With the invasion of Ukraine by Russia some months ago, the U.S., as well as many other countries, rushed to help support Ukraine. Rushed is maybe an understatement. Made moves to support Ukraine is probably more accurate. Nevertheless, the U.S. alone has poured billions into the effort to keep Putin and his army at bay, but what is the end game?
At the current levels of support, which are substantial, the war is being supported to a draw. We are not sending so little that Russia is going to roll over Ukraine anytime soon, but we are not sending enough to allow Ukraine to push the Russian invaders out either. So why? Why are we taking this position?
Well, there are several possible strategies.
- No strategy at all. We are just sending aid because we should and the administration, still reeling from the Afghanistan debacle, does not want to be seen as cutting and running yet again.
- The Biden administration is simply fighting this proxy war by political whim. Whichever way the prevailing party bosses want to go, Biden follows. It has been said he has been on the wrong side of foreign policy decisions for 40 years, so why change now?
You also have the pundits and politicians, those that used to be characterized as hawks, calling for the administration to stop sending dollars overseas when our country here at home is suffering. You increasingly hear the talking heads on the right complain about all the money being sent to Ukraine, and for what?
There is some validity in that stance, as the administration has not laid out what they think the endgame is going to be. Remember, when this started, the first thing the U.S. did was to offer President Zelenskyy a ride out of the country. Clearly, he said no thanks.
So, let’s look at what is really staring us right in the face. Something that any military tactician, except maybe General Milley, should see.
Russia, the great bear, the gigantic military force that we have always seen as having one of the strongest and most capable military machines in the world, is a hollow force. These forces have been stymied at almost every turn. Their army has turned out to be not the professional and proud military we thought but a hodgepodge of units and conscripts that don’t work or train together. Their equipment is poorly maintained, outdated, and not performing well on the battlefield.
Their airpower is not much better, and reports are that their pilots do not want to fly close to the battle zone for fear of being shot out of the sky, so they launch their strike from a greater distance with little accuracy.
Communication among most units is a joke. Many have resorted to using cell phones to control their troops. Add to this mess the lack of resupply, replacement parts, and ammunition. What the Russians are doing, since they have lost much of their modern and best equipment, is relying on old, outdated reserve tanks and aircraft. Equipment that was retired and should still be in mothballs. The losses have been so large that they are now pulling this equipment out of the graveyards to get back in the fight.
The navy has been reported to be replacing electronics on their ships with parts salvaged from Chinese appliances that have computer chips and relays they can adapt.
Then there are the personal problems: massive losses, constant commander changes, and desertions. The entire war effort by Russia is not what we thought it would be.
So, what is this opportunity we are missing that I am talking about?
We have a once in history chance to destroy the Russian military machine and have Ukraine do it for us. At this point, we should be all in. We should send the Ukrainians everything they could use. We should enlist other allies to do the same and turn the Ukrainian military into a massive hammer that pounds the Russian military to pieces. We can do this without firing a shot and without committing even one pair of boots on the ground.
Russia has been a threat for as long as I can remember. As a Cold War soldier, the Russian Army (I still often refer to it as the Soviet Army) has been the boogieman in the dark. The country we were worried about and the one we never wanted to confront directly.
Now with the state their military machine is in, this is the time to push it over the edge and end Russian dominance once and for all. It will take decades, if ever, for the Russians to be able to wield the type of strength and power they do or are trying to do now.
Now is the time, and I can’t for the life of me understand why we are missing this opportunity. If we don’t change course and decide to put up or shut up everything we have spent, everything we have sent will be for nothing. Sort of like the billions of dollars in the equipment we gifted the Taliban, making them the best-equipped terrorist organization in the world.
To put it another way. Decide to win or don’t get involved. For me, there is only one correct choice. Support Ukraine to the fullest. When Russia destroys itself in their effort, Putin will be powerless to stop his demise, and with that, so many other things, good things for the U.S. and the rest of the West will begin to fall into place.
Don’t wait, don’t miss this moment in history. Don’t let this period be looked back on as a time we could have done something that would benefit the entire world besides just us. Don’t let the historians say, “The U.S. missed an opportunity that may never come again because they were weak in their resolve.”
There is a line from a film I saw years ago that so reflected my experience in the military, and I think it fits here: Sergeant to his Lieutenant – “Sir, you can go left, you can go right, I don’t care. But you got to move.”
Now is the time for the Biden administration to decide. They have to move.