The Ukrainian Military Is in Trouble and Suffering Grievously
The Ukrainian 59th brigade was undermanned, underequipped, was surprised, and got slaughtered
Editor’s note: If there is a conflict between A and B then the horde of people who are rooting for A and focus on writing about the setbacks of B are not all that interesting.
They are at risk of succumbing to wishful thinking. Many will be justifying optimistic self-delusion without even knowing it.
But people who are rooting for A and are also writing about the problems, setbacks, and blunders of A are much more interesting. People who are writing against what they wish to be true are much likelier to be producing value and reality-based accounts that actually somewhat hold up in the post-war when the fog of war has cleared.
Roggio is one such. He is pro-Ukrainian but isn’t looking through rose-tinted glasses.
We hear a lot about Russia’s tactical and strategic problems, but very little about the Ukrainian military and its problems. The coverage has been largely one-sided. This New York Times article on the Ukrainian 59th Brigade gives some insights.
The article notes that Ukrainian forces are fighting valiantly, they no doubt are and have put up stiff resistance. But the 59th Brigade, based near Crimea, has also taken significant losses. You have to read to the bottom of the article to see it:
“The Russian force that poured out of Crimea was five times the size of his Ukrainian unit and quickly overwhelmed it. His brigade had no air support and few functional antiaircraft systems, because most had been sent to Kyiv to defend the capital.”
“Much of the brigade’s tanks and armored fighting vehicles were destroyed in the initial attack by Russian aviation.”
“The brigade’s commander … had lost touch with military leadership and was forced to make decisions on the fly.”
“Encircled [in Kherson] and suffering heavy losses from strikes by Russian fighter jets, Col. Vinogradov ordered his remaining tank and artillery units to punch a hole through a unit of Russian airborne assault troops that had positioned itself at the Ukrainian brigade’s rear.”
“The fighter jets of the enemy attacked our tanks, several tanks were hit and burned, and the rest remained and did not flee,” Col. Stetsenko said. “… they gave up their lives to break through the bridge to dig in on the other bank.”
The New York Times report notes that this brigade was not prepared for the war and only 1/2 of its soldiers mustered on the day of the invasion.
War is chaotic. Like, the Russians, the Ukrainian military is having planning, communications, and command and control issues, manpower and equipment losses, logistical problems, and such. We just aren’t hearing about this because the coverage of this war is lopsided.
The 59th Brigade is fighting hard. But it is being ground down by Russian forces as it wages a fighting retreat. At what point does this brigade become combat ineffective? Has that happened already? How are other Ukrainian units faring?
Another interesting note is that the Ukrainian military appears to have pirated key combat enablers like warplanes and anti-aircraft systems to defend Kiev. Was it wise to leave the 59th Brigade under-resourced in order to protect Kiev? Could it have put up stiffer resistance?
The fundamental problem the Ukrainian military faced from the very beginning is that it doesn’t have enough forces to defend everything at once. The Russians have a numerical advantage and are willing to trade soldiers and hardware to achieve its objectives.
Source: Bill Roggio
Grounded column of Ukrainian army vehicles in Kherson pic.twitter.com/F3D2Xsy6GD
— Aleph א #IStandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 (@no_itsmyturn) March 7, 2022