Vladimir Putin expected an easy ride into the Ukraine. You can tell that by the desperate measures the Russians are taking to plug the gaps in their military. Despite overwhelming advantages in size, they are struggling badly. Even with their current, scaled-down objectives. If it were not for the firm support of China, the Russian economy would have collapsed weeks ago.
Why? We could cite several reasons. The determination of a free people not to be enslaved. Support from other free peoples such as Europe and the United States. Endemic gangsterism and place seeking in the Russian armed forces and wider society. But for Christopher Woody, writing for The Insider, there is another reason. It’s all to do with command and control, and it may have deeper lessons for us all.
Woody points to major differences in the training and doctrine of the NCO cadres between the two adversaries. Basically, the Ukrainians devolve a lot more decisions down to their NCOs, who are empowered to make tactical decisions in the heat of battle. And this addresses the most important feature of any combat: unpredictability. The Russian structure, and doctrine, is top-down, hierarchical and therefore highly inflexible. “No plan survives contact with the enemy” It’s an old saying and has been attributed to many. But commanders and nations forget it at their peril. As do companies, schools, hospitals, newspaper editors and the politicians that serve them. The operational costs of turning people into robots can be very high indeed.
As we write, it is impossible to predict the outcome of the current war in the Ukraine. But Vladimir Putin is asking his people to pay a very high price for his own lack of thought and of flexibility. How long will they continue to pay it?
We thank Mr Peter Seymour for this story
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