May 12, 2022

MACKUBIN OWENS: The Very Model of the Modern Russian General.

The current U.S. doctrine originated in the 1970s and ’80s when American planners concluded that we lacked the conventional capability necessary to defeat a Soviet offensive against NATO and that our threat to escalate to the nuclear level rang hollow. Led by young Army officers at Fort Leavenworth and elsewhere, U.S. land and air forces developed a battle-winning operational doctrine that came to be known as AirLand Battle or AirLand Operations, which represented a true doctrinal revolution. The success of that doctrine was based on developing the tactical instrument, to include well-trained and educated officers and men, flexible command and control, and operational planning. It proved its worth in both Iraq wars.

Conversely, Russian operational doctrine relies on a brittle top-down approach to command, which means that when (not if) a plan encounters unexpected setbacks, subordinates lack the flexibility and initiative to adapt to the new circumstances. Without a professional non-commissioned officer (NCO) corps and subordinate commanders who are expected and trusted to adapt to changing circumstances, senior Russian commanders, fearful of being sacked, have been required to expose themselves to hostile fire to direct tactical details rather than focusing on strategic or operational concerns. But the progress of the war thus far suggests that Russian problems are systemic and cannot be corrected by even the presence of senior officers doing the job of colonels and majors.

The relief of Russian commanders, which set this entire sequence into motion, has led some to suggest that a U.S. shortcoming in recent years has been our failure to fire unsuccessful generals. In the words of one critic, “a private who loses his rifle is subject to greater punishment than a general who loses a war.”

Worse: We spent two decades trying to get our military to perform nation-building missions for which it, and the patience of the American people, are both ill-suited. All the Woke nonsense hurts, too.

Still, the results so far in Ukraine show that when it comes to the fundamental mission of breaking enemy formations, that the American model, even as adapted by Ukraine, remains formidable.

InstaPundit is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.