By William S. Lind, Traditional Right
Has maneuver warfare turned up in the conflict in Ukraine? Yes, and it has done so in ways that are instructive.
The original Russian campaign plan was classic maneuver warfare at the operational level. Stavka has focused on operational art since before World War II, indeed in some ways back into the Czarist period. But as I said in a previous column, the Russian army in Ukraine fell into a trap of its own making: its units could not deliver on the tactical level what the campaign plan required on the operational level. This is not unique to the Russians. In the First Persian Gulf War, the U.S. Army’s Seventh Corps could not move fast enough tactically to attain its operational objective, the encirclement of Iraq’s Republican Guard. In World War I, my favorite German general, Max Hoffman, said of the Austro-Hungarian chief of staff, Conrad von Hotzendorf, that his plans were operationally brilliant but his army could not execute them. That raises the question of whether a plan for an army that cannot do it is a good plan. I tend to think not.
On the Ukrainian side, the April 14 Wall Street Journal, in an article by Daniel Michaels titled “NATO Training Retooled Ukraine Army,” reported that:
NATO countries also helped Ukrainian military leaders adopt an approach called mission common, where higher ups set combat goals and devolve decision-making far down the chain of command, even to individual soldiers.