37 thoughts on “Russia’s Debacle”

  1. All service branches are cutting the size of their active forces because they can’t meet recruiting goals. American youth, and especially their veteran parents, have beheld the new woke military and its incompetent leadership and want nothing to do with it.

    Hopefully things in DC will change before the damage becomes irreversible.

    1. Young men unsure of what they were going to do in life once upon a time would often give the military a try, now they stay at home playing video games in moms basement collecting a check from Uncle Sam. That’s the “Great Society” LBJ’s expansion of the welfare state has given us.

      1. Those have been a constant. What’s changed this year is that the ones who did want to step up to prove themselves aren’t on board with “transgendered” officers telling them they’re evil white sexist homophobic racists who must be constantly monitored for evidence of toxic masculinity.

        1. It is a dangerous trend for a number of reasons and while I think Democrats prefer families with generations of service send their kids to get brainwashed, they are also happy to break the chain and reduce the pool to people more open to their ideology.

      2. I’d sure like to know where they get that check from. Care to share the name of the program that distributes free money to adolescents? The video games and living off of clueless parents I won’t question, but there aren’t many places handing out money to healthy young people..

        1. They aren’t necessarily healthy. Many of them are obese, even morbidly so.

          In fact, before the military went woke, one of the biggest reasons for turning away would-be recruits was obesity.

  2. Failure is the best teacher but what is failure?

    We can all look at pictures from Ukrainian propaganda of destroyed Russian equipment, there are lots. War porn is addictive but it doesn’t give us the whole story, it is just a snap shot. What I see are people talking about is cost and conflating that with failure. The objectives Putin set out to accomplish determine success/failure and we don’t know what those are. We just speculate and know the cost is high.

  3. The US military has problems that are growing, but I think its capabilities are proven enough to not be called a myth. Our leaders being leaders is a myth but not the capability.

      1. Sure thing, since usually it is you making things more concise.

        The thought in my head while composing that was the scene in “The Caine Mutiny”, when the budding mutineers go to Admiral Halsey’s flagship, and realize what professionalism looks like. Today, our Littoral Combat Ship fighting capability probably is a myth, but I wouldn’t say the same thing about our carriers and Aegis cruisers and destroyers. The F-35 isn’t ideal, but they can be fielded in battle and protected by F-22s and F-15s. A-10s, F-16s, and F-18s are all very potent. So is the M1A2 Abrams. The Ukraine has proven the potency of US Javelin systems.

        Still, Afghanistan was a clusterf*ck that I would love to blame solely on Biden, but there are a few of our military leaders that signed off and ordered the execution of that crap withdrawal.

        1. “Today, our Littoral Combat Ship fighting capability probably is a myth…”

          Yes, that’s probably true. But still, they are much more capable than our Figurative Combat Ship fleet.

        2. Like I said before the US should have left Afghanistan after Osama bin Laden was dead. That was the stated mission objective for going there in the first place. Once that was achieved there was little point in staying there.

  4. The military myths are interesting. We have myths about conventional stuff and secret weapons. The performance of Russia’s conventional military equipment on display have not been great but aside from survivability from manpads, is easily fixable through competent leadership.

    I could be wrong here but to me it looks like a lot of Russia’s failures haven’t been from their tech not working but because their stuff breaks. Aside from locomotion, are Russian weapon systems breaking down? What is the Russian myth on secret weapons, that their nukes will all work and be accurate? They were never mythologically technologically advanced. The myth was ruthless, numerous, brute, tough, competent, and good air defense.

    Conventional myths for us? This just make us look better, same with the Taliban. We are operationally superb. All sides also try and kit their troops out the same way we do, aside from the AK’s, so everyone emulates our success. Secret weapon myths? Everyone wonders if the barrel is dry and if anything being worked on could be made operational. I don’t see functionality and maintenance for nukes as an issue right now, but as time goes on, doubt grows.

    It is pretty clear the USA military would dust Russia’s. Even with GWOT, we still have the capability/training to take on a conventional force. The question is how would the USA do going up against our own weapons or the weapons from our allies? How would our tanks do against NLAWs? Does this break a myth?

    The invincibility of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan is a myth that was broken. I think that is an important take away from this war but the most important take away is that Russia failures are leadership failures and that our current crop of military leaders are incompetents. No matter how well our troops and equipment perform, they can’t counter bad leaders with bad ideas. It didn’t take Russia to burst the myth of competent American military leadership. Our military did that.

    We always face technological threats and we are well suited to adapt given the time. We have never faced the crisis in leadership that we have now. The same thing wrong with the military is the same thing wrong with our education system.

    1. If Trent Telenko’s right, a lot of the breakage is due to failures of basic maintenance. Which is what you’d expect if you’re military is cash strapped and relies heavily on conscripts.

      1. Or pocketing the difference between good equipment and bad – what you’d expect if your military is being run by a crony. The US is very vulnerable to that sort of corruption.

        1. When it comes to the Russian military, I’d go with a bit of both. With our equipment, we’re at least getting what we asked for. It costs too much because procurement incentivizes everyone to pad expenses. We’re just sneaker about pocketing the difference.

          1. I can think of several cases where we didn’t get what we asked for: Seawolf class submarine, F-35, Stryker ATV, and that company back in 2002 that made all of the small arms ammunition.

  5. Given the level of propaganda and outright lies, how can we even be sure these images are destroyed Russian equipment? Don’t the Ukrainians have mostly the same stuff? Be pretty outrageous if they show their own stuff blown up and claim it’s Russian.

    1. I’ve often wondered this myself. When the machinery on both sides is the same. Everything with a grain of salt.

      Ukraine has shown remarkable resilience in the face of what were presumed overwhelming odds. But I urge caution on Ukrainian counter-attacks into Russia. I would not take this too far. You may think Russian nukes are crap and probably some are. But it only takes one to ruin your day and a lot of other EU types as well. Putin’s parting gift to the world…

      To those who think the CIA has Ukraine on a leash, you ever try to separate two dogs fighting even if you have a leash on one of them? It ain’t fun….

    2. There is a lot of broken down or destroyed Russian equipment in those pictures. But some cannot be positively identified for sure.
      Ukraine did have 2000 tanks and a crapton of ATGMs. So it is not like Russia just went in for a walk in the park. Still most of the initial losses looked more like broken down vehicles due to mechanical failure. And later we got pictures of burn down tanks which were quite often tanks the Ukrainians burned that had broken down before. Only more recently, like last month, did images of destroyed Russian tanks start showing up. But some of the tanks they claim as Russian aren’t identifiable as such, in my opinion, since both operate them. Examples would be the T-72A or the T-72B. Both of them have those tanks. And on the Russian side most of those vehicles are actually being manned by pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists rather than the Russian Army.

  6. Correct me if I’m wrong. Russia vs. U.S.: Russia’s is a top-down command structure. Generals and Colonel’s call the shots for the grunts.

    U.S.’s grunts are led by non-commissioned officers. Woke commissioned officers are just as likely to be ‘fragged’, as happened in Viet Nam. (The Russian soldier who ran his tracked vehicle over his commanding officer.)

    Woke don’t mean “safe”.

  7. Debacle? We don’t know Putin’s goals. We don’t know his inner-most thoughts, nor the thoughts and wants of those around him. War is messy. And it is unpredictable. The Soviets lost a lot in Afghanistan. So did we. Did either succeed? Is Putin sick, dying, or playing chess? Until the dust settles, these are all guesses with very little to back them up. But the guesses are fun to watch.

  8. New term of art: The Progressive/Neocon Axis of Evil. I don’t know if it’s new, but I thought of it the other day, in the context of trying to understand what’s really happening viz. the US, NATO, Ukraine, and Russia (and knowing most news reports are either Progressive or Neocon controlled [or quote one of the combatant’s propaganda]).

    What we know, a priori, is that the Neocon fantasies about Russia’s “hollowed-out industries” and “Potemkin space program” are observably false. The R-7 factory has kept on churning out Soyuz 2.1a, b, and v, and until just now ST-A and -B launch vehicles. The Progress/Soyuz MS factory has kept churning out spacecraft. We also know that Russian engines are better than any other, as they seldom fail, with evidence including the hunreds of superior engines sold to the US for Atlas V and Antares. We also know that Proton has always been a crappy rocket, and the limping along Angara program is not limping any worse than the limping-along Artemis program. When Russian rockets fail, it’s almost always due to field assembly errors, which is the same reason chips are always crushed in the bag, despite nitrogen fluffing: the chip stocker smashes them.

    So that being the case, what’s the problem in Ukraine? Well, for starters, the US supplied Ukraine with a billion dollars worth of missiles speficially designed to shoot down Russian aircraft, sink Russian ships, and destroy Russian tanks. All that proves is, our missiles work. The question it raises is, how in the world did such a weapons transfer get through what I thought was a Progressive-dominated Congress? Whence the new term of art mentioned above. I’ve been making fun of Blinken (a Neocon), Nod (a senile boob), and Thoroughly Modern Milley (a Progressive Unicorn General), but, y’know… they’re getting away with it, so far.

    Then there’s the non-functional Russian equipment: Well, the missiles take care of much of it, but we also have the story of Russian troops complaining they’re armed with WW2 era rifles that don’t even shoot. Which makes me, wonder: did the soldiers not get their weapons until invasion day? Did they not ever practice with them? Wouldn’t somebody have noticed they didn’t shoot? What did the Russian Army do before that, pick up trash by the side of the road? Horrifically, this sort of thing I see being used by Neocons to suggest the Russians nuclear weapons and delivery systems will fail, come Armageddon. I don’t care if they bet their own lives on it, but I’d prefer they not bet what little is left of mine.

    Maybe what’s happening with the Russian Army in Ukraine is exactly what you’d expect in a maximally corrupt supply chain. The rifles get made, but then are siphoned off by this one and that one, and sold to private buyers. Where are they now? Somalia? Paraguay? Montana? Then, one fine day, some colonel phones and says, “We’re invading Ukraine! Get out the rifles!” And the supply chain guys realize they sold them all. “What’ll we do, Igor?” “Well, Svetlana, there’s 15 million rifles were packed in grease 70 years ago over there…” Let’s hope nothing like that’s happened in *our* military-industrial complex. How many missiles does a billion dollars represent? How many did we have in the first place? Oy.

    1. The progressive/neocon plan went awry when Zelensky refused to flee Kiev and let Putin take over. That was our plan A. Now they’re just making it up as they go, trying to make sure Ukraine doesn’t really win while hoping nobody notices that that is our plan B.

      I think most of the DC establishment would rather manage a long-term issue than eliminate it with quick and clear victory, as we saw with Obama saying that the fight against ISIS in Syria would be a “multi-generational conflict” for us.

      What we’re seeing from the Russian forces in Ukraine is a Potemkin, maximally corrupt military, just as it’s always been. The recruits serve one year and they don’t have a professional NCO corps. The officers are reportedly selected to be not real bright so they don’t present a threat to the party or the powers-that-be in state security. Like Saddam’s army, winning generals are a potential threat to the regime, so they try to avoid creating those.

      1. The Neo-con plan is to induce Russia to join NATO and be equipped with American arms to resist China.

        Think about it. Russia and Ukraine were long parts of the Soviet Union. In Soviet and then post-Soviet break-up times, equipped with the same tanks and fighter jets, reading from the same playbook regarding military operations?

        Then post 2014 and the Ukrainian US neo-con led revolution, the Ukrainians are equipped with US gear, training according to US doctrine.

        This is a plot, I say, to get the Russian Federation to Buy American?

      2. I wish people would stop misusing the word Potemkin. Grigori Potemkin was a contemporary of George Washington! And a Potemkin army would be a troop of actors hired for a parade, armed with wooden rifles and plastic bayonets. Better still, a Potemkin space program is exactly what the “Apollo was faked” crowd are saying, a space program done on a sound stage. The Russian Army, whatever its flaws, is a real army, and the three Russians aboard ISS rode up in a real Soyuz MS, flying on a real Soyuz 2.1a. Ignoring that is not clever.

        1. Meh. I think most of us know where the term “Potemkin Villages” come from. But the word has pretty much come to mean “a thing that has been deliberately made to look much better than it is” so I’d leave it at that unless you want to be pedantic.

      3. “The progressive/neocon plan went awry when Zelensky refused to flee Kiev and let Putin take over. ”

        Yeah, the West sent manpads but along with a note to look for peace. This is the typical Western thing to do and in some ways, is very rational for our interests but as many Ukrainians have said, “Don’t tell me to stop fighting for my home. I live here.”

        I think Putin is counting on this as a negotiated settlement allows him to keep parts of Ukraine.

        Reportedly, Russia had a bad past few days and could be looking for a settlement soon. Would the West bully Ukraine into making a deal or would we support prosecuting the war into Crimea and the other previously contested regions? What about a punitive expedition into Russia for some tit for tat atrocities?

        I want to see Ukraine take back their territory but in such a way grudges are about compensation owed rather than land and atrocities. It is important that Ukraine take back what is theirs. That wouldn’t mean Russia would covet those lands less but perhaps the civilizational hatred wont be as bad.

  9. I see a lot of mistaken comments here. Russia’s army is 2/3rds professional paid soldiers and 1/3rd conscripts. If you take the officers into account then the amount of conscripts in their armed forces is more like 25%.
    With regards to war goals, Putin made those clear in his speech. The de-nazification and de-militarization of Ukraine. i.e. the destruction of any heavy equipment, production and repair facilities, and the purge of right-winged paramilitaries from their armed forces.
    The Russians have had a lot of hardware failures and deficiencies but so far they have been dishing out more than they have suffered in manpower terms especially when you consider they are actually outnumbered in terms of manpower actually in the field.
    Of course they could have never achieved this without the air superiority they hold. Still consider what they have done with not even 200,000 troops in the field on a country which is larger than Iraq and was better equipped than Iraq and is still being supplied by NATO.

    1. Amateurs talk strategy and weapons. Professionals plan logistics. Russia cannot do logistics.


      1. Dumb!

        When I come up with my terminology for the InterDweebz, it was a fusion of the Laurel & Hardy and Three Stooges theories:

        Stan == simpleton
        Ollie == jackass
        Moe == asshole
        Larry == dumbass
        Curly == boob

        It has served me well!

        PS: and never mind about Shemp!

    2. Correct enough, although I have my doubts about the officer ratio. I’ve also seen conflicting data about NCOs. What it looks like to me is, have opened up with the bottom quintile of the infantry, equipped with junk, they’re now moving that all aside to make room for an upper echelon with real weapons (or not; who the fuck knows?). I bet some Russian military and logistics planners are drawing up their wills, and I wonder if those killed generals went to the front shouting, “Here, sniper, sniper!” I don’t know much about Russian insurance policies, but I bet “KIA” looks a lot better than “executed” or “blew his brains out.”

      1. From what I read under the Soviets the NCO was more a “warrant officer” than anything else. They were the long-term people that kept things running (clerks, cooks, machinists and the like) while the junior officers “micro-managed” the troops. The Soviets didn’t seem to want “command NCOs” like we have in the US.

        The question is how corrupt the Russian Army, isn’t it? The basic soldier is brave enough but what about the rest?

    3. I don’t buy either Putin’s pretexts for invasion (given how much he and his administration lied going in) or the assertion that the military gives better than it gets. For a glaring example, they don’t have air superiority. The Ukraine still flies an air force, and there’s all those manpads.

      Now, Russia has completely abandoned its strike on Kiev. I wonder what they left during the retreat?

      1. “For a glaring example, they don’t have air superiority. ”

        That is something to keep in mind with all of the boosterism for Ukraine. The signs are there that Russia isn’t doing well but the same is true for Ukraine. Granted recent developments are in their favor but over the course of this, we have seen Ukraine act as if they are getting their butts kicked while our media portrays something different.

        Russia doesn’t have air superiority and neither does Ukraine. Tides go in and out and who can say how the tides will turn over the coming months?

  10. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier, but my baby sister speaks fluent Russian, spent a lot of time in the USSR, was in Kiev at the time of Chernobyl, and knows lots of Russians. So I guess I should see if she knows anything.

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