Conventional wisdom claims the aphorism, “You can’t polish a turd,” came from sailors who were given an impossible task of trying to shine something that was dull and slippery. Someone needs to get word to General Milley about this truth. Milley, along with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, engaged in some world class “turd” polishing today (Thursday) as they briefed reporters on the results of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in Brussels.
The problem with the NATO plan for Ukraine’s faltering offensive is encapsulated in the following quote (it starts at the 8:51 mark in the video below):
More than six thousand Ukrainians are being trained right now at 40 different locations (sic) training locations in 65 courses in 33 Nations on three continents. That is all happening right now today
Let me give you some facts. If you join the U.S. Army and want to learn to crew a M1 Abram tank, you are looking at a minimum of 6 months training. And that is just learning how drive the tank and fire shells. But that is only the beginning. Soldiers are not given their own personal tank to tool around the base. Once a soldier and his crew learn how to start, steer, shoot and stop, the team must then learn how to operate in a coordinated fashion with a company (150 soldiers ), a battalion (800 to 1000 soldiers), a brigade (5000 soldiers) and a Division (10,000 to 15,000 soldiers).
Instruction starts with the simple and proceeds to the complex. Effectively operating a tank as part of a Division is the most complicated task and mission. Guess what? To learn to do this requires at least two years of training. There are no shortcuts. I spoke the other day with a young Army Captain who remarked how difficult it was to train U.S. troops to carry out brigade level tank maneuvers even after two years of training.
With that as background do you now appreciate the stupidity of Milley’s comment? The Ukrainians are not being taken to one location in one country and asked to master two or three courses of instruction. Nope. They are in 40 different locations in 33 different countries and 6000 Ukrainian troops are being fed a firehose of 65 courses. Do the math. That works out to about 93 soldiers per course. And the instructors most likely do not speak Ukrainian, so the soldiers are getting translated lessons in English, French, German, Polish and Italian. This is a veritable tower of Babel.
So let’s entertain the assumption that these 6000 souls are really fast learners and magically complete the training. How do you integrate 6000 soldiers that have been in 33 countries and being trained to different standards? Short answer — you don’t. It is impossible.
But then consider this. During just one week of combat against Russian forces, the Ukrainians lost 7500 men (killed and wounded). All of those trained soldiers erased in the flash of an artillery shell, a mortar or a glide bomb. Again, do the math. If Ukraine is losing 6000 men a week, then the training pipeline better have at least 80,000 Ukrainians attending these courses. Otherwise, NATO training cannot keep pace with Ukrainian casualties.
What we are witnessing is military malpractice on a colossal scale. I find it hard to believe that Milley, Austin and their NATO compatriots are really this stupid in touting this training regimen as something responsible and wise. It is madness. The cynical part of me believes that Ukraine is just being used as a pretext to juice the Western defense industries. After years of neglect and outsourcing, the U.S. and its NATO partners have discovered that they no longer have the factories and materials necessary to supply an industrial scale war.
The hard truth it this — Ukraine does not have the manpower and NATO does not have the luxury of time required to ensure the Ukrainian soldiers have minimal levels of competence in the military arts they are trying to learn in a veritable crash course. Keep this in mind as Russian grinds the Ukrainian Army into dust. All of that money for training men whose life expectancy is counted in weeks, if not days. Who will be held accountable?
I want to end on an upbeat note. The following should put a smile on your face: