Some Damn Fool Thing in Ukraine
history is sticky, can't stop, won't stop
Over the weekend, I hope this slide got your attention.
As an old Operational Planner who just can’t quit the game, it got mine.
The U.S. has shared intelligence including maps with European allies that shows a buildup of Russian troops and artillery to prepare for a rapid, large-scale push into Ukraine from multiple locations if President Vladimir Putin decided to invade, according to people familiar with the conversations.
That intelligence has been conveyed to some NATO members over the past week to back up U.S. concerns about Putin’s possible intentions and an increasingly frantic diplomatic effort to deter him from any incursion, with European leaders engaging directly with the Russian president. The diplomacy is informed by an American assessment that Putin could be weighing an invasion early next year as his troops again mass near the border.
The information lays out a scenario where troops would cross into Ukraine from Crimea, the Russian border and via Belarus, with about 100 battalion tactical groups -- potentially around 100,000 soldiers -- deployed for what the people described as an operation in rough terrain and freezing conditions, covering extensive territory and prepared for a potentially prolonged occupation.
It is best to ignore the two camps on either side of this issue; one camp “nothing to worry about” and the other is “war at any moment.” No, not quite.
Remember, Russia is not a rich or powerful nation anymore – but she is not weak. She has a stronger and better military than she did 10-yrs ago. One should never over-estimate or under-estimate Russia – nor try to look at her as you would a Western nation. She is Russia – a distinct people and culture with her own motivations.
She’s positioned 100,000 military personnel along a traditional invasion front for a reason.
Math is math. Long-dwell deployments like this are not cheap either in money or readiness. They are not done on a whim for such long periods with this many people.
If you’re asking for a quick-look (as in I have 30-min to pound this out and get back to the paying gig) to start a further investigation, here is how I open the discussion: this is not an exercise, this is something more. It is clear that there is a Higher Direction and Guidance (D&G) to the military to “prepare for the possibility of …” and the “…” could be a variety of different events. Let’s start with Sal’s “Red Most Likely” and “Red Most Dangerous” Courses of Action (COA). “We” in the below is the Russian Federation.
As always, I need to establish the first five Planning Assumptions:
Planning Assumption 1: NATO will not credibly oppose any actions we may take along the spectrum of conflict as long as our actions are limited to the territory of Ukraine.
Planning Assumption 2: EU will not credibly oppose any actions we may take along the spectrum of conflict as long as our actions are limited to the territory of Ukraine.
Planning Assumption 3: UN will not credibly oppose any actions we may take along the spectrum of conflict as long as our actions are limited to the territory of Ukraine.
Planning Assumption 4: USA, alone or with a small group of allied nations, will not credibly oppose any actions we may take along the spectrum of conflict as long as our actions are limited to the territory of Ukraine.
Planning Assumption 5: No other medium sized power, or combination of medium sized powers, will credibly oppose any actions we may take along the spectrum of conflict as long as our actions are limited to the territory of Ukraine.
(NB: I only have 30-min here, so I am skipping A LOT of steps, but hey – I’m just one guy)
Red Most Likely COA: Create a credible invasion force to pressure and destabilize the Ukrainian government to create a series desired effects – outlined in a more in-depth planning briefing – that leads to negotiations to finalize the status of Crimea and Donbass to the benefit of the Russian Federation.
Red Most Dangerous COA: Full invasion and military occupation of Donbas leading to negotiations with the Ukrainian government to finalize the status of Crimea and Donbas to the benefit of the Russian Federation. If negotiations are not agreed to in an adequately short period of time after forces occupy Donbas, execute approved Sequel Plan A to invade and occupy all of Ukrainian territory and dictate terms unconditionally on the Ukrainian government.
A few points to remember;
- We don’t know what Putin’s Higher Direction and Guidance is – at least in open source. What we do know is that Putin is 69. If he wants to be the man of Russian history that he seems to want to be, and enjoy it, he does not have all that much time left to do it.
- The USA is distracted and after the Afghanistan humiliation on its heels, suffering under its weakest leadership since the late 1970s.
- Germany is supine, is run by a fragile and passivist coalition, and is increasingly reliant on the Russian Federation for her future energy requirements.
- France and the UK are too far away, weak, and distracted elsewhere.
- Turkey is distracted elsewhere and unable.
- The People’s Republic of China is not concerned with any action the Russians may take in Eastern Europe.
Russians are not shy about winter offensives.
What times we live in … what times we live in.
Pray for peace.