their two transport planes missed its drop zone, and four SEALs were lost in a rain squall off the island’s coast. Their bodies were never recovered.
During the invasion, the SEALs split into two groups and proceeded to their objectives. After setting up at the Governor’s mansion, the SEALs realized that their satellite communications equipment was still on their insertion helicopter. As Grenadian and Cuban troops began surrounding the men, the SEALs’ only radio ran out of battery power. They were forced to improvise, and used the mansion’s land line telephone to call their headquarters to direct AC-130 aircraft fire support on the approaching enemy. The SEALs maintained position in the mansion overnight and extracted the following morning, when they were relieved by a group of Force Recon Marines.https://www.navysealmuseum.org/naval-special-warfare/navy-seals-grenada-operation-urgent-fury
The last sentence is the key point–they were rescued by a Marine tank column because SEALs (and Delta Force) do not carry heavy weapons. Their specialty is carrying out raids and collecting intelligence. Spec Ops bubbas can do some very cool shit. But they are not a conventional force and run into trouble even when fighting a third rate conventional military force, such as Iraq. This point is illustrated in the movie Bravo Two Zero, which shows the problems that a British Special Operations unit–i.e., SAS–encountered in Iraq:
Bravo Two Zero was the call sign of an eight-man British ArmySpecial Air Service (SAS) patrol, deployed into Iraq during the First Gulf War in January 1991. According to Chris Ryan‘s account, the patrol was given the task of gathering intelligence, finding a good lying-up position (LUP), setting up an observation post (OP), and monitoring enemy movements, especially Scud missile launchers: 15 on the Iraqi Main Supply Route (MSR) between Baghdad and North-Western Iraq; however, according to Andy McNab‘s account, the task was to find and destroy Iraqi Scud missile launchers along a 250 km (160 mi) stretch of the MSR. . . .
In late afternoon of 24 January, the patrol was discovered by a herd of sheep and a young shepherd. Believing themselves compromised, the patrol decided to withdraw, leaving behind excess equipment. As they were preparing to leave, they heard what they thought to be a tank approaching their position. The patrol took up defensive positions, prepared their LAW rockets, and waited for it to come into sight. However, the vehicle turned out to be a bulldozer, which reversed rapidly after seeing the patrol. Realising that they had now definitely been compromised, the patrol withdrew from their position. Shortly afterwards, as they were exfiltrating (according to McNab’s account), a firefight with Iraqi armoured personnel carriers and soldiers began.
On the morning of 27 January, McNab’s group of five came into contact with local civilians and police. Consiglio was shot and killed by armed civilians at approximately 0200 hrs.: 172–173 Lane died of hypothermia later that same morning after swimming the Euphrates with Pring,: 163 who along with McNab and Coburn was subsequently captured. During an exchange of gunfire prior to capture, Coburn was shot in both the arm and ankle.: 225
According to McNab, the four captured patrol members (McNab, Pring, MacGown and the wounded Coburn) were moved numerous times, enduring torture and interrogation at each successive location. According to MacGown, however, “incidents such as teeth extraction and burning with a heated spoon did not happen. It is inconceivable that any such incidents could have occurred without them being discussed or being physically obvious.” At the time of the release on 5 March of MacGown and Pring, they were described as “in good shape” by a Red Cross representative.
They were last held at Abu Ghraib Prison before their release.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bravo_Two_Zero
So why am I writing about this? Because western media continues to speculate that Western Special Operations Forces are on the ground in Ukraine and that they will be a game changer in helping defeat the Russians. Sorry folks, that is a hope born of Hollywood fantasies. No matter how many push ups these guys can do, no matter how long they can go without sleep and food, no matter how good they are at cover and concealment, no matter their expertise as marksmen, they are no match for a conventional Russian military force that can hit them with barrages of artillery, mortars and missiles.
I hope that U.S. and U.K leaders have not made the idiotic decision of sending these elite men into the charnel house that is the front line in Ukraine. This is a fruitless waste of highly skilled men who do not have magical powers to defeat tanks or a battalion of Russian troops attacking their positions. I worry that former members of some of these special ops units may have signed on to fight with the Ukrainians. Regardless of their personal bravery and skill, these individuals are just one more cog in a massive war machine.
The fascination in the West with the abilities of Special Operations Forces is a symptom that the United States and the United Kingdom are fixated on achieving tactical gains on the ground while ignoring Clausewitz’s keen insight that, “War is a mere continuation of politics by other means.” War does not produce food nor ensure access to critical minerals and commodities essential to fuel a sound economy. It is but one element in the broader scheme of the politics that will determine whether a nation or group of nations can achieve their goals and survive.
I want to encourage you to read the brilliant analysis of Big Serge. His recent publication, Politics By Other Means–Putin and Clausewitz, is must reading if you want to understand the current situation in Ukraine and what Russia is trying to do. With that, I wish you a peaceful weekend.
Larry: Yet another superb article from you. And looking at the way that Russia is conducting this war, it is abundantly clear that it is echoing your thoughts of war being but one element of politics. And which is why it is proceeding so slowly and methodically.
There is a point where war moves from politics to survival. This is happening now. Any animal cornered is dangerous. There will be a movement of this war from politics and economics to survival and then things will get out of everyone’s controls when the masses move.
Ray Leddy says
and just after you wrote this, they attacked the Kerch Bridge, 100% correct.
Jim Giles says
I am tired and about to retire for the evening but I cannot end the day without sharing Larry Johnson’s latest: https://sonar21.com/the-limited-capabilities-of-u-s-special-operations-forces-in-ukraine/
Jesus, what a stud horse!!
If you are not assassinated, what are you going to do?
Radio Free Mississippi
Heads up , the real special forces are the lads deep and quiet and unseen in the “boats” ( U.K. naval slang for submarines) ? No matter what their nation state or ethnicity…
Yup. Seems the bridge bomb may have been boat under bridge.
The loss of the Muscova is huge as it had a higher class of detection instruments abd deterrence.
If you cannot deter….you cannot survive.
If a country has a criminal system based on punishment which is limited and no deterrence you get chaos and disorder and a field day for crime that is extremely difficult to recover from. Look at the US.
In the US liberal areas have low level punishment and no real deterrent to crime.
Illegal immigration into US,no deterrence, no punishment. Now it’s out of control.
Now look at Russia.
Russia is running this war like California.
No serious punish of Ukraine.
No fear factor for criminals.
Criminals NATO flood in and have a field day
Criminals NATO are emboldened
The region as a whole is deteriorating in terms of security, infrastructure, services and the ability of Russia to even know what is going on.
Russia is incapable of retaliating against NATO so far. I think that much is obvious.
Larry and others seem to say well they want yo drag out the war to max Economic damage.
This makes zero sense to me.
Firstly this war is not going to end any time soon but Donbass could have been secured by now and probably Odessa with the fighting on western rump border of Ukraine.
Secondly, what exactly is tge economic war? Western sanctions? They ain’t moving those any time soon and even if they do Russia can continue exact as it is.
In fact if it won, it would be draining less resources and it would be easier to form an effective common economic alliance.
The idea Russia taking Russian areas of Ukraine fast is a weakness is to me pure fiction.
Muralidhar Rao says
You seem to forget our most valuable allies in Middle East gave us big fat middle finger. Like Larry said war is a continuation of politics by other means. When you are in a fight you show your acquaintences/ friends how much of a patient person you are, in spite of all those provocations, then when you lower the broom heavy and hard they tend to sympothize with you. You don’t jump at every provocation.
k. Talaat says
Our real ally in the M.E. is still building settlements, annexed the Gollan Heights, Mini nuked Beirut harbor, convinced Ethiopia to take on huge debts to dam up the Nile and stress relations with Egypt, continues to bomb Syria while we occupy it’s income generating Eastern oil fields. Did we forget Lybia and how the little Micron stole Lybia’s gold reserves? Our true ally in the M.E. are all the puppets the West has installed. The M.E. has never forgotten colonialism, it never went away. Oh, do you think they have forgotten what the West has done in Iraq and still occupies it?
The article talks correctly about politics. The point is the West has no politics, just dictats. Contrast Blinken with Lavrof. The West, is an oligarchy with no politics. Politics are for nations that care for its people, its poor. its sick, its homeless and invests in their well-being. Unfortunately, one can ask this question. When will Western oligarchs face color revolutions, regime change and civil wars. Has no one ever heard of the magic turning on the magician? Or does the Western oligarchy think of its self mightier than Nature. Anything contra naturem will be aborted.May it perish this olligarchic system and I hope for a renewed drive to Democracy and yes, the Rule of Law, the Golden Rule.
P.S. I would bet that this October surprise will be laid in Biden’s lap by none other than Putin. Rythem is nothing without lengths of silence. Stay Tuned.
Could someone please look at the below video of the bridge below just minutes before the blast and tell me if it looks like a boat/intentional event underneath, if it is, then why it’s doing whatever it’s doing not on the left side which to me looks like it surely would cause more damage?
just curious you seem to stay under the radar posting usual stuff then suddenly you acted like doom sayer and concern troll.. are you now activated as sleeper troll ? because you seem to post endless concern trolling recently
k. Talaat says
“No matter how many push ups these guys can do”
Hey, that’s the line I always use! Whenever someone on these boards is fapping over a political candidate like Josh Mandel just because he was in the Marines, I always say something like:
“A Marine? Big deal. So he can follow orders and do a lot of push ups. You can train a monkey to do that.”
Paragraph 5 must be where they got the story line for one of the scenes in Heartbreak Ridge.
Chuck Burgess says
Pal, Marines do more than push ups and follow orders. Unless you are a Marine (or other veteran) STFU. My service in the Marine Corps was the most valuable time in my life and what I learned there brought me through tough times.
Larry Johnson says
Well played. My boss at State Department, a retired Marine Colonel who commanded the 5th Marines, relished reminding me of the fact that the Marines saved the SEALS. He instilled in me the importance of combined arms and heavy weapons in a real war.
A grade school buddy – retired Ranger lifer – always responds when asked what his MOS was ;
It’s a good description of Special Forces. BTW Thank you for posting those 2 long extracts. Illuminating SNAFUs
10 to 1 says
Not all special forces are the same. The primary purpose of the US Army Special Forces is not to do the actually fighting, but to organize, train and assist allied forces to do the fighting. In other words, a 10-man A-team can create a large armed force and integrate it into the West’s, intelligence, communication and targeting network in order to defeat large enemy forces.
But I agree the special forces aren’t super men, they have their limits. The problem is most US military’s planners think of them as you have, as elite shock troops, which is a waste of their talents. If used correctly they can be a major force multiplier.
Art Thomas says
I lived with a Marine Colonel and his young family during my last year in high school. I greatly admired and love this humble man. During one of our conversations he said that China would become the next great power, though I don’t recall why. This was in 1959. He died in 2016 at the age of 99 while China was becoming a world class economic power. I wonder if he remembered his prediction from long, long ago.
If you read around the Marines are always in the thick of it. No white flags as far as I know. They can also fight their way out of the shit when necessary.
The Pacific WW2 island after island as reference.
The only down side is they drink a lot of beer and swear.
“The only down side is they drink a lot of beer and swear….”
So a good business model would be to open a large bar with lots of low-priced booze as close to a Marine base as possible. 🙂
Along with us Navy guys that carted them between those islands. While we often joked with them as being “sea going bell hops,” jarheads, and much more, we had the same mission, each protected the other.
We’d fight among each other but had each others backs in foreign ports. I’m reminded of my last night in an Okinawa in ’71 when a disagreement with smart mouth British sailor erupted into a brawl. We were fearless, knowing your brothers would be there for you. Shit, they were in the thick of it!
We were all beer drinkers and hellraisers (a tip of the cap to ZZ Top). We were brothers then, and until the end. No bullshit about that. No downside.
Oops, there’s that swearing going on!
Semper Fi my brothers!
Marines are good at following orders, doing push ups and some have massive chips in their shoulders which make them believe they’re not only elite soldiers but elite humans.
They crumble though, at the slightest criticism, which they usually respond to with bad language and threats of physical violence.
Take it easy and realise that marines can only exist in a predatory, corrupted society. Unfortunately, the only one we humans seem to be able to have.
From this perspective, marines are as crap (and as wonderful) as the rest of us. No need for anyone to join the services to know this. Let’s take things with humour, otherwise we look bad.
Pito from Mescalito says
Sorry Larry. I’ve come to have respect and admiration for you over the years. Such fondness for you in fact it almost borders on love. But I think either you’re one of the undisclosed founding members of the Comedian’s hall of Fame or that you’ve lost the thread here. The Russians are finished, toasted through and done. I am hoping this bridge hit was Frizbee Central getting this over with and that negotiations are going on in Russia now as we speak for a settlement. Because if not Russia will be toasted and done to a crisp, and there are too many decent and fantastic Russians for me to be able to live with that. The joke is over. Putin needs to retire and open a Sambo school in eastern precincts of the RF. Immediately.
Cue up the ballad of Jesse James, Larry Johnson who I’d be proud to call my friend. You know how that story ended.
10 to 1 says
“The Russians are finished, toasted through and done. I am hoping this bridge hit was Frizbee Central getting this over with and that negotiations are going on in Russia now as we speak for a settlement.”
Was it over for the US when the Japanese destroyed much of the Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor? Was it over, when the US troops, lost to Field Marshal Rommel at the battle of Kasserine Pass?
There is a big difference between winning the virtual war on facebook, twitter, and in the western media, and a real war when temporary setbacks occur, but don’t decide the outcome of the larger conflict.
Eric Newhill says
Every day the Russians sit on their asses, Kiev/NATO becomes stronger and your assessment becomes more probably the correct one.
The core assumptions of the pro-Russia side are that 1. Russia is a 5D chess master and 2. NATO is thoroughly incompetent and stupid. Once one dispenses with those core assumptions, one is able to objectively assess the reality on the ground; which is that Russia initially executed a fairly amazing combined arms attack on UKR – and then ran out of gas. They should have called up the reserves and had them on deck from the beginning w/ rail cars packed full of sufficient bullets and beans for them to be able to jump off into the war at a moments notice. Then the situation became a stalemate. During the stalemate, NATO armed and reconstituted the Kiev military – like Ritter said, “game changer”. The Russians, having shot their wad and, perhaps, overthinking the political aspects (playing bad chess), continued to sit on their ass and just watched even as Kiev began to nibble away at Russian gains and initiated tactical – even strategic – attacks, like this bridge, like Nord Stream. One by one chipping away at Russian options.
Other assumptions made by pro-Russians. “Winter is coming to save the day”. Nope. Kiev knows the winter too. EU and maybe US economies will crash w/ associated civil unrest. Agree, but that is too far off in the future to be a factor.
US special operations forces – while unable to win the war like a Rambo – will add to the game changer by coordinating and directing close air support and artillery, especially US provided systems, for Kiev.
I (in my most humble opinion) gave Russia two to three weeks to turn things around and seriously believe(d) they could do it. That was a week ago. I see no evidence that Russia is doing anything new. As apparent losers, support for Russia from other countries will begin to collapse. Russia has fallen face down on its chess board and, apparently, can’t get up. Pro-Russians should begin to prime themselves for the idea that the US is likely going to prevail so it comes as less of a shock when it happens.
lol the influx of concern troll and doom sayer indicate that SONAR21 under a massive attack from astroturfer ..
incredible amount of low grade trolling and doom sayer even some of the ‘usual’ people started to expose themselves as real troll
“They crumble though, at the slightest criticism”
The heated responses anytime I make this joke, hammer home your point loud and clear. (Sorry for the mixed metaphor.)
These jock sniffers make me recoil for the same reason ziocons make me recoil from their Jew and Israel worship. I’ve got nothing against Jews or Israel for the Marines, it’s the jock sniffers who worship them that turn me off.
the pair says
beat me to it. i’ve met a LOT of marines and without exception they’re a bunch of twats with roid rage. the “nicest” one i ever met was a supervisor at an old job; he grew on you when you realized he was halfway decent but hid it behind the usual “let’s f_cking GO ladies!” and “what’s up you f_cking scumbags!” (great talk for “full metal jacket”, not so much an actual job.)
I agree with you, Chuck.
At one time or another I’ve seen virtually ever branch of the armed forces–including the Coast Guard, for Pete’s sake–traduced as ‘wimps’ ‘morons’, or worse (not here, I hasten to add, but on the ‘Net in general, which appears to me to be a pretty nasty place these days).
I suspect that the folk making such statements have never actually worn the uniform–any uniform–of the military. Personally, I have great respect for those members of the military who act honorably and perform their duty to the best of their ability, regardless of the service arm in which they do so.
JP Pence says
I dunno what’s honorable about killing other human beings, but what do I know, never had to wear a uniform (thank god!)
Biggus Dickus says
No, you’re nothing but pawns in the bigger scheme of things. You got no say other than to follow orders,, and of course to die like fools
Eric Newhill says
you’re making a sarcastic joke – like the call sign is the tip off, right?
I have nothing against marines. What I’m against is people treating them with such reverence they are almost like deities.
I don’t see people in the military as much different from your local police or firemen. They do a job, they get paid for it. I’m not a hero worshiper.
Thank you yet again Larry for your insights. Just fantastic.
Your work is superior and provides great value. As a result, I have been trying to make a contribution to your site.
I am struggling (am in Australia). I have tried BMAC and Patreon but don’t use PayPal. The former 2 keep saying that they don’t support ‘live charges’ whatever that means.
Anyway can you please point me in the right direction? Many thanks.
Anna Zimmerman says
I wonder if these men believe the myth of their own superiority? If you have any insight into their psychological qualities and the impact on their effectiveness, I would be grateful to hear it, Larry. McNab’s inability to tell a tale without grandiose exaggeration is surely indicative. Many thanks for another excellent article.
James Owen says
McNab is British. With them, there’s always a certain amount of bombastic braggadocio, and serious downplaying of defeats and failures, when it comes to their military exploits. Or non-exploits, in some cases.
As a fellow Texan and a Marine vet, I respectfully disagree. I read Bravo Two Zero shortly after it was published, then reread it a few months ago. I found it brutally realistic and quite free of braggadocio.
Never saw the movie, though.
I crossed paths with lots of Royal Marine veterans, at least one ex-Para and a few British regular army types, back in the ‘80s & ‘90s. That was after I left active duty and worked as a freelance hack in Afghanistan.
A couple were freelancers like me but most worked for a de-mining NGO.
I actually found them refreshingly free of bluster by comparison with Americans. Many shared a sort of wacky self deprecating sense of humor. You catch glimpses of that in McNab’s book.
I’ve read that the Brits’ Special Boat Service (counterparts of our SEALs) regard the SAS (comparable to Delta Force) as loudmouthed self promoters. Outside the UK nobody much has heard of SBS, and they seem to like it that way.
In the US it seems the other way round: The SEALs love to bask in the media spotlight while Delta remains very secretive.
It’s a perennial problem for special forces.
Trained for long range reconnaissance (where they try very, very hard to avoid contact with the enemy) or as a raiding force where they rely on surprise and enemy confusion to strike, but then need to be extracted before the enemy can become de-confused and organised to decisively engage them.
The British SAS was originally established as a raiding force to attack Axis airfield and destroy aircraft on the ground, hence A for Air in its title.
In peacetime, hostage rescues and counter-terrorist actions are really just particular types of raid, and therefore highly suitable for SOF.
But in wartime, their high skill levels and failure to understand that there is a relatively limited range of operations for which they are truly suited has often led to regular Army commanders and politicians expending them as shock troops.
A Royal Marine officer once told me, if you want shock troops, use the Paras, “They are thick as bricks, and will go where you point them”.
The RM have a dim view of the Paras 🙂
There are somethings that only a set of bagpipes and a Scottish Piper can do.
However sometimes you may be given just a coconut to work with and told to get the job done.
This is where it is important to know and accept the difference between a coconut and a Piper…….Yes you can get a drink out of a coconut!
Then you add rum and get a bunch of guys to sit around and come up with ideas.
One steals a tumble dryer and another traps two feral cats.
Its not quite the same but if employed correctly, it could be just as devastating as a good set of bagpipes.
Funny and clever .. thank you for a snippet of humour in this humourless thread
Important news: Crimean bridge destroyed! The consequences could now be devastating!
Fake news. A fire on a train on the rail portion of the bridge.
I get that Walt .. thx
So much bull!
Its been damaged and not destroyed. Two road lanes are intact, as I understand, and the train fire is out. Yet to see if Russia reacts as the psychos in Kiev are claiming they did it.
Dan Farrand says
For what it’s worth from the Russian MOD:
According to the Ministry of Transport of Russia, trains on the bridge will be able to start moving tonight by 20:00 Moscow time. At the same time, from 16:00, traffic was restored along one of the car lanes. The movement is carried out in reverse mode. There is no critical damage in this case, and therefore the resumption of traffic became possible.
I did see videos from motorists driving on the remaining 2 lanes of the roadway section. They stopped and filmed the down roadway section and filmed the railway section. The Fires appear to be out and equipment was on site preparing to begin moving the tanker cars blocking the rail line.
It wasn’t destroyed, it is difficult to destroy such a huge construction.
However it looks like a section has been damaged to the point of being unusable for road and rail traffic.
I doubt the US gave Ukrainians ATACMS and a green light to use it.
Maybe some kind of a truck bomb for Putin’s birthday.
Finally, some who reads Clausewitz. To understand Russian strategy, you have to understand Sun Tzu, John Boyd — and Clausewitz.
To understand Putin, you have to understand the Tao, the philosophy behind all Eastern martial arts, where space is not confused with “territory” and positioning is all important, along with targeting strikes.
To understand the political dimension of this war, you have to understand Russian culture and history, the innate conservative stubbornness of a diverse population that distrusts bureaucrats and authority, as well as the media. The war is driving the restoration of Russian national integrity.
Eric Newhill says
Wishful thinking. The more Putin screws around – allegedly playing 5D chess – the more sabotage, the more NATO develops counter measures, consolidates positions, etc.
Screw Sun Tzu and Clausewitz; just more mumbo jumbo that – like religious texts – that lend themselves to a myriad of different emphasis and interpretations.
If you are kind to your enemy, you are cruel to yourself. If you don’t crush the enemy ASAP, the enemy will find ways to fight back. The US was wise to devise a “shock and awe” approach and Russia is idiotic to lollygag around. Btw, it is possible to play 5D chess and employ shock and awe. The Russian excuse makers seem to want to convince themselves the two are somehow mutually exclusive.
As for the post – neither special operations forces nor special forces have ever won a war b/c that is not what they do – or are supposed to do. They contribute in usually small ways in unique situations. Often, they act in the role of something like an international police SWAT team. The name contains the clue, “special” and “operations”. Should be a no brainer, but Larry is right that Hollywood has convinced civilians that “special” means “supermen”.
Some commenters here have some very smug and juvenile concepts of what Marines are and do. They are as ill-informed as the idiots that think Special Ops forces can single handedly win battles and wars.
That said these spec ops guys can make a difference for Kiev by coordinating CAS and arty, etc for poorly trained Kiev troops.
Eric Newhill says
more on Clausewitz….Awkwardly worded, pedantic – and boring – Captain Obvious most of the time. Also, seemingly ignorant of deep human psychology.
Also gets things backwards or just plain misses the mark, like his observations on war and politics that get quoted a lot recently. It’s been a long time since I read him, but what struck me is that he really doesn’t address war that is as simple as “I am stronger than you and I want what you have. So I’m going to attack, kill you and plunder your stuff”, which is a lot of war (think Vikings, as but one historic example). Where is the politics in that? Another kind of war, we see it with jihadists, is basically “I’m going to kill you and take your stuff” with a “because you’re an infidel” tacked onto it. No political component involved at all; not an extension of politics in the least bit. Just brute predator and prey.
I would further say that politics is war waged by the weak. The politician is often a wannabe warlord that is too weak, too scared, too hiding behind the mask of “civilized” to go out and fight like an honest barbarian. However, deep down, they are barbarians seeking to take what they can, just as any barbarian does. In fact, I would say the neocons are of this type, only, unfortunately, they have gained access and control of a military they can occasionally use for overt conquest.
IMO, instead of putzing around w/ Clausewtzian theory pondering what the political aims are, etc. The Russians would be better served by the barbarians and jihadists wanting to kill you and take your stuff by force model. There is no negotiating. There are no politics; not at bottom. The only thing a barbarian understands is applied superior force. You kill them or they kill you.
Marines did pretty good for US corporations in a lot of places:
“ Our flag’s unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun
We have fought in ev’ry clime and place
Where we could take a gun…”
Of course as Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler pointed out,
“WAR is a racket. It always has been.
It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets? How many of them parried a bayonet thrust of an enemy? How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few — the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.
And what is this bill?
This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.
For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out…”
We may just be like the blind philosophers fondling different parts of the elephant, just sure we know what the whole beast looks like…
“screw Sun Tzu and Clausewitz” ? No point reading any further. It’s like Napoleon discussing war strategy with an 8 year old. Pointless. Enjoy your day.
Back up for Larry:
It’s always the same old same old game plan. Ukraine ain’t a safari gig. The SMO will turn “full bottle.” Very soon.
There’s already a bodycam clip on Telegram said to be SF guys coming under Russian fire near Zaporozhiye. Definitely US flag patches on some of them. Fatalities, the bodycam was taken off one.
What an idiotic waste if this is true. Like sending them over the top at the Somme and expecting a different outcome because they’re ‘real pipehitters’.
Thanks for the excellent observations, Larry. Not long after 9/11 when American forces entered Afghanistan, I remember reading a article that quoted an Army Special Forces soldier commenting on the American public’s expectations concerning the “progress” of the hunt for Bin Laden. He basically stated that Hollywood’s portrayal of elite soldiers are entirely unrealistic. They’re not supermen. Sure they’re smart, well trained and in excellent condition, but they’re not superhuman. They get tired and sick etc… and they can also be wounded and killed, just like the average enemy combatant, when things go south.
The American public tends to overplay the abilities of it’s military and downplay the ability of the enemy du jour. I’m sure that’s not unique to Americans, but it true nevertheless.
I’ve a friend who was a Navy Seal who said getting through their tough training is essentially mind over matter. And what they do is the same.
No one in the corporate media has put two and two together yet, but there has been a major escalation in the Ukrainian situation. It involves US military satellites, the “official” Russian response to the US attack on the Nordstream pipelines and the panic it has set off tonight among the Biden-Blinkin-Sullivan wing of the US administration. A very few media stories regarding Musk’s starlink satellites hint at what has happened and it has sent off shock waves in Washington tonight.
Here is a small video from RT Deutsch. At the road bridge a piece just gone and the railroad track heavily damaged.
In my eyes, clearly a terrorist attack. That would be already crazy coincidence, if on a straight piece suddenly a freight car catches fire. I suspect that a bomb was attached to a freight car and then remotely detonated on the bridge. This smells strongly of MI6 or CIA. They have the capabilities to do that. I guess they don’t check every freight car before it goes on the bridge. A missile attack is almost impossible because of the air defense, also diving fighters can be excluded so far. The bridge is too well secured for that. But yes, that’s a clever way to attach a bomb to a cistern car and detonate it remotely.
Yes now they have done it. A week ago Nordstream and now the Crimean bridge. The West seems to be in complete panic.
Am very curious what the Russians will do now. Whether they declare it as an accident in order not to escalate and just swallow it or whether they now hit back hard.
Am now very curious about Larry’s assessment!
I don’t think the west is panicking at all. Complete nonsense in my view. They just see easy pickings. They are also correct that Russia is very poor in retaliating and there is a chance they can gut them before Russia can wake up enough to escalate.
How unhappy must the ordinary Russian be at this.
Putin has changed 3 military commanders including the commander of the SMO.
They have to step up and at least provide some level of deterrence or it’s going to cost them.
Let’s hope these new commanders do better.
I think what is really freaking people out is that the “West” conducts its business on TV and instantaneously and all the time, it is a constant “information bombardment”. This is just not the Russian (nor Chinese way) and the populations in both places understand that – it is cultural.
The Russians don’t parade all sorts of people (from president down onto retired vomit spewing general) on TV/social media 24/7 and issue statement after statement, warning after warning – in USA/EU this is all done as part of a media industry that has taken over the country (a class of parasites that contribute nothing to society), for show and to demonstrate that work is being done and since the culture in the west is one of instant gratification and short attention spans, it feeds back into the constant statements and more show industry. Again, this is NOT how Russia (or China) operate. Also – patience. We have none, they have a lot.
When you square off in a fight against someone – the opponent wearing their emotions on their sleeve, throwing punches wildly, breathing heavily and telegraphing their every move etc. is easy to beat. What you worry about is the quiet opponent sizing you up, plotting, conserving resources, keeping their cards close to their chest. It is impossible to figure out what their next move is and the smart fighters are all like that. They wait until the time is right and strike confidently and efficiently. They are also ready to take a hit if it will serve them down the road.
I watched Alex Mercouris yesterday of the Duran “fame”. He too is showing his cultural misunderstanding of Russia (and China), talking about how he cannot comprehend why the Kremlin is quiet and how risky this strategy is and blah blah. Well, Russians endured 80 years of communism, deprivation etc. and the country was run in the same kind of secrecy as today and it took 80 years to “topple the regime” and the toppling happened from within the regime (Gorbachev).
Before that they had the tsars and the tsar made decisions without consulting the public all the time. Yes, they have modernized a little today but this is limited to Moscow and St. Petersburg; Russia is not just these two “avant-garde” places, it is more the “inner Russia”, Dagestan, Chechnia, villages, mountains, remote areas, so on and so on. These folks just live their lives and wait for “things to come to them”. They are also the patriotic backbone of the Russian federation. The “Moscovites” might look down on them but that is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.
In any case, in my opinion, the Russians know who is fighting exactly and where they are (what unit, what front line etc.) – both foreign mercenaries, foreign professional forces out of uniform and Ukrainians. They are watching, collating, repositioning, calculating and preparing, striking where they are confident and “letting it slide” where they are not.
Judging by how well the sanctions have gone and by all the collective west surprise at all the weapons (nuclear, hypersonic, conventional etc.) being unveiled/rolled on trains towards Ukraine, my assessment is that the collective West’s intelligence apparatus ignored Russia for 30 years. Summa summarum, the reasons are two-fold for this: 1) from the West’s side it was arrogance (Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country, what could they possibly produce that could threaten us?) combined with preoccupation with domestic issues/agendas and rapid impoverishment of intellectual/professional capacity and 2) also the fact that Putin seems to be running the whole country like it is a KGB directorate.
Meanwhile, the western media is relishing in what is essentially terrorist attacks killing civilians (Dugina, Crimean bridge, shelling of Donetsk city…) and showing even further the global south that there are two standards of moral outrage in USA/EU – one, for example, reserved for the Palestinians and the other for the Ukrainians – Ukrainians blow up a truck and kill bystanders – yay! Palestinians do the same thing – nay!
In my humble opinion, Russia’s response to all this will come when it is least expected but more importantly it will also come where least expected and in a way least expected (and no, it will not be nuclear, this is another “TV show” meant to de-sensitize the western audience to whatever is contemplated as “plan B” in Washington). The silence from Kremlin must be deafening and infuriating in DC! Such is a fight with someone you have demonstrated you know nothing about?
The Russians don’t know as much as you think.
Their intelligence is basic and their strategy has been third rate and now they are in serious trouble.
Had they done this properly, with enough troops this would be over.
To bleed yourself by 1000cuts is not clever no matter how many enemies you kill. If they keep cutting you will eventually die or be unable to fight.
War is like football a simple game hard to execute.
But the stronger team with better tactics, anticipation and discipline wins.
Russian tactics are poor right now, anticipation ok, discipline ok, strength weak.
Very quick and serious reinforcement is needed. This can no longer wait.
The heavy bombing of Ukranian supply lines and infrastructure has to begin. It was foolish to let so many foreign troops waltz in on train and plane.
Why does the train from Poland still run?
Why are Ukranian airports open?
What shit tactics are these.
Sorry but it’s beyond foolish now.
Anyone thinking this is a good place for Russia to be is naive. As a soldier the first thing you want is your enemy supply lines and reinforcements cut and you want serious air and artillery support.
The units at the from have no ability to decision make snd communicate. By the time some guy in Moscow signs off its too fucking late.
NATO looks like they could win this on better strategy and communication.
What’s NATO strategy?
They let Russia fight 3rd rate conscript troops for about 6 months holding back better troops and training thousands.
They learnt that it was best to attach from rear with highly mobile small units.
They have successfully created terror and sabotage in Russia whilt Russia has created confidence and safety in their enemies minds.
Psychologically big big fail from Russia.
They underestimated and did not understand the West. The West on the other hand understand Russia better and have clear insiders feeding them info. So they have infiltrated there is little doubt about that.
West is very unified. Division in Russia is growing.
Someone needs to get a grip very soon. I’m not clear what military philosophy of the new SMO commander is but let’s see.
You are wrong and you shall see this pretty soon. The Russians aren’t imbeciles. They are running circles around the combined west politically and financially, give them time. Remember, there are no coincidences.
Agree with everything except that “the Russian reponse to all this will come when least expected.” In the era of the satellite you are not going to fool anybody.
Personally, I think that’s the reason Zelensky is suddenly begging Nato to use its nukes, because he’s looking at imagery every morning with his cocaine laced coffee that clearly indicates, something massive is coming his way.
For instance, Yves Smith pointed out today that losing “the all-important bridge” is not a big deal, because all the elements needed for the offensive have already crossed it. What a fine military mind that woman has.
It’s all coming down to Vlad. Is he up for it? There is very good case to be made that he isn’t, in fact Paul Craig Roberts made a good one yesterday.
President Putin will stop at nothing in order to stall and stall and stall, so he can make offers to negotiate, and stall some more.
But I don’t think so. I think he’s had his Saul of Tarsus moment.
Will the Russians wait till the ground freezes? Since when have the Russians given a shit about mud? That’s a Wehrmacht excuse. They’ll roll as soon as they’re ready, regardless of conditions, that’s my prediction.
Eric Newhill says
MAX424 – maybe, but they need to do it very soon
Russians are not finished. That is hysteria. Slap yourself and sniff a peppermint tea.
They are in trouble.
They have capacity to get out of it.
Question is will they and what will NATO do in the interim.
I must say the British have played a blinder so far. The Americans are sort of lumbering along. The Poles are jackals and jackasses generally.
It’s not for no reason the British conquered half the world. Such civilized conscience free complete savages as these the world has never seen.
This is a British masterclass in political and military punching above your weight. And no lizz truss is not running anything. Hats of MI6 you evil nazi bastards. First the got Maidan done, then got rid of Trump (Steele) now they have pulled Europe into hell and they own America.
Dunno. Paul Craig Roberts makes some good arguments but they boil down to “Putin should have not allowed anything starting in 2014”. However, I think Russia was not ready to fight a war in 2014, both militarily nor economically not in public opinion in global south terms. If you accept the fact that the West is crazy (Roberts’s premise) – then they would have been as crazy in 2014 as they are now and as ready to push this to “Armageddon”. However, now after Covid and 8 years of printing more money, political scandals and crises and divesting from manufacturing, the West is not as powerful.
As for why Putin is not hitting back now – valid question! I guess “now” is a relative term – if he strikes back in 2 weeks, does that still count as now?
Tom S. says
First of all they appear to be tank cars. Carrying what? Something volatile? RR car bearings overheating is fairly common (it’s called a hot-box). Has nothing to do with straights, curves, etc. They just run dry of lubricant and the weight any bearing is carrying is measured in tons, even empty. I have seen wheels/axle ends literally melt. The longer the straight away and further from the locomotive the harder they are for the crew to spot before catastrophic failure.
Secondly, are the Russkies moving ordnance by truck across the bridge? If such a truck had a flat on one of its duals the flat tire may well have caught fire and detonated the payload (and no the driver might not have caught it in time, happens all the time in the trucking world). There were several incidents of that happening on U.S. highways towards the end of the VN war. I don’t know if the Russky arty is as heat proofed as U.S. The point I’m making is that there are reasonable explanations other than an arty/missile strike, suicide bomber, etc. Sometimes an accident is just that. Modern war is an industrial event and industrial accidents do occur, often.
I find it odd that Kiev seemed as surprised by it, at first, as everyone else. I would have thought they would have been johnny on the spot to take credit for such a high PR value op as this, if it was indeed a planned/executed op.
Which is why I keep thinking- what outcome does RUS-EU want?
At this point, there is no consensus on what the European borders will look like.
To this, RUS has said that the 4 new regions are non-negotiable. This new phase of ops with the 300k men is going to mean at least another 3-4 oblasts going over to RUS.
I think RUS is prepared to stop any time in terms of seizing territory in UKR- especially if one considers the fact that difficulty of securing land increases as one moves further West in UKR. I still think that RUS does not want endless counter-terror operations and/or and Afghan 2.0…. but it is also clear that RUS wont accept a pro-Nazi UKR.
However, this resolving a pro-Nazi UKR should be comparatively easier as long as NATO-US does not pump in weapons and the collective West reaches a negotiated agreement with RUS on the borders of UKR.
A negotiated settlement is premised on the perception that both parties have given away some of what they want. However, I’m not sure what RUS can give away at this point in time…
Which brings us back to the present- since the West has not shown any inclination of stopping their arms supplies, RUS must prepare to take and secure land all the way to Lviv.
Frankly, if the West does not agree- it’s going to be a really long drawn affair…
And I would also add that 300k is not enough to go all the way to Lviv.
So I think RUS is taking this step by step- convincing its citizens along the way and giving normal sane Europeans a chance to come to a negotiated settlement.
Contrary to popular belief, I think this manner of military operations will lead to more sustainable peace- compared to the US approach.
Had RUS gone in blazing into the 4 oblasts and flattening everything- i doubt the referendum would have been so clear and the support from the RUS mainland so overwhelming.
No. Disagree. They are just caught short at the front.
Their objectives have also changed with their territory.
Let’s see how they respond.
Special forces types are useful for special situations, but they are marginal to the outcome of a war. Their expertise is limited. Their contribution to winning a war is trivial. They are filled with a special breed of men, but it is the common soldiers who will decide the issue of victory or defeat.
Thanks Larry, for saying what needed to be said.
Hollywood has poisoned the American mind with a wunderwaffen or a trick that saves the day and the great man theory of history. In reality, it is logistics (other things being adequate). And mass produced, reliable military technology – field tested – which means a solid industrial capacity.Yet the more I see the US elect different leaders and nothing changes, the more its obvious, it is not the man (or women) it is the system, and the great man is just kicking the walls that are already rotten.
As more NATO (nor former Warsaw pact) weapons enter Ukraine, more NATO operators will be needed to man them, repair them, etc., SF are likely to fill that role, as the west slouches into a direct conflict with Russia.
In other news, I saw on twitter or somewhere strange reports of bright vertical lights from Belgorod, and more recently heard that starlink no longer works for Ukrainian forces. Interesting. Perhaps the Nordstream retaliation will be orbital.
It is simple: an anti personal mine costs less than a dollar, and will stop whatever elite soldier you have. You won’t see it, and if you find one, the chaos starts, because now there may be more.
I was drafted as a Panzergrenadier, a soldier walking aside armoured vehicles. It was disillusioning. At first I was proud of being chosen because of physical strength. Then I understood into what hell I had entered.
Since this time, I absolutely hate these films from Sylvester Stallone. They are just the opposite of truth.
The US still uses mines to secure its mobile camps, isn’t it?
Josef Schweik says
After NS 1 and 2 another humiliation, the Crimea bridge damaged, Happy birthday Mr Putin.The effect is psychological mainly. They, UA and/or NATO have shown that the bridge is vulnerable and that what just happened can happen again. Furthermore, if it really was that truck, it means that the attack came from Russia hinterland, very clever in terms of PR and psyop. Another Ru fail in the chain of fast happening epic fails. What can we expect, another great speech from Putin, I presume?
One of my friends who is a US marine was I think representative of the ones I knew. Tough. Disciplined. But unlike certain forces there is an honour code and a conscience. I believe this is why so many had metal issues after recent US wars.
He became a IP professional and retained a slight jumpiness. He would tell me about how they would hit Iraqi troops with those weapons so powerful the force would kill and air sucked right out.
When they walked into the camps the Iraqi fighters were dead frozen in place like statutes. Some had pictures of their families on them. Others doing ordinary things men do.
Of all the things that affected him most, was a dead Iraqi soldier, who died with his two children’s picture on a table while writing a letter.
As he put it, ‘I looked into that man’s dead eyes and in his eyes I saw hell’.
He never recovered. He took the picture without thinking, somehow he could do something with it. He still has it. He says sometimes he feels like he is going mad. Then he looks at that pictures and realises he does not deserve the escape of going mad.
It’s easy to send soldiers into war. But leaders forget, don’t care that an unjust war can destroy the minds of soldiers and then they never leave that hell. All good men fighting now on all sides deserve our prayers.
dunno how many americans know about the Patilia airfied disaster when SEAL team lost their comm with orbiting gunship and have to assault and destroy noriega’s learjet across an open runway and got shot up bad by local guards
the hype over SEAL and other special forces stuff in america indeed a problem , along with putting military on pedestal and the deification of these people in the mind of weak americans.
how many people still remember the DGSE raid in Bulo Marer that ended up in defeat ? how many still remember the Delta Force raid in Kandahar 2001 when almost a hundred of lightly armed delta boys encountered mullah omar’s soldiers with heavy weapons and have to retreat ?
Chechnya is preparing an additional 70,000 soldiers if needed in addition to the 10,000 already in eastern Ukraine killing Nazis.
Big time escalation.
There are also increasing protests against Chechen fighting as there is a sense they are disproportionately represented.
Great fighters but if alot die disproportionately there will be problems for Russia.
there is no such thing
why you are spreading disinformation and fake news ? i read your recent posts and you seem to act like concern troll
Careful lads … this may be the opportune moment for Uncle Sam to detonate a nuke in a FF and say it was in retaliation for the bridge… having said that, I think some bullies are about a get lesson from the sheriff .. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fno5aFcJQF0
This is my concern too. That this could be intended to appear as “motivation” for a false flag to come.
Hopefully repairs will be super quick. I’ve read in several places, the bridge appears to be a modular design & its support posts were not damaged. So it should be relatively easy to fix. In the meantime, they’ve already arranged workarounds.
All of our Special Operations units have very different mission statements. You’d expect as much because it wouldn’t make much sense to spend tons of money to train everyone to do the same thing. In peace time that works out pretty well. When wars come along three things happen. First is the Generals become political. There are no bigger budgets when you tell Congress that “it’s not our job”. Second is everyone sees medals and promotions happening so they want in on the fight. Finally, a lot of Cool Aid is consumed and some of the folks start believing the propaganda that is portrayed on TV and in movies. There is a reason why Special Forces is called “the Quiet Professionals”. For the most part they are humble folks that did their job well. Come to one of our reunions sometime. You’d be surprised that we all don’t look or act like Rambo. Seals on the other hand seem to have a full time PR department. Expectations become really high. Hence witness the drug use problems with the Seals that we’ve seen the past few years. We wouldn’t send an Army Postal Unit to fight on the front lines, but our Generals seem to have no problem deploying our Special Opns folks to missions completely out of their knowledge base. With that said, it isn’t until you are out of Special Opns that you realize that one of the greatest asset you had was access to resources. Yeah, you might have only been a 6 or 12 man team, but you had amazing communications to call for air support (air force or army), logistical support (ground or air drop), all sorts of indirect fires, air extraction, or if it got really bad lots of reinforcement. Some learn this in time. Others don’t. And of course you always have that small number of folks that learn to really like fighting and killing and Ukraine happens to be a place to do it right now. If not Ukraine they will always find someplace else.
Tom S. says
I read somewhere that for every SecOp on mission the support train is between 1k to 3k strong, depending on mission and how far “out there” they are. That’s per Operator not per mission.
John Thurloe says
I wonder what the Russian First Guard Tank Army is doing right now.
Seeing as how it is not practicing its trade in the Ukraine.
This must piss off its personnel. Being the A Team yet sitting on the benches.
Of course, everyone knows that good generalling demands you take your most able fighting forces and make sure the do…nothing. Robt. E. Lee, U.S. Grant, Oliver Cromwell, et al were famed for following this rule.
Spirit of the wind says
How big is a British Army Battlegroup?
HOW MANY BATTLE GROUPS DOES THE BRITISH ARMY HAVE?
A typical Battlegroup fighting a defensive battle on the FEBA (Forward Edge of the Battle Area), and based upon an organisation of one armoured squadron and two mechanised companies, could contain about 600 men, 16 tanks and about 80 armoured personnel carriers.
The British army has twelve of these.
Now lets look at Russia.
In August 2021, Russia’s defence minister said the country had about 170 BTGs. Each BTG has approximately 600–800 officers and soldiers, of whom roughly 200 are infantrymen, equipped with vehicles typically including roughly 10 tanks and 40 infantry fighting vehicles.
Agreed they’re throwing in highly skilles special forces because that’s all they’ve got.
The rest of the EU has even less of these than the UK per nation, they ain’t in no shape to do “nuffin”, the US could but the logisitics of shifting that much stuff to Europe is massive would take time and is basically WW3, nah, this is about Neocons prolonging this war to fill their pockets with blood soaked money bought with Ukranian lives, and Zelensky is in on a piece of the action.
We could call it a war of corruption, BIGTIME.
south bird says
uk reduced its total military at the start of this conflict y 10% taking its total armed forces (air land and sea + office workers and staff) from 80k down to around 72 thousand total.
Biggus Dickus says
//I hope that U.S. and U.K leaders have not made the idiotic decision of sending these elite men into the charnel house that is the front line in Ukraine. //
I sincerely hope that they’re sent yo Ukraine so that their sorry lives will be ended.
I’ve seen many US Americans like yourself denying any involvement in the crimes committed by the US government around the world. But you guys conveniently forget that it’s your type of people who emphatically join the military to ‘defend your country’ when what you actually do is go into other sovereign countries, killing children and women, burning, and pillaging their wealth.
These SOBs don’t have any conscience. They’re as narcissistic as their leaders. They should suffer the most painful deaths. Their children should be fatherless and wives should be going around whorring themselves to other men.
You got to do what I did when I was about 19-20 in the mid 80s. Around sophomore year at Universtiy, enrolled in the History department concentrating in Int. Relations, I had USMC recruiters calling me constantly to sign up as a ROTC candidate. Knowing already how corrupt the system was, after a while and totally fed up, I told them basically to f*ck off! I knew they had me black-listed if an ever the draft would have been reinstated, but seems I got the better of them. One of the main reasons I moved out of the States a few years later not to have to deal with all that blind militarism anymore.
War by other means. Pepe Escobar interviews Michael Hudson.
Hudson: “Maybe it’s easier just for German industry to pack up and move to Russia to help modernize its industrial production …”
How long does it take to de-industrialize a nation’s economy? Well, in the case my country, the US, the bulk of it took place in the span of about fifteen years.
In Germany’s case, it seems, it could literally happen in less than one.
I’m sure the fact that US special ops were doing their thing in Ukraine, was no surprise to Larry, but this guy has been pointing this out since May.
Curt Nichols says
Putin is playing the long game. Putin would react if Russia itself was attacked. Putin is waiting for the ground to freeze. AT some point, you realize Putin is just like Western politicians. He will let troops and civilians die for political purposes. But here is where Western propaganda is wrong. Russia is not a dictatorship. And the people there are getting pissed that this war is NOT being fought to be won. Putin either gets off his ass shortly, or he will be in trouble. And whether Putin wakes up, or someone takes over with a spine? That is when the Western world has a serious problem. Because as Larry astutely points out, SOF/DELTA/etc., are a lot of things. They are not an army. They are a scalpel for surgery. Not a hammer. And when they get in the way of a hammer? They die.
Russia has been attacked several times with zero response.
James Owen says
If you just want to get into a lot of firefights and see a lot of action, join the infantry.
Oblomovka daydream says
Moon of Alabama today has a report on the Kerch bridge attack as well as a report on US special operations personnel in UA. ‘Colonel Cassad’ claims to have footage from an American Go-Pro camera held by an American mercenary “who literally lost his head”. The Starlink internet of Elon Musk has been totally blocked by the RF, disabling all communications within the UAF. Perhaps this signals the initiation of the Russian offensive…
When the topic of Grenada comes up I always pause to remember one of my flight instructors in primary who was KIA two years later in 1983. RIP Maj J. P. Giguere, USMC.
Michael Droy says
Yes I read both books about the Bravo-Two-Zero SAS squad.
There are a lot of differences about supposedly the same events.
Andy McNab’s account seems less trustworthy. Chris Ryan then did a great job of showing McNab to be a bluffer without directly saying so.
Both have gone on to write a supposedly autobiographical heroic stuff and tons of fictional SAS stories to great success. Or rather I would guess their ghost-writers have, while they sign the books and take a big chunk of the cash.
Here in Brazil there are also Special Forces, highly trained men and as our country is very large and with several types of biome, for each region such as Amazonas, Caatinga (dry region and sparse vegetation, typical of the Northeast), Pantanal (my land), Southeast and Midwest regions. They are extremely demanded and the Armed Forces always, when they can, require men from the region where they were born and raised, such as indigenous people in the North Region (Amazonas and Pará), backcountry people from the Caatinga, Pantaneiros and so on. They are internationally recognized for their competence and the Armed Forces have special programs when they are discharged, inserting them into the private sector in the area of security, communication, training of recruits, etc. They need to do this so that they are not co-opted into Organized Crime or other criminal activities. In short, they seem to be a disease that has contaminated practically all countries.
Harry Terms says
(according to McNab’s account)
Raven 6 says
Soldiers before leave, and after leave. If you’re been there done that, you’ll understand.
MOA sitrep for today features a quote from Colonel Cassad reporting the destruction of US special forces patrol in Ukraine.
Can you post a link to where I can find that report? On Sputnik it says “This channel can’t be displayed because it violated local laws.”
bob sykes says
US/UK special forces were reported and photographed by the BBC (?) to be on the ground in the Donbas as early as 2014. And today, the RF is claiming to have a large number of Western special forces. So, yes, we are wasting our SOCOM.
On the other hand, after 5 months of excruciatingly painfully slow grinding, the Russian advance stalled out, and Ukraine gained the initiative. For the last 2 months Ukraine has dictated when and where battles will occur, and Ukraine has made some territorial gains. Today the Kerch bridge is partially destroyed, although at least a car/truck lane and the RR lane remain open. The ZNNP has been cutoff from any external power, and the cooling water system is running on emergency diesel generators.
The possibility exists that Ukraine will ultimately win this war, and regain all the lost territory, including Crimea. The question now is whether Russia can regain the intiiative, and impose its will on Ukraine. Frankly, that needs to be demonstrated.
The two-month string of Russian losses, although relatively minor, raise the possibility of a coup by Russia’s far right that would install an extreme nationalist party, and that would lead to a greatly expanded war.
The next week may prove to be a major turning point in the war.
“Russian advance stalled out”. Nope. They gaining on Bakhmut.
“Kerch bridge partially destroyed”. Yes. But train traffic & car traffic are back on. Ukraine achieved nothing strategic.
“possibility exist Ukraine will ultimately win”. Everything is possible. But not everything is probable.
“.. can Russia impose its will”. Already did. Donbass officially absorbed into Russia.
Ukraine is exhausted. Russia has just started. Have faith.
Black Cloud says
US Spec Ops, HIMARs, switchblade drones, sanctions, NATO membership …
Reading the account of the SAS team helps explain why so many citizens in foreign lands hate the west. That goat herder was just herding his goats. The SAS soldiers “debated” about killing him.
Essentially murdering a civilian just herding his goats so as to keep their mission on track.
Later they carjacked a taxi, a civilian taxi with civilians, at gun point. All in the name of democracy?
Why is it that so many civilians end up dying when the west decides to “save them and help bring them democracy”?
To me it’s amazing how we in the west somehow imagine all these foreign countries would have no problem with foreign troops on their soil “keeping the peace”.
I can’t imagine Americans would tolerate armed Polish soldiers or Italian soldiers in our cities as “peace keepers”.
I don’t know what Putin knows or doesn’t.
But it is beyond clear that senior military officers are deliberately sabotaging this war.
At the outset the Rtd Colnel general of Russia said the army opposed this war and that he spoke for the military that could not speak.
The Russians success has really been the dplr, LPR, Chechen and Cossack success. All have command structures outside the core Russian army.
The Russian military leaders directed missiles, attacks on infrastructure etc…general strategy. Thus is where Russia has failed failed failed.
As the Chechen leader put it, there are liars and traitors around Putin. Who are deliberately sabotaging Russia.
I was skeptical of this.
Increasingly I see it is correct.
The Russian military leadership is sabotaging deliberately this war.
Will the changes to leadership just made make any difference?
Months ago I said the West were worryingly confident. I think it’s getting clear why.
Russia is a corrupt country at senior levels. It’s military unfortunately appears to be no exception.
Eric Newhill says
maybe the senior military leaders that appear to be sabotaging have reason to believe they will get something good in the post-Putin world?
LOL, and ours isn’t corrupt? Hell. Our Military under Biden is a joke. The only thing they will bring into battle are pronouns, and wokeness! Spare me your critique of the Russian Army. I’d take them any day over the rot we have – Vietnam War Navy Security Group Command 68-72
MIC is corrupt.
But not to the extent of selling out to foreign powers and sabotaging US was efforts. Though Israel may differ on that I suppose.
Biden…as Obama put it, Don’t underestimate Bidens ability to f things up.
There is research showing trans agenda increases children’s acceptance of evils like paedophilia as normal. So it’s going to get worse. You can see what there agenda really is…make the obsense untruth normal
Do you remember the Afghan withdrawal? That was sabotaging US war efforts.
Eric Newhill says
In addition to Israel, I’d say the US leaders sold out to China as well. That manufacturing of critical components, pharmaceuticals, etc. ,was sent to China should be very disturbing to all the Clausewitz fans here, not to mention economists. And no, it wasn’t something that big business just did on its own. It was actually a strategy pushed by the CIA, among others, to bring China into the modern capitalist world and to slowly, but surely, integrate them with “us” to the point were they wouldn’t be a threat. Of course we know that little scheme didn’t quite work out the way we wanted it to. For some crazy reason they still think of themselves in self-interested nationalistic and racial terms. Then there’s the Bidens taking all of that Chinese money. Other also ran POTUS candidates and elected congress critters as well.
Furthermore, the US generals have sold out to wokeness and other silliness that seem to be ideologies coming out of a globalist agenda. US military recruitment is 70% below target as a result.
I see a clear thread in your postings, Ash, driven by an emotionalism that obscures the implications of facts. So when you remove your emotional layer, here are the facts that remain:
1. Over the course of the last 8 years, Russia has taken exclusive control of about two-thirds of the Black Sea coast.
*implication = these areas become part of Russia’s exclusive economic zone
2. Over the course of less than a year, Russia’s commodity-based economy has proven itself more stable than the finance-based economies of the west
*implication = Russia’s economy is now as durable as any western economy and the most attractive prospect for Chinese capital
3. In the past week, Russia has created a stable energy market by ensuring a reduction of 2 million barrels of oil per day from the global oil market.
*implication = Russia’s economy is now safe in the near-term from any collapse of the commodities-based economic system
What are the actual implications of the West’s recent “successes?”
1. Sanctions. Have strenghtened the value of the ruble without actualy weakening the commodities-based economic system
2. Nordstream. Has structurally ensured high energy costs for Europe for at least the near term and probably for at least a decade. May have increased energy revenue for Norway in the short-to-intermediate term.
3. Crimean bridge. Has delayed shipments of goods and materials for 24-48 hours and forced Russia to incur some repair costs.
And a few, non-emotional questions for you…
1. How many U.S. satellites have been attacked by the Russians this week? What are the implications of that?
2. What happens if the Republicans take over one or both houses of the U.S. Congress in January? Do Anthony Blinken and Jake Sullivan retain the same level of support with their foreign policy if they do?
3. If Russia makes a push on Kiev this winter, will there be a refugee surge toward Poland? If so, how many refugees will there be, where will they be housed, where will their heating and energy come from, and will the United States pay for it?
4. What future do you forsee for the Chunnel, the Baltic Sea pipeline and the GPS network?
Lets see how your analysis is when it is devoid of emotionalism…
Ronald McDonald says
And your source of information is CNN, the NYT, your CIA handlers …?
Larry, thank you for the link to the Big Serge article. It is has amazing strategic insights.
Eloquenty written. Very interesting, I read it to the end with red-ears…
It enables me to understand the behavior of The Russian Government and militairy.
I wish more commentators on U-tube would read the article.
10 to 1 says
Larry, grouping all special forces into the same category of small elite units used for destroying enemy targets and fighting and defeating enemy units is wrong.
I agree the Special Forces aren’t all powerful and have limits, but when used correctly they can a major force multiplier.
For example, the US Army Special Forces can perform many types of missions, their main purpose is to organize, train, and assist allied forces to do the fighting. For example, an Army SF A team of 10 men can create, and assist a small, allied army, while integrating that allied army and its combined arms forces, into the west’s intelligence, communications, and targeting network in order to defeat a much larger enemy force.
Special Forces on the Ground in Ukraine
Update: Special forces are IN the ground, in Ukraine.
Dan Farrand says
Several comments read suggesting Russia is finished and defeated in Ukraine ? Many site the seeming inaction amidst talk of buildup in Crimea and around Belograd. Here is my theory (for what it’s worth – perhaps not much):
When the war started, Brigades in the Russian army condensed out the contract soldiers and much of their firepower into BTG’s. Those BTG’s fought more or less independently or in loose, groupings.
Now Russia is preparing 370k troops. The BTG arrangement is inappropriate. They are taking the time to dismantle the BTG’s and reconstitute Brigades/Divisions/Corp. This will take time. Time to rearrange people, re-man hollowed out formations, reset command and control and reestablish unit cohesion. Presumably, they are also incorporating lessons learned in the last 6 months. The main one being (in my opinion) that sometimes there was long delay between spotting the target, requesting a fire mission, getting it approved and fires on the way.
Once this is done, the Russian Army will have 12 divisions in 3 Corp along with independent, specialist Brigades and will be prepared to conduct large Corp sized operations – something we have not seen in this war thus far.
Or it may be that the Russian Army is just a shambling hobo army on it’s last legs.
Either way, it’s “show me” time.
Jim Christian says
Larry, TX for the BigSerge. I joined Substack to get his stuff. Excellent. Further evidence that you folks have forgotten more than I will ever know. I’m not promoting, but I found a good Russian newspaper that is giving excellent news without political rot, VZ.RU. You need a good translator if you don’t read Russian, but it’s really worth it. I read Moscow Times the other day and it’s like reading Washington Post during Vietnam. Full of hatred for Putin. Share and share alike. Thanks for the link, Larry. I wish we could have a thread where excellence in reportage could be shared between us all. It’s a big world. Not all of it is shitstained by Western politics. There are many, this I know. Just gotta find them.
The Prussian actually translates, more correctly, to: “…in addition to other means.” Which seems semantic, but matters a great deal.
And, for what it’s worth, the Russians have been exercising Clausewitz’ original intent.
Eric Newhill says
Makes a lot more sense. Thank you.
Just wondering, (and no offense intended), but why can’t you good folk in the US just get together and crowdfund a third political party? I mean if the big corps and MIC can essentially fund the duopoly. I mean you could put up candidates and everything and these candidates directly picked by the people could campaign directly to the grass roots given the wonderful tools on the internet today. Or is it just a pipe dream? (no pun intended). Or is there too much bureaucracy? Just a thought.
Truth man says
It’s Germany all over again. Hitler was right. Just listen to his speeches. What happened there is happening right now just as he said. Look at all the top spots in the media and finance! What religion do they subscribe to? They also changed their last names so it’s not so obvious. Kanye just spoke in it recently. He knows and is waking up. He said they were trying to silence him and that powerful celebrities are controlled by them. Facts are facts. If you do your research you’ll see it.
Jim Christian says
Great thoughts. And sorry to say, not a chance. The DemoPublicans rule. And whichever party occupies the White House delivers greater and greater grift to the Military Industrial Congressional Complex. Last two that tried to stop it, Jack and Bob Kennedy, got a bullet, head shots. Murdered for their trouble. Because when you get in the way of the war cabal, you’re messing with the people who kill people. There’s been freak candidate outliers that swayed an election or two here and there but only swayed to a republican or democrat. Jill Stein, Buchanan, Paul maybe, look em up. But for us here, 2 parties, that’s it, equally depraved when it comes to military murder and financial grift.
I don’t think these examples are legitimate at all. They’re all from 30+ years ago. The advancements made in teens of skill, tech, weaponry, etc makes comparing them to SEALS from 1983 is completely illogical to me. I don’t believe in the western news propaganda but I also think this piece is no different. You can and have done much better than this!
Larry Johnson says
I could have gone on to cite all of the “victories” in Afghanistan and Iraq that ended up not changing one damn thing. In fact, the “wars” in Afghanistan and Iraq were more Special Ops affairs than conventional military battles. How did that work out? I don’t recall the U.S. celebrating a major victory in either place. You are entitled to think whatever you want but the facts support me.
Alex Thrace says
I always looked at Special Ops as a scalpel. Great for precision surgery but not very good for taking down a tree. Same as you would not try to remove your appendix with a chainsaw.
Each task requires the optimal tool for that task
A A Ron says
Good analogy. A scalpel will be destroyed trying to cutting down a tree, and an axe or chainsaw will destroy the patient in surgery.
Sierra Madre Trails says
The special forces do not enter Russia because they are not trained to fight equally. anyway Russia is waiting for them.
Jim Giles says
Dr. Roberts is an economist not a military general or intelligence officer.
Larry Johnson has yet to respond. Undoubtedly thinking long and hard about the matter.
You are clearly resisting doing what your enemy is trying to force you to do, i.e., go nuclear or at least go to war with ZOG in earnest.
I believe ZOG’s effort to destroy Russia is a bridge too far. ZOG’s MO worked with Iraq and Afghanistan but will not work with Russia. You have a master plan without question in dealing with all of this.
What are you going to do?
Radio Free Mississippi
While this attack on the Kerch Strait bridge can be chalked up as a (extremely limited) tactical success, it is very much a strategic failure. This, and other events, like the murder of young Darya Dugina, only serve to galvanize Russian public opinion in support of Putin, and the Special Military Operation in Ukraine. The notion that the West poses an existential threat to the Russian Federation, and it’s people is now firmly rooted in the minds of most Russians. https://bigserge.substack.com/p/politics-by-other-means
Currently, the Russians have stabilized their lines of defense; men, materiel and equipment are flooding into Western Russia’s newest Oblasts; a tough, seasoned General has been given command of operations along the entire 1200KM front. When the ground freezes the Ukrainians, and NATO, are going to find out exactly how Russia wages war. And they’re going to find out good and hard.
Jim Giles says
Actually Larry Johnson has responded:
“I could have gone on to cite all of the ‘victories’ in Afghanistan and Iraq that ended up not changing one damn thing. In fact, the ‘wars’ in Afghanistan and Iraq were more Special Ops affairs than conventional military battles. How did that work out? I don’t recall the U.S. celebrating a major victory in either place. You are entitled to think whatever you want but the facts support me.”
Until better advised Larry Johnson’s view and analysis of the situation is the very best. But even Mr. Johnson wants to know what you are going to do.
What are you going to do?
Radio Free Mississippi
A A Ron says
The classic missions of US Army Special Forces – as differentiated from various Special Operations Forces – are advisors and trainers for foreign internal defense. Their value proposition is to increase the capability of the “friendly” inhabitants to fight for themselves. They have a long history of success. See, for example, the movie “12 Strong”. This is quite different from “Direct Action” taken by various SOF organizations, which have good success in pulling off snatches, intel exploitation, small raids, and the such, but never had success against larger professional conventional formations.
If SOF could beat competent and adequately armed conventional armies, no country would bother raising conventional armies.
So i surmise that the western SOF will probably be limited to advise and training, and for direct action they will execute small raids, recon, “drone” attacks, etc.
Just my opinion, not a SF guy myself but have worked with them.
Personally, i don’t like the fact that some of our best folks are being deployed into another conflict that will NEVER have any benefit to America.
Lance Gatling says
I think that the presence of SF is overblown and a typical rumor mill output.
Think about it – Army SF in the business of organizing and training folks are trained to do it with poorly organized local light forces or unorganized civilians.
Light weapons and basic tactics.
The task in Ukraine is training in advanced and heavy weapons – 155mm howitzers, NATO tanks, UAVs, antitank missiles, etc. Only the latter is likely in the wheelhouse of SF. Everything else requires heavy logistics assets, maintainers, organizing parts and large ammo shipments, etc.
And coordinating logistics, intel and operations across a country larger than France and a 500 mile long front Kharkiv – Kherson is not an SF task – they have capabilities that can support, like training the small UKR hit and run ATV-mounted ATGM teams, but this more a typical large, heavy forces challenge requiring an expansive staff.
But the Ukrainian Army top level staff has not seemed to be damaged or even targeted, and you don’t hear of Ukrainian generals being killed in the front lines, so much of the US or NATO presence incountry would probably be liaison officers LNOs coordinating ops, logistics, training and intel exchanges to the largely intact and, even prior to the open warfare, pretty professional UKR conventional armed forces pros.
Also note that the road transportation into Poland is operating uninterrupted AFAIK so lots of Ukrainian troops and new recruits can be trucked over road into mass training areas in the safety of Poland, where larger cadre of conventional troops and trainers can drill them on specific weapons systems and even sizable maneuver unit operations.
So, I have no doubt there are some US SF elements involved, I’d expect the main effort lies more in the conventional force advisors and trainers. Fielding entire logistics capabilities for something like a handful of HIMARS vehicles would be a headache at the best of times, so probably depot maintenance / combat damage repair is being performed somewhere in Poland near the border, where US / NATO could field any number of retired, active or contractors familiar with those systems, probably even drawing on the current US logistics system for parts.
Larry Johnson says
Amen. You said it best.
Reply to Oddo above:
“if”… Putin … ” strikes back in 2 weeks, does that still count as now?”
Indeed it does. And such a strike will not only shut Paul Craig Roberts up, but me as well.
Putin picked Plan A in the beginning, which was nothing more than a semi-bluff. Roll out the Big Do Nothing Column to the left of Kiev, perform, by flying road-bound mobile-battalions, a spiderweb thin blitzkrieg of the rest of the northeast,* do some serious military work down south, where the Nazis were the thickest, all in effort to shock Zelensky to the bargaining table.
And it worked. That’s what so many of us forget, myself included. Plan A was a success!
But the Pentagon, or whomever is in charge in Washington (who knows), anticipated all of this, scuttled the peace talks that were very much heading toward a resolution, and thereby drew Putin (and by proxy, Zelensky) and his Federation deeper into the quagmire, which they were fully aware was the only possible military situation that could arise given the relative force allotments.
So well done Pentagon, or Sleepy Joe, or Blinky Blinken, or whomever runs my country.
But again, I’m from the Michael Hudson school, which believes that US policies are so shortsighted they are forcing hardcore neo-liberal leaders of nation-states to think in terms of sovereignty for the first time in their lives.
And it applies to more than just the economic front. It applies to war as well.
Putin has been left by Washington with no choice now but to de-Nazify and de-militarize Ukraine, all of it, or die trying, which is something he would have fallen FAR SHORT of accomplishing, if he has settled up back in April.
*Those mini-blitzkreig operations (even more so perhaps than the Mariupol Campaign, another brilliant example of martial art), will be studied by military scholars till the end of time. One of the reasons I think these coming offensives are going to prove unstoppable.
The Russians already did this with tremendous speed, dash, audacity, you name it, with a bare minimum of forces, many of those flying battalions operating at the very end of the tether, veritably forced to live off the land in some cases, just seven months ago.
Ghost Ship says
Clausewitz actually said “War is a mere continuation of politics with other means”
Diplomacy doesn’t end when the fighting starts as war is just another tool for politicians to achieve their political objectives which determines who wins/loses.
For example, the 2008 War in Lebanon, Israel went in with the objective of liquidating Hezbollah while Hezbollah’s objective was just to survive. Who won? Israel might have done the most damage but is lost because Hezbollah survived.
Another example, the 1939 Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union. Folklore has it that Finland won because of the massive casualties the Soviet Union suffered at the beginning, but the reality is that the Red Army changed it’s methods and forced Finland to surrender to Stalin’s demands. Finland would have been better negotiating with Stalin as eventually the Soviet Union received more land than Stalin requested before the war started.
Ghost Ship says
The Russians and revenge – As far as I can make out Russia achieving its political objectives and winning is enough revenge. Taking revenge can result in not achieving your political objectives and losing.
The Su-24 Turkey shot down over Syria after it had passed through Turkish airspace was an over reaction by Turkey but Russia took no obvious revenge so NATO’s Article 5 never came into play. If Putin, as is most likely, survives the Ukraine operation, Syria will be made whole again and Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman dreams will disappear into the sands of time.
Robert E Hoffman says
Larry, I believe the article linked that discusses URGENT FURY is not entirely accurate; in that 2nd BN/8th Marine Regt was the element that had relieved the SEALs at the Governor’s compound. Those Marines were not Force Reconnaissance, although nonetheless formidable. Composed of 13 x AMTRAC, and 5 x Tank from GOLF Co. eventually linked up with FOX Co., which then progressed forward to the governor’s mansion to relive the SEAL platoon.
Larry Johnson says
Thanks for the correction.
Robert E Hoffman says
Not your fault for certain. I find it interesting that the Navy SEAL Museum website would not attempt to verify that information. Now it may be that they are in possession of information that I can’t find: that Force Recon was on-board the AMTRACs, with the 2nd Bn, and that’s not out of the realm of possibility. I just have not seen data to corroborate.
Manuel Verdugo says
Que tanto una nacion libre, democratica y soberana necesita unas fuerzas especiales? Las fuerzas especiales de USA, cuantas incursiones legitimas , reales se hicieron para salvaguardar los verdaderos valores de su nacion. Casi estoy 100% seguro que solo han sido personas utilizadas en operaciones mercenarias y casi siempre en contra de los valores democraticos. Tambien estoy seguro que ellos lo saben.