The reason for Ukraine’s military failures — opinion

This is an analysis of what happened in Kharkiv Oblast in recent weeks.

The situation at the front is getting worse in many areas. The current situation is under control only thanks to mid-level commanders, junior officers, sergeants, and soldiers who take the initiative and to destroy Russian invaders, using the tactics of modern warfare. They make the most of their resources. The changes in Ukraine’s military at the tactical level, at the bottom, are taking place rapidly, while changes in tactics, understanding, and awareness of tactics at the highest level are very much lagging behind.

Because instead of post-operational analysis of all kinds of situations, our generals are used to shielding themselves from responsibility by any means necessary, including completely fabricated criminal cases, that ultimately end in nothing. Just as the previous criminal cases regarding other military failures ended in nothing.

A very serious wave of criticism is brewing in the army; it’s intensifying. Criticism of those decisions that don’t correspond to the situation. This is not about Khortytsia Operational Strategic Group Commander Yuriy Sodol personally, he’s not the only one. There are also Vasyl Zubanych, the former commander of the 10th Mountain Assault Brigade, Yevhen Moysyuk, the deputy of former Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi, and Artem Bohomolov, the commander of the 10th Army Corps of the Ground Forces. There are many generals like that—watchmen on the lookout for anyone who tries to get in. They monitor the map of held positions. They don’t understand that the war has changed.

Control of the map — who sits and where, and not frontline control, allows the enemy to concentrate an overwhelming force and overrun the positions our soldiers were ordered to hold.

Defense must be maneuverable. Soldiers and officers deployed at the front say as much. Unfortunately, the high command’s decisions don’t correspond to the situation in many cases.

Therefore, what bloggers and politicians say, conveying some details (they interpret them in their own way in their own interests) of the real criticism that exists in the army regarding the tactics of use, organization of troops, training, and equipment, all this is based on a completely different foundation.

Of course, I wouldn’t reduce the problem to just one person named Sodol, whose replacement will fix everything. The problem is systemic. The problem of watchmen generals comes from the fact that our military assesses its performance based on territory held. This is a big problem. Politicians should change the criteria they demand from the military. I believe this is the main problem in the war now.

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Who should be in charge. First of all, there should be different criteria for assessing the effectiveness of our forces, of the commanders on the ground. The destruction of the enemy and the preservation of personnel should be paramount. Territory, dots on a map are just tools, like ammunition, to best complete these tasks.

Our troops must be given tactical flexibility. The commanders who can best manage the battle, the chaos of war, should receive the most resources. As it stands, the less effective ones are given the most resources, on account of being favored by some generals, commanders, friends of friends, and politicians. That is, we lack a professional approach to managing the war on a large scale.

Therefore, we don’t scale the successful models of organized military units that we have, for example. Instead, we are still promoting ineffective approaches to warfighting. We lack a professional approach to war at all levels. And this most annoys those commanders, whose intelligence, endurance, character and blood we have the advantage in, who can hold the front and destroy the enemy.

After action analysis is required. Unfortunately, our army is organized inefficiently as an institution. If it were effective, we wouldn’t be raising money every day for Mavik drones and everything else that is urgently needed. There would be no need for many of the things that civilians do for the military today.

The army now exists because most of the people who serve there aren’t career soldiers. That’s why, of course, civil society should have questions for the army leadership. But style of criticism is very important.

What do I mean by style? We shouldn’t be attached to individuals in such a hierarchical structure as the military, or single out one individual for criticism. The army is an institution. Its conduct, as a whole, must be discussed.

There’s a specific subject: the failures during the [Russian] offensive on Kharkiv Oblast. It’s necessary to identify all those who participated in these events, who reported that everything was fine, and to assess their actions. Regardless of their names or ranks, just take who’s involved in this and analyze each. The leaders, not the soldiers who were sitting in the trenches/ Our soldiers are the same everywhere. If there’s management, means of destruction, organization of battle, intelligence, soldiers fight everywhere as they should. The problem is with management.

This management should be improved. But to improve, there’s no need to beat someone on the head with criminal cases among combat soldiers, but to realize, first of all at the level of the country’s top leadership, where did we go wrong? Why when Supreme Commander-in-Chief [President] Volodymyr Zelenskyy arrives on the battlefield, he is told that everything is fine, he says “well done, everything is fine,” shows photos and videos, and then there’s a failure? What didn’t he take into account? Why did he accept false reports? What did the people who reported to him do wrong? How to avoid this in the future? This is our main challenge in this war.

Read also: Ukraine has moved troops to the Russian border in Kharkiv Oblast to protect against a potential new advance

Not investigating a specific infantryman who fled from his designated position. Do you know for certain that happened? How can you prove it? Did you sit under that bombardment? You didn’t, so how do you know? Not a single SBI [State Bureau of Investigation] investigator, who is now investigating these cases, came within 10 kilometers of the front. The president has never sat in any trench under enemy attacks. Not a single general has held a wooded area under enemy bomb drops, drone strikes, high-precision weapons, and glide bombs. Therefore, the senior commanders must learn to analyze events properly. But they don’t. These criminal cases are a manifestation of this complete lack of awareness, which is the biggest threat to us now.

Yesterday I spoke with a soldier in a hospital in Kharkiv. He told me the story of how, after the SBI investigators arrived, the soldiers were ordered to fight to the death. And after they received this order, unfortunately, we lost one of the units in full. along with the position it held. Because the battle wasn’t organized, both the soldiers and the commanders were intimidated, no one retreated, but we lost our position along with the people. And only one person got out of there because he was wounded in close combat.

Because it’s not enough to tell people to “fight to the death.” Any order in the military must be resourced, supported, and organized in service of the goal of destroying the enemy and preserving the personnel.

If you fight to the death, you lose everything, both people and territory. You cannot defeat the enemy that way. And wars aren’t won with criminal cases, otherwise the SBI investigators would be appointed to lead the troops. But this doesn’t happen, because it’s completely absurd.

Therefore, I call on the country’s leadership to scrutinize their planning, the orders they give, and the reports they receive. Because this was the cause of the failure in the defense of Kharkiv Oblast. And it had nothing to do with some soldiers retreating from several trenches. They had to leave because of objective conditions, including management, organization, and supply. That’s the point.

People who sit at the front under bombs, under shelling, are 100% motivated. Those who wanted to dodge the draft, they did it long ago and swam across the Tysa River [on the border with Romania]. But those who sit in the trenches for months under shelling are people who can be made into good fighters, or who already are good fighters. But if there’s no quality management, the fighter will be demoralized and won’t be able to complete the task. This is what happened in Kharkiv Oblast.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine