Friday, December 04, 2015

Actually Help Ukraine Fight

When you read about Ukraine's military shortcomings, it should give you an appreciation for Russian conventional weaknesses.

The big news is that at least some of the equipment we sent to Ukraine is so old that it is non-lethal aid simply from becoming inoperable:

The United States has delivered more than $260 million in nonlethal military equipment to help the government of Ukraine in its fight against a Russian-backed insurgency, but some of the U.S.-supplied gear meant to protect and transport Ukrainian military forces is little more than junk.

On a personal note, I drove some of those plastic-doored Humvees back in the day--perhaps even literally given the age noted. They provided little protection against the cold, let alone bullets.

This is just wrong.

But Ukraine's military effort has far bigger problems than the relatively small equipping effort we've made:

One little publicized aspect of the war in eastern Ukraine against Russian-backed rebels is the inefficiency of the Ukrainian military leadership. The most outspoken Ukrainian critics have been the few thousand Ukrainian special operations troops (commandos). These men are better trained and more experienced than most in the Ukrainian military and know a lot more about Western military practices. The main complaint is that the senior leadership are still stuck in a rigid mindset that was inherited from the Soviet era military. These attitudes were allowed to persist because the government and the military leadership believed they had no immediate military threat to deal with. That was because of a 1990s deal whereby Ukraine agreed to give up the Soviet nukes it inherited in return for cash and a promise from Russia that Russia would never take advantage of the surrendered Ukrainian nukes to try and regain control of Ukraine.

And remember, Russia's major gains were against a virtually undefended Ukraine as Russians swept into Crimea without the Ukrainian government having many reliable troops to send to resist.

And in the Donbas, the rapid seizure template failed miserably, requiring direct Russian combat intervention at high cost and with only limited territorial gains.

Russia is aggressive and can make gains against weaker opponents. But don't assume they are 10 feet tall and then conclude we are helpless to resist them.

Let's help train those military leaders in Kiev to fight better and stop sending scraps to Ukraine.