What Could Be More Truthful Than a Gov’t “Enemy Losses” Infographic During Active War?
Government PR people make the cutest infographics
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense publishes an infographic every day where it “reveals” how many enemy tanks, trucks, heavy guns, troops, and aircraft they have “destroyed” each day. The infographic also comes with a running tally.
So according to Ukraine’s MoD it has so far “liquidated” 27,200 enemy personnel including 300 in the last 24 hours. Along with 200 aircraft, 1200 tanks, and 5000 other kinds of vehicles.
There are actually people who take these releases seriously or pretend they do. The English-language Kyiv Post features the numbers prominently on its main site (Like covid “deaths” and “cases” used to be highlighted for us before.)
Of course, the idea that the Ukrainian MoD has an idea of enemy losses is silly. The only thing sillier is the idea that Ukrainian MoD has any reason to be truthful even if it could know them (which it can not).
The Ukrainian MoD is naturally engaged in waging an information war, upholding morale, and covering its own behind from domestic criticism.
What Ukrainian MoD is somewhat able to do is estimate its own losses but those it is not publicizing. — Again for precisely the same reasons it is pulling laughable numbers for enemy losses out of thin air.
The Russian MoD does the exact same thing.
Every day RUMOD publishes a running tally of how many armored vehicled, “field artillery and mortars,” and other types of weapons it has “destroyed” in Ukraine.
The RUMOD tally differs from the UAMOD tally in that it does not keep track of enemy soldiers “killed”. However RUMOD does publicize the number of “nationalists eliminated” in their daily reports for that day. For example Monday:
The attacks have resulted in the elimination of up to 350 nationalists and the neutralisation of 56 units of military equipment.
The attacks have resulted in the elimination of more than 400 nationalists and up to 48 armoured and motor vehicles.
The attacks have resulted in the elimination of more than 280 nationalists and up to 59 armoured and motor vehicles.
The attacks have resulted in the elimination of more than 320 nationalists and up to 72 armoured and motor vehicles.
The attacks have resulted in the elimination of more than 300 nationalists and up to 37 armoured and motor vehicles.
RUMOD does also occasionally tally up these numbers. The last time was on April 16 when RUMOD claimed to know that Ukraine had until that point suffered “23367 irrecoverable losses” (dead, missing, POW).
For some strange reason some people who rightly laugh at UAMOD numbers then accept and bandy around RUMOD numbers.
RUMOD has absolutely no way of even ballparking Ukrainian losses (except by extrapolation from its own losses). And even if could know them (it can’t) it has every incentive to exaggerate them several times over.
The number that RUMOD does know somewhat well — the number of its own dead — that’s the one number it will not share. Because that one isn’t propaganda.
Basing the losses of a warring side on what *their enemy claims about them* (during active hostilities no less) is just the most bizarre thing ever.
RUMOD numbers don’t even pass the sniff test. 23K thirty days ago implies 37K by now. So they have killed 37,000 Ukrainians (which implies many more wounded) and are “eliminating” 300-500 every day, yet they can not even encircle a static defensive position that has been there for 8 years
Add to that RUMOD has so far acknowledged only 1351 KIA for its own side. So RUMOD is saying that it is inflicting absolutely cataclysmic losses *with virtual impunity*yet its progress on the ground is measured in inches?
Substituting clear success on the ground for the dissemination of optimistic daily kill counts has been done before.
But the reality of the situation is that outside bizarro ledger wars like the American “metrics” quagmire in Vietnam, militaries do not even attempt to track enemy casualties. The reality is that to RUMOD the question of how many Ukrainians have been killed so far is all but irrelevant. This is trivia fixated on by civilians, but to warplanners — who know that wars aren’t determined by losses but by successful operations — it has zero utility. What they want to know is the enemy strength and composition in the present. For that purpose they do reconnaissance. They don’t scour last month’s battle reports to try to tally up how many men the Ukrainian corps facing them may have lost last month. Because that number is irrelevant to them the information is not collected and not tallied up. It’s only important for civilians and for them it can be just made up. In fact it’s better if it is, because then it can be anything you want it to be. In fact, the truth is that the only reason the militaries keep track of even *their own* losses is so that they know which units require replacements and how many.
If the US was invading Iran and their two government defense departments were publishing colorful daily infographics on the number of tanks, mortars, and field guns destroyed how much credence would you give such creations? That’s how much credence deserve the Ukrainian and the Russian versions.
These numbers are worse than useless. They are propaganda. Its misinformation exposure to which leaves one less informed than he started out. They are published knowing that they will be disbelieved, but with the hope that they will nonetheless color perceptions through anchoring bias.
(The even more ridiculous Rybar infographic will be tackled separately.)