Article suggests lessons to be learned from Ukraine conflict

| June 13, 2023

My oldest friend sent me a link to an MSN article in which the authors pontificate on the lessons we should take note of from the Ukraine conflict. It’s  not a quickie, so I’ll summarize:

Mass matters. Attrition warfare is not dead. This mode of warfare emerges when neither side can achieve a clear asymmetric advantage. Standing armies are the only instrument nations can use to prevent, deter, and fight invading aggressors. Mass is required in a war of attrition. Funding and maintaining land power may seem like an expensive insurance policy but doing the opposite is to risk state collapse. Wars can only be won on the ground where nations exist, and people live.

Remember when Heinlein said that you only really HOLD territory when some pimple-faced kid with a rifle is standing on it?

Maritime operations are vulnerable. Expensive naval forces are threatened by inexpensive weaponry. Ukrainian attacks have minimized the impact of the Russian Black Sea fleet and little by little the Russian Navy drifted further back toward the mainland.

Maritime forces DONE RIGHT – trained, adequately protected – enable force projection like no feasible air force can offer. Smoky, poorly maintained, conscript manned junk? Yeah, they are in trouble.

Deep attacks are ineffective.There is a desire to employ rotary attack aircraft – and to some extent, fixed-wing aircraft – deep behind enemy lines for strategic effect. In Ukraine, soldiers operating short range anti-aircraft defensive equipment and using small arms fire, have been taking out multi-million-dollar aircraft. Control of the air remains contested and this will be a continual feature of future conflict.

They suggest the West needs to develop drones/counter drones and says “synergistic integration” has proven effective. Think we have called this  “Combined Arms” for  about 75 years.

Airborne and amphibious warfare has been minimized. These modes of warfare have their place in specialized units but the conduct of these methods at a large-scale, using thousands of soldiers and marines, is resource intensive, high risk, and perhaps even anachronistic.

Too risky, too hard, and anyone trying it will be blown  out of the ether or water, whichever is appropriate.

Artificial intelligence has arrived.  It has been said that advanced algorithmic warfare systems equate to having a nuclear weapon. Ukrainian forces have compressed their “kill chains,” and used software engineers on the frontlines to calibrate algorithms for devastating effect.

1945 via MSN, all

AI is worth a nuke? Our new gee-whiz tech will replace marines and grunts? Perhaps another line of thought is “what happens if you throw billions of dollars in support and ammo resupply to a surrogate?” We learned that in ’73…at least  we’re on the smarter side of the equation this time, albeit possibly temporarily. Their suggestions make limited sense – for Ukraine – but what happens when the focus is, say, Taiwan?

Reminds me of a conversation with an MI Major (later General) Claudia Kennedy who complained of being the range officer … said all future wars would be push-button  and rifles were outmoded. Satellites would replace them. Think the Desert Storm and OIF guys would disagree.

H/T to my old squad leader Bill when I was a young PFC fresh outta LostintheWoods.

Category: Air Force, Army, Bloggers, Marines, Navy, Russia, Ukraine

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This MSN author is no von Clausewitz. They won’t be reading his works 200 years later.
A soldier that lived and fought in days of Napoleon with horses, cannons, rifles and bayonets knows more than whoever wrote this article. Just sayin’.


MSN is an aggregator. The author works for 1945.

Veritas Omnia Vincit

The authors aren’t wrong about the idea of mass, a decided lack of mass over the last twenty years is precisely why the United States could not impose its will in Afghanistan…the failure to achieve any useful outcome is an endorsement of the authors’ point regarding mass and attrition.

They might not be correct on every point they make, but mass as the number one concern is about as accurate an observation on modern militaries as anyone can make these days. All the tech in the world doesn’t matter if you can’t hold the ground you occupy, tech supports mass but mass is the main component of any successful operation.

Asymmetrical advantages only work when the occupiers fail to commit enough mass to simply overwhelm the guerillas…

A failure to commit mass is why we have a nation at all…

Just An Old Dog

It’s all about that Mass… To TRUELY win a war you need to commit to having a large portion of your population able/ willing to not only pick up a rifle and defeat the enemy in the field, the same force needs to occupy and root out/ destroy any visage of the regime that we were fighting.


Not to mention:
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Neither side could achieve sustained air dominance, which would be needed to efficiently destroy armor, artillery, anti-armor, anti-aircraft and anti-ship systems, and other weapon systems. Naturally, both sides had to resort to artillery and armor. NATO militaries generally have robust air and naval capabilities while Russia and other countries generally have robust armor and artillery capabilities. 


A lot to unpack there. AI was brought to the battlefield back in 1990 with the Patriot missile system. Today it does a better job, much faster than any human could. It isn’t new but it became a lot more important because the Ukrainians don’t have an Air Force.

The Russians completely wasted their air power advantage. As of today, the Ukrainians have shot down 1/3 of their helicopter fleet and 1/5 of their fixed wing fleet, More than 600 total aircraft. They’ve also lost hundreds of drones, possibly thousands, nobody knows. They wasted huge quantities of munitions shooting at civilian targets of no consequence. Had they massed their air power early and effectively, and prevented the infiltration of stingers, the war would probably already be over. They’ve already lost way more aircraft in the Ukraine than they did in 10 years in Afghanistan. Their lack of control of the skies by a country that started the war with 3,000 combat aircraft on paper should go down in history as the worst run air campaign of all time.

I would say that the Navy campaign could rival it. However, the Russian Navy was set up to defend against the US Navy and not to support troops on the ground.

The Russians made great use of special operations airborne forces early in the war, during the initial invasion. And then hung them out to dry, completely unsupported. Cuz of that they were massacred. This was because the actual war plan was s***. It isn’t easy to make new special operators.

Great leadership can overcome a lot of things. Bad leadership ensures failure every time. For the first 3 months of the war, nobody was in charge. There was no theater commander, there were no central planners, everything ran through Putin. Putin has zero tactical and strategic operational experience and it showed badly. Practically every part of the plan was terrible. He then handed the s*** sandwich off to a series of incompetent commanders.


Because the Russian Navy in general and the Black Sea Fleet in particular was designed to defend against the US, they have been a no-show to the conflict. The few times they did show up, went poorly.

Amphibious assaults only make sense, where they make sense. There hasn’t been any place here that would make sense. Without control of the skies, you are simply asking to get destroyed.

The Ukraine is conducting the first large scale attack without supporting air power, against a major power, since WWI. It’s the closest thing to trench warfare we’ve seen since that conflict. We have given them bits and pieces of technology that are all supposed to work together in a greater universe. They are missing many many parts of that universe. Because of this they will likely see very limited success.


The Black Sea Fleet hasn’t exactly covered itself with glory, but it hasn’t been a no-show either.
Artificial reef:

moskva cg.jpg

Guerrilla conflict maybe preferable to second place in a combined arms conflict? For pretty much all the reasons?

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Old tanker

There was an article on yahoo yesterday that indicated the state department was quietly evacuation Americans from Taiwan and that a chinese invasion was all but imminent.

I can see that as another article also said that articles of impeachment were just filed on bot biden and harris yesterday as well. That indicates an even more indecisive administration (as if that were possible) is all that is holding china back.


There was no article stating that the US is evacuating Americans from Taiwan. There are a number of articles stating that the US is making plans to evacuate Americans from Taiwan just in case an evacuation needs to happen. Chinese invasion was always going to happen, but only on China’s timeline.

I think the Chinese might see the noose tightening around Biden from all of his corruption schemes. With him going and Harris moving into the executive, things are likely to get spicy. With Biden’s huge unpopularity pretty much anything he does, is poison. When Desamtis or whoever takes the White House, that would make things harder.

They also don’t like that all the regional powers are getting spun up. Absolutely nobody trusts China at this point. Their treatment of Hong Kong shows that nobody wants to be ruled by them either.

The only real wild card left on the table is India. Whatever they do, even if they do nothing, involves a level of risk. By and large they are very peaceful country. They are the sleeping giant of the 21st century.

Last edited 5 months ago by 5JC

Chicoms gonna Chicom, just a question of when.
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Last edited 5 months ago by Anonymous
USMC Steve

At this point. leaving the presidency unoccupied could hardly be any worse, and would likely be better for all involved.


None Of The Above

For President!

Drag Racing Maniac

Sweet Meteor of Death is an option, just sayin’


Well, Russkies are threatening to nuke everything over Ukraine now:


Great movie…

Veritas Omnia Vincit

Anyone thinking attrition was no longer the number one concern has to be thinking only in terms of a nuclear conflict where MAD remains the most likely outcome. Mass can overcome asymmetrical advantage as well, but it requires a commitment of power in overwhelming numbers which most nations these days can’t support. Which is why so many “forward thinkers” are considering what can be done with their very limited resources…our all volunteer army dwindles before our eyes and our biggest concern still remains what new tech toys can be used instead which is an exercise doomed to failure. No nation can survive a massive conflict where less than 1% of the population is engaged in the conflict…if the last 20 years have failed to drive that lesson home one might argue successfully there’s no chance of driving that lesson home ever…multiple deployments, stop-loss, and a host of other desperate retention measures reveal the depth of our lack of mass whether we like that reality or not. The truth is we don’t have the personnel for the mass required as the authors of this article define mass…we can’t win a war of attrition right now under any circumstance. We spent twenty years failing to commit enough mass to achieve an outcome favorable to the United States in Afghanistan, our end result for all our dead, all our equipment, and all our money invested in that conflict was to replace the Taliban with a better armed version of the Taliban. There’s no spinning that into a win of any sort, it was a massive failure on every level.

We shall see if anyone learns anything from Afghanistan or Ukraine. Right now there’s no reason to think the decision makers have learned anything from any conflict in the last 70 years.


I don’t want to downplay the loss of human life. But our losses in Afghanistan were paltry compared to Russia’s losses in the Ukraine.

There’s absolutely no good reason that we spent 20 years in Afghanistan. Not a single one.

However, I will say that if the US goes to war with China over Taiwan, It will make the Ukraine War look like a church picnic. Our leadership can’t make any reasonable argument to go to war with China over Taiwan either.

I have a plan for peace.

I say we move all 24 million people from Taiwan to the United States, and bring with them all the resources that they have accumulated. They will all end up coming here anyway let’s just get ahead of this thing. We give them all US citizenship.

We then turn Taiwan into a huge penal colony, fentanyl factory and marijuana farm. We ship all of our druggies, pot heads and criminals there. The communist countries have been shipping us their criminals for years. We then hand over the whole country to China.

This is nothing but win. China still gets a population to oppress. They get Taiwan. Those idiots won’t even know that they are slaves. Crime rates will plummet. Nobody has to die in a war. We greatly increase our population of hard-working people and get rid of most of the useless freeloaders. I fail see any problem for this plan.

President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

Don’t forget the illegals.
All the illegals, from anywhere/everywhere, as soon as they cross the border and are scooped up by the border patrol, is immediately airlifted over to Taiwan.
Ditto for all the illegals that are already in the US. As soon as they’re caught on whatever charges, send ’em to Taiwan.
Do not pass GO, do not collect $200.

IDK, the ones that are actually from South of the Border get jobs here before they do anything else. They build stuff and do a pretty decent job of it. The Romanians, Russians and host of others from every country on Earth that run across the Southern Border are less inclined. We ship the rest all to Taiwan.


The Progs will never allow it. They will use the courts to stop your plan to remove their core supporters.


The Ukrainian leadership knows the key to winning this war is about undermining the Putin regime. This war ends when the Putin regime collapses.

This means not giving Putin any symbolic wins.

Which leads to a war of attrition where both sides fight for months over a relatively operationally unimportant city. At least not important enough to justify the losses for either side.

Holding Bakhmut, despite the cost to the Ukrainians, was a strategic win. Once Bakmut became a political symbol, Ukraine made the strategic calculus that it had to be held. It prevented Putin from having any symbolic gains and largely fixed the Russian army in place.

While the losses in Bakhmut were mathematically favorable to Ukraine, Russians losses were 5X to 7X Ukrainian losses..,Ukraine could not afford those losses. They paid the cost for strategic reasons, not because of the operational value of that calculus.

Ukrainians don’t want to fight a war of attrition. They can’t win a war of attrition. They were forced to fight a battle of attrition because of the strategic value of preventing the Putin regime from getting any major wins during their offensive.

Now that the Putin regime has failed to have any major gains for months, and is facing the daily loss of territory now that the Ukranian offensive has begun.., we will see if the strategic calculus payed off.

The Putin regime is now weaker that ever. Russian for the war continues to decline. Morale in the Russian army is abysmal. And the failure to accomplish any major wins has widened the schism between Putin and the Russian military, between Putin and Wagner, and between Wagner and the Russian military.


“This war ends when the Putin regime collapses.”

I really want to believe that. No, it’s not sarcasm.


Nobody wants to fight a war of attrition. They were forced to fight a war of attrition because of artificial constraints put on them by the Biden administration. Even by proxy they are running it like Vietnam. If they had an option, It would make a hell of a lot more sense to, penetrate the line and drive to Moscow or get in behind the lines and attack from the rear and cut them off and destroy them. That would involve taking Russian territory, which in some areas, is as wide open as can be.

But button will not let them go to Russian territory. And because they can’t go into Russian territory, the Russians have focused all their efforts in maintaining their gains. The Ukrainians are forced to make bad tactical decisions based upon the political situation imposed upon them. It’s the price they have to pay for practically unlimited munitions.

So they drive through minefields instead of around them. The slaughter continues unabated. Because of all the constraints the whole thing is stupid pants now.

Undermining Putin? The world’s richest man? The man that controls all of the media in his own country? Everyday some journalist with a sharp pencil writes an article about how poop is going down, from within, a takeover. Sometimes they even identify some poor schmuck to take his place. Then, a couple of days later there’s an article about schmuck’s unfortunate end. Suicide after jumping off of a rather tall place. Any day now sure, sure.


Putin is not as strong as you think he is.

He fears for his life nearly every moment at this point.

And he should.

His regime will not outlast this war, unless he withdraws. And then then I still think his regime is doomed.

Putin’s corruption stole the future of his country. Weakened his nation, hollowed out his military, and stifled any chance for Russia to compete in a global economy beyond being an extraction economy.

And with the war in Ukraine, and the devastation it has caused to the military, Russian leadership, and to two entire generations…Putin also robbed the Russian people of any hope for a better future.

The only chance of having hope again is removing Putin. And even though Putin controls the media. He doesn’t control the Russian access to internet sources.. He tries. But he has no where near the capacity to do so as Xi does.

In the past the implicit and often explicit admiration for Putin among the American right used to confuse me. He seemed to be the antithesis of everything the right claimed to value.

However, over the last seven years the American right revealed their true selves. They admire despots and “strong” authoritarian regimes.

However, they see sociopathy and narcissism as strengths. Which is why Putin is admired by the right.


“However, over the last seven years the American right revealed their true selves. They admire despots and “strong” authoritarian regimes.
However, they see sociopathy and narcissism as strengths. Which is why Putin is admired by the right.”

You were doing great, right up until there. You seem to forget that your lord and master, Obama, sent a clear hot-mic message to Putin about “having more flexibility after he’s re-elected”. IIRC, Obama wasn’t exactly on the right, yet there he was, putting on his kneepads and opening up.


Lars is doing the Trump = Hitler thing again.

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President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neande

If by “They admire despots and “strong” authoritarian regimes” you mean “those that obey and enforce the law equally to all”, then I agree with you.
But I don’t think that’s what you mean.
So I give you a downvote.


The only thing that confuses you are facts. It must be lonely being you.

The American far left is composed of many absolutist haters. “If you aren’t for me you are against me types mostly”; Putin types really. It is indeed possible for a person to have both positive and negative traits. I don’t know of anyone on the American Right that admires Putin, although there may be a few. This attitude makes it impossible for many on the left to judge things fairly, which is why they get a lot of things wrong.

For example, even though Trump was much less authoritarian and despotic than any President in this Century, you are forced to vilify and hate everything about him, simply because he disagrees with you on some issues. People like you are exactly why the US is so fucked right now.

Everything in your post above speaks from a place of absolutism and much if it is wrong. This attitude allows you to justify any action, even murder and human slaughter in an endless war of attrition. Only sociopaths and narcissists call for those kinds of things, but you do. You see the problem isn’t the right’s non-existent admiration for Putin but the fact that you hate him because like a true narcissist, you see yourself in there.


[The American right] admire[s] despots and “strong” authoritarian regimes.

Ok guy. The ‘right’ are the ones ponying up to Kill Gates, Jamie Dimon, and Blackrock while heavily investing emotionally in lockdowns, tech censorship and vaxxxines?


Putin is just a different kind of monster from the aforementioned, but a Warrior must respect the power of his enemy [unless that enemy is you, clownface] and he is worthy of that recognition. There is no way displacing Putin is going to end this conflict with a positive outcome. You can quote me on that.

Ukraine is the test ground for the NWO/WEF/techno-tyrants and Putin giving those poor souls an outlet while reducing both sides’ capabilities…?

Fuck ’em all.

But yet again, I say; peace is always the highest reflection of self-respect and the greatest weapon.

Why must you ALWAYS be on the side of big tech, wall st, big pharma, the cia, FIB, etc?


“Putin’s corruption stole the future of his country.”

All by himself, eh? What a man!
Russian corruption goes back quite a bit further than Putin.


“…the American right revealed their true selves. They admire despots and “strong” authoritarian regimes.”

Like Pol Pot, Daniel Ortega, Mao Tse-Tung, Salvador Allende, …..
There are idiots on both left and right. Only the left, as far as I can tell, claims moral superiority for their despots.

USMC Steve

The significant difference is that the right tends to both frown on and punish our radical miscreants, while the left encourages such crappy behavior. I haven’t met a lot of liberals, and I am thankful for that, but every one I met was pretty sketchy.


“ However, over the last seven years the American right revealed their true selves. They admire despots and “strong” authoritarian regimes.”

I’d also add that so has the American Left!


“This war ends when the Putin regime collapses.”

Maybe, maybe not. Depends on what replaces Putin, and that may be worse.


The Sum of All [my] Fears

The devil you know…


Odd how “leadership” forgets the lessons of the past on what worked, yet remembers and repeats what didn’t work. “We’ll get it right this time, because we are doing it.” Technology will generally defeat the Art of War because war advances technology while the Art of War moves much more slowly to change. “This is how we learned it at “The Academy” or C&GSC on the sand tables.” News flash, Mon General, this ain’t a War Game Exercise that we can critique at 1600 hours over brandy and cigars. This is the real deal where people die, things (cities) are destroyed, and the fate of Nations, even the World, hang in balance, not a Hologram Suite.

Forrest generally won ’cause he “…got there furstest with the mostest…” He may have been outnumbered overall, but he brought his mass to the weakest point. Sherman took Atlanta by taking the mass of his troops to Jonesboro and cutting Hood’s last remaining supply line. Grant (The Butcher) kept hammering Lee’s ANV with masses of troops in a war of attrition and finally cutting the last supply line at Petersburg. History is replete with even more examples.

War means fighting and fighting means killing. It also means “bringing every weapon to bear” before your enemy can, including your logistics train. We won WWI &II because we did exactly that. We’ve “lost” every war since because we DIDN’T do that.

Desert Storm? Won the battles but didn’t finish winning the war, ergo, we ended up in DS II and the other endless ME Wars.



Wars are won by effectively removing the enemy’s ability AND will to continue. WWII was won by completely destroying Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. We need to relearn the lessons our fathers and grandfathers taught us. Relearning costs us dearly in blood and treasure.


Yes, but no. Any modern version of World War will truly be global in scope, meaning both sides will kick each other in the soft bits (read: critical infrastructure) via clandestine reduction (southern ‘doorway‘ troop surge?) and/or remote attacks (think cyber, restricting supply), until one side may see that oft cited “existential threat to sovereignty” and light off the big toys.

It pains me to say this but we, due to being an open society, are more vulnerable to this type of conflict/war.

Doctor Peter Pry (RIP sir., of EMP Commission fame) and others have hypothesized that a total failure of USA’s grid could produce a 90% death rate.

[Then there’s this whole thing about today’s use of ideological subversion by way of social media manipulation… getting someone to fight themselves to a draw is better than any attack.]

I don’t know what the future holds, but if past is prologue; when one preeminent nation loses that status the likelihood of war nears a certainty.

None of this is advice, or prognostication, or expressing desires for… just saying I own an umbrella and check the weather.

Rain [could be] comin’


Agreed. It still comes down to removing the enemy’s ability to fight. Same game, newer weapons.


“removing the enemy’s ability to fight.”

Forgot the “will” part already, eh?


Nah, just got interrupted while typing. Thanks for the catch.


“…AND will to continue.”

Too bad most people, even the “experts”, forget or ignore that part, the more important part. It ain’t nearly as glamorous or cool or quantifiable as destroying tanks, artillery, etc.


The Doolittle raid is a prime example. Militarily, it didn’t accomplish a hell of a lot. But to the Japanese people, it was shocking. Their glorious emperor, who promised they were untouchable by the US, was shown to be human after all.


“War means fighting and fighting means killing. It also means “bringing every weapon to bear” before your enemy can, including your logistics train. We won WWI &II because we did exactly that. We’ve “lost” every war since because we DIDN’T do that.”

We sure did “bring it” during the World Wars, which not only established the brutality and totality of modern conflict, but also projected the US into our rapidly waning position as the world’s foremost military and economic power. Our entry into WWI came a bit late compared to the European powers, and we were hesitant to impose our will on the Central Powers, but by 1945 we’d learned our lesson, subjugating our enemies through sheer force and willpower and then occupying Germany for decades and Japan for much less time.

Subsequent wars saw us taking more of an “advise, assist, and nation-build” role, neutering our combat forces as politicians did what they needed to ensure prolonged conflict. Korea “worked out” for the military-industrial complex, as we still have a large presence over there 70 years later, while Vietnam and the recent wars showed what we can–or can’t–do with decades-long presences in foreign countries. We kick ass time and again on the tactical and short-term strategic level but lose in the long-term. It is curious how the only modern President to keep us out of war has been demonized time and again.


I should clarify: “while Vietnam and the recent wars showed what we can–or can’t–do with decades-long presences in [unstable] foreign countries [facing internal conflict as well as external threats].”


What do you mean I “couldn’t be the president
Of the United States of America?”
Tell me something
It’s still “we the people,” right?

If there’s a new way, I’ll be the first in line
But it better work this time

Can you put a price on peace?

Peace, peace sells
Peace, peace sells!

Peace sells, but who’s buy-in’? x a lot


As ol’ Curtis LeMay said:
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Skivvy Stacker

We need to send Kamala Harris, John Fetterman, and Ozzie Ozborn over there to talk some sense into those people…