War of Attrition — I Don’t See It
If we have a World War I type war, where is the no-mans land? Where is each side respecting each other’s dinner time, for that in-trench fine dining experience? Where are all the horses?! Just joking. Most of the soldiers are driven around by RAV4s.
The Ukraine war, as I see it, is not like any other. It is the first war being fought with big and small drones, with all the battle-field intelligence that super-power satellites and AWACs can deliver, with cell phones, cyber-warfare, with large numbers of mercenaries — right out in the open.
Attrition warfare is a military strategy consisting of belligerent attempts to win a war by wearing down the enemy to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel and materiel.
I’ll grant that Russia is trying to win through attrition warfare…and trying and trying and trying.
Like everything about the war, most commentators focus on what Russia is doing. Russia has more tanks, more artillery, more home-town support, more everything! It’s a super-power for crying out loud!
What does Ukraine have? The same equipment as Russia, but a lot less of it. Backing Ukraine up? Western countries bickering with each other and more worried about their local economies than saving Ukrainian lives. C’mon, Ukraine is not going to win with us on their side. We suck! We elected Trump (or Biden)! We’re one step away from living in a Handmaid’s Tale!
I believe 100 days is enough to come to a simple observation about how Ukrainian soldiers compare to Russian soldiers. There is no comparison. Ukrainians not only believe Russian soldiers are poor fighters, many seem to feel bad about killing so many conscripts. While Zelensky goes on and on about how Ukraine needs more heavy weapons, making Russia look like it has overwhelming odds, the individual Ukrainian soldier is telling a completely different story.
(Again, this is all just my speculation!) I feel that if both sides stopped using artillery tomorrow Ukrainian soldiers would chase the Russian army out of Ukraine as fast as the Russians could run…and they’d keep on running, change their phone numbers, their home addresses.
Ah, but the world doesn’t like its baddies portrayed as one-part scared-shit 18-year-olds praying for the war to end and the other part older Russian officers hiding from everybody and anybody, covering their faces, avoiding all contact.
It’s a war of attrition and Russia will win because it has more artillery to attrit the Ukrainians with.
- Never mind that Ukraine receives more accurate artillery from the West, every day.
- Never mind that when Russian units try to advance on the ground, after a barrage by said shit-load of Russian artillery, the Ukrainian fight with passion and organization leading to Russians running away in all directions. (who can blame them?)
- Never mind that techie Ukrainians are building anti-drone weapons in their attics while techie pro-war Russians are blogging about the supposed strength of Russia’s rouble in the safety of their St. Petersburg or Moscow apartments.
- Never mind that Russia hasn’t done a single impressive thing since the war began. Not one. We live in a mass-psychosis where we believe Russia has some super-dangerous military. Years of Bond movies and Cold War propaganda. Why do people believe flatting a defenseless town with a howitzer shows great (if any!) military strength?
- Never mind that Russia, on the whole, has lost control of hundreds of square kilometers of territory in Ukraine yet when it wins one square kilometer everyone says it’s now the end of Ukraine.
- Never mind that Russia has repeatedly tried to cross the river but can’t because there aren’t enough competent Russian soldiers willing to protect the crossing on the other side?
Again, I could be wrong about most of this or all of it. Ukraine winning doesn’t bring people back from the dead, nor does it prevent killing tomorrow.
Ukraine is right. They speak a basic truth which is lost on too many people. They are winning; they will win. If the West really doesn’t want the war to spiral out of control (other autocrats looking for trouble) then it should make sure that is sooner rather than later.
If there is a war of attrition, it is hard and smart-fighting Ukrainians soldiers, wearing down the enemy to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel.
No matter how much equipment Russia has, it will be useless when there’s no one left to operate it.