Posts Tagged ‘NATO’

by Richard Martin

This question was asked by an acquaintance of mine this morning. This is my answer.

Not in the least. For the following reasons.

1. The West as a whole, and particularly the EU, NATO, and the US, invited post-Soviet Russia with open arms into the international community of nations after the end of the Cold War. There was a Russia-NATO joint commission. Russia was first invited and accepted into the G7 — becoming the G8 — and G20 groups as well as the WTO. Western companies poured hundreds of billions into Russia in investment, only to see their operations hijacked and expropriated to the benefit of Moscow’s minions.

2. NATO countries made great efforts to secure and destroy Soviet nuclear weapons and materials, all at the cost of the countries doing the hard work of conversion and transformation. There were disarmament treaties and attempts at military cooperation and confidence building measures. NATO and other Western nations actively engaged with former Soviet republics to increase military professionalism and assist in converting their armed forces to a more defensive posture under civilian control.

NATO Exercise in West Germany in the 1970s

3. At the end of the 80s, just before the end of the Cold War, NATO forces in Europe were well-armed, integrated, and operationally exercised and trained to a very high standard of readiness and capability. I know, I served as an infantry platoon commander in Germany and then brigade and division staff officer from 1988-91. I participated in the largest peacetime deployment of troops as part of the REFORGER exercises in Germany in September 1988, with the US V and VII Corps and the entire German army, plus all the other countries in the Central Region of NATO. Before that, I was a platoon commander in the 5th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group. We deployed on exercise by sea and air to northern Norway in August-October 1986 for the largest peacetime deployment on Exercise Brave Lion, to train with the Norwegian Armed Forces as well as the Royal, Dutch, and US Marines. This was to demonstrate and test the capabilities of the Canadian Air-Sea Transportable Brigade to NATO’s northern flank. The US protected Western Europe with its nuclear arsenal, especially at the level of theatre nuclear forces (Pershing II, Lance, and cruise missiles). Meanwhile, the US was developing and deploying the initial elements of the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars).

4. NATO countries, mostly in Europe and Canada, paid out the “peace dividend” and proceeded to slowly disarm and degrade their military capabilities. Eventually, the Baltic republics, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Albania, Slovenia, and Croatia formally asked to join NATO and were accepted into the collective security organization. These countries had to meet stringent requirements in terms of military professionalism, civilian control of the armed forces, respect for the rule of law, and the explicit renunciation of expansionism and irredentism.

5. Western nations only started to change their tack with Russia after it became clear that the Kremlin had no intention of honouring its commitments to respect the borders of the former Soviet republics, recognized by the international community of nations and integrated into the UN. The Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008 was only the first move by Russia, followed by the annexation of Crimea and the Donbass separatist “people’s republics” in 2014. That’s when the West finally woke up to the Russian threat and imposed economic and political sanctions. But nowhere near to the same level as what is being imposed since 24 February 2022.

6. Russia NEEDS to be cancelled. The West must isolate the Russian economy, punish those who are responsible for this war of aggression, support Ukraine with as much military, technical, economic, financial, diplomatic, and political means as needed to defeat and reverse the invasion and to restore the borders of Ukraine to the internationally recognized — including by Russia in 1994 — borders of post-Soviet breakup. That means that the so-called “peoples’ republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk and the Crimean peninsula must be reconquered by Ukraine.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was an infantry officer for over 20 years in the Canadian Army. He is currently an entrepreneur, strategic advisor, and information warrior focusing on extracting valuable information and signals from chaos and noise.

by Richard Martin

This is a longer post than usual. My aim is to provide a better understanding of Russian strategy, operations, tactics, and logistics in its invasion and attempt to conquer Ukraine.

War is the systematic application of violent means to attain political ends. It is a contest of wills, with the aim of imposing one’s will on the enemy. The ultimate Russian aim is therefore to destroy Ukraine’s will to resist and to neutralize NATO’s will to commit to the war other than through indirect and long-term means.

We must therefore analyze the war from Russia’s perspective at the four levels of the hierarchy of ends, ways, and means: grand strategic, military strategic, operational, and tactical. Each level provides the ways to achieve the higher level. To this we add logistics, which provides the means to implement the ways to achieve the ends.

Grand Strategic Level

Ukraine conquered, fully merged into Russia, either de jure or de facto. Rally the international Axis of Lies and Resentment (Iran, North Korea, China, etc.). Keep the rest of the world guessing and off balance, wondering how far Putin is willing to go, up to and including World War III and global thermonuclear exchange.

Military Strategic Level

Destroy Ukrainian armed forces and national will to resist. Isolate Ukraine geographically and militarily, while keeping NATO off balance with threats of nuclear escalation. Exploit Western and NATO reluctance to engage in the conflict. The following diagram provides a quick visual overview of the military strategy.

Assessment of RU War Plan as of 12 Mar 22.jpg

Operational Level

Manoeuvre on exterior lines. Attack on 4 axes to keep the Ukrainian military dispersed and guessing as to the focus of main effort. Since the start of the invasion on 24 February, the Russian main effort has been on the Belarus-Kyiv axis. The initial attempt to execute a coup de main to capture or eliminate the Ukrainian government in Kyiv failed. It was based on seizing the major airport at Hostomel with heliborne forces then bringing in air transportable mechanized forces to rush to seize Kyiv. The aim was apparently to install a puppet regime. Ukrainian forces foiled the initial and repeated attempts to seize Antonov Airport (Hostomel) and the subsequent “thunder run” to Kyiv. This forced the Russians to fall back on a ground assault plan. I won’t speculate on how far the apparent “plan B” was developed in advance, but I will say that weather, logistics, and terrain were major factors in slowing the Russian advance.

Tactical Level

The Russian army basically follows military doctrine developed and honed during the Soviet era. The best way to characterize Russian tactics is as follows: “Who needs tactics when you can mass a thousand tanks in a square kilometer?” As best I can make out, tactical proficiency, low-level and individual initiative, and welfare of troops on the ground are the last consideration of the Russian command. Russian units, up to and including divisions, tend to follow prescribed patterns of movement and rigid drills while relying on concentrated mass at points of breakthrough followed by exploitation forces. What is considered basic field craft in Western armies is, for all intents and purposed, non-existent in the Russian army.

Sidebar on Russian Logistics

We need to also briefly consider Russian logistics doctrine, which is closely intertwined with fighting doctrine, as in all armies. The best way to do so is to compare US and NATO logistical methods with Russia’s.

NATO armies mainly use a “push-pull” system and keep large groupings in the field for extended periods. Combat stores (ammunition, rations, water, and fuel) plus spare parts and medical supplies are kept close to the front lines in the logistics train and called forward by combat units as their stores are depleted, at minimum daily, and more often in high intensity combat. Smaller armies, such as Canada’s, tend to be more “forward focused” in their logistics and maintenance. For instance, Canadian Army doctrine is based on forward maintenance of equipment: repair as many vehicles and weapons as possible as far forward as possible. The US Army approach is based more on workshops and depots in depth that can exploit specialization, replacement, and economies of scale. This obviously stems from its huge size compared to smaller countries’ armed forces. Regardless of the implementation, the basic philosophy is the same: soldiers are the most important resource; they must be cared for and treated with respect.

The Russian army basically follows Soviet doctrine, upgraded somewhat to reflect the evolution of combat since the end of the Cold War. From what I gather, Russian units and soldiers basically go into combat with a basic load of ammunition and fuel, and they are expected to fight until depleted, to be replaced by new units. When I was studying this stuff in the 80s and 90s, the expectation was that a Soviet unit or formation could be in the line until it was down to 30% fighting strength. If you look at the 2nd World War, sometimes it even went lower than that. We’re currently seeing that approach being tested, especially north and west of Kyiv, but it fits with what I know of Soviet logistics doctrine that the Russians have adapted. They fight with smaller, more flexible units than under Soviet structures, e.g., Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs) grouped into task-organized brigades, divisions, and armies. However, Russian fighting forces appear to have about two thirds less support units within their organizations than NATO/US ones.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was an infantry officer for over 20 years in the Canadian Army. He is currently an entrepreneur, strategic advisor, and information warrior focusing on extracting valuable information and signals from chaos and noise.

By Richard Martin

Fascism is the worldview, the Weltanschauung, that sees the grassroots, deeply felt social solidarity and cohesion of nations as both a model and a threat. Fascism is thus an attempt to recreate the same level and type of social cohesion as what reigns seemingly naturally and effortlessly in liberal democracies, but from the top down, rather than the bottom up and laterally between individuals.

Similarly to socialism, fascism sees independent centres of social solidarity, cooperation, and community as threats to this top-down cohesion. Both are inherently collectivist in nature, but in different ways. Whereas socialism and its revolutionary incarnation, communism, see these threats and the need to united authority and control in terms of transnational classes and other categories (e.g., gender, sex, race), fascism sees the nation or people (e.g., German Volk) as the basis of top-down control, authority, and cohesion.

German National Socialism (i.e., Nazism) and Italian Fascism were the primary incarnations of “small f” fascism in the 1st half of the 20th century, with the disastrous consequences of World War 2 as main effects.

Current Russian nationalism, let’s call it Putinism, is a variety and instantiation of “small f” fascism. When I say, “small f,” I specifically mean that it stems from the same worldview as Italian Fascism and German Nazism of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. That worldview interprets Western power and, especially, success, prosperity, and cultural attractiveness as a threat to the solidarity, cohesion, and security of the Russian nation, defined in a wide sense to include White Russians (Belarusians) and Little Russians (Ukrainians) in addition to Great Russians (Russians proper).

From this perspective, Putinism is an ideology of resentment, envy, frustration, and anger. It views all Western influences as subversive of Russian purity and security. The military doctrine of Russian “hybrid war” (gybridnaya voyna) tries to distill the secrets of Western success and cultural magnetism as encroachments and offensive manoeuvres. It identifies a “Western playbook” for world hegemony, particularly from the American perspective, and tries to apply the same playbook to Russian defence and counter-encroachment.

Western observers who say that Russia’s concerns vis à vis NATO, the United States, Europe… and Ukraine, fall into the trap of accepting Kremlin claims of being surrounded and under foreign domination and threat of invasion at face value. Just like Russian fascists and other Putinists around the world, they are blinded to the basic truth that Western, and especially American/Anglo-Saxon cultural, political, social, and economic “hegemony” stem from the inherent attractiveness and magnetism of Western values and civilization, not from any master plan for world domination. (That would also include those in the West who fear the World Economic Forum.)

This article is just a first installment of what is proving to be a fundamental metanoia for me. It is a journey of “seeing through the world.” I hope you will accompany me on this adventure.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was infantry officer in the Canadian Army. He is now an entrepreneur, trusted strategic advisor, and information warrior focusing on extracting valuable lessons and signals from chaos and noise.

By Richard Martin

1st Falsehood: Russia has legitimate security concerns about its borders and NATO encroachment. Wrong! Russia would have less security concerns if it weren’t constantly threatening, badgering, or bullying its neighbours.

Highly detailed physical map of Russia,in vector format,with all the relief forms,regions and big cities. (c) bogdanserban

2nd Falsehood: The United States/West/NATO caused this crisis by wanting to expand to Russia’s borders, thus threatening the latter. Wrong! The reason NATO has expanded since the end of the Cold War is that Russia’s neighbours felt, and continue to feel, threatened by Russian aggression and expansion.

3rd Falsehood: The Russians are just like us; they want freedom and democracy with a free market system. Wrong! There is little or no evidence to support this assertion, at least since the end of the Cold War. There have been attempts at economic and political reform, but the Russian people have remained relatively quiescent and followed the official ideology and worldview.

4th Falsehood: Ukrainians are just a part of the Russian nation. Wrong! That’s like saying the Flemish and Dutch; Austrians and Germans; Czechs and Slovaks; or even the French and Quebeckers are unitary nations. They’re not. Ukrainians and Russians speak closely related languages and have intertwined histories. But they are different nations, and this has been asserted and realized to varying degrees over hundreds of years.

5th Falsehood: NATO and non-NATO countries not at war with Russia. Wrong! Russia has been conducting what it calls “hybrid warfare” against the U.S., Canada, U.K., and other NATO nations since at least 2016, and one of the main theatres is cyberspace, where Russia has been conducting continuous cyber and information warfare to disrupt communications, infrastructure, military, and financial networks.

6th Falsehood: Economic sanctions and financial restrictions are sufficient to bring Russia to heel. Wrong! Only military defeat of the Russian invasion either by Ukraine acting alone (though with foreign support) or outright foreign involvement will force Russia to leave Ukraine.

7th Falsehood: A negotiated solution is in the offing. Wrong! Everything indicates the exact opposite. Putin and the Kremlin appear determined to solve what they perceive as the Ukrainian problem once and for all. Even if there were a negotiated withdrawal, Russia would only do that to buy time, just like Saddam did after the expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991.

© Richard Martin

Richard Martin was a career infantry officer in the Canadian Army. He now plies his trade as an information warrior and strategic advisor to leaders and decision-makers. He focuses on extracting valuable lessons and signals from chaos and noise.