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U.S. Generals Have Been Wrong on Ukraine. We Shouldn’t Be Shocked

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Russian tank firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Frederick B. Hodges, former commanding general of U.S. Army-Europe, claimed last month that Ukraine’s forces would soon slow Russia’s advance and, the New York Times reported, begin “to roll back its gains by late summer.” Hodges said his confidence was based on his belief that “the Ukrainian logistical situation getting better each week while the Russian logistical situation will slowly degrade.”

Such claims, however, are in contradiction to observable reality on the battlefield – and continue a disturbing, decades-long trend of poor and misleading advice given by America’s top military officers.

Listening over the past four months to what America’s retired generals and admirals have said on TV, one would be forgiven for believing that Ukraine is winning its war with Russia, that Putin’s troops and leaders are incompetent, and that soon Ukrainian troops will begin rolling the Russians back.

Such belief, however, would be badly misplaced, as substantial evidence indicates virtually the opposite.

A Rosy Look at the Brutal Battle in Ukraine

Rosy, optimistic – and inaccurate – assessments from U.S. flag officers have unfortunately become the norm over the past few decades. While some current and former generals give excellent and accurate assessments, there are far too many that don’t. The consequence to American policy has often been severe. It is time to reassess how much credibility we should place with American generals and admirals.

As I have chronicled on these pages, the conditions and military fundamentals clearly evident for years have strongly suggested that Ukraine could not win a war with Russia, and that both Kyiv and Washington should have made different policy choices based on that reality, both before and since Russia’s illegal invasion. But as graphically detailed below, active and retired flag officers have continually claimed that – ignoring clear evidence to the contrary – Ukraine has a chance to win the war.

Encouraging Ukraine to Keep Up the Fight

Such unwarranted assertions have led policymakers and the American public to believe, improperly, that we should continue encouraging Ukraine to maintain its fight against Russia. American official policy has been to provide Kyiv with substantial armaments to defend itself and overwhelming emotional support. 

If the generals were right, if Ukraine were indeed close to winning the war, and if the aid we have offered could tip the scales in Kyiv’s favor, then our policy might make sense. But it doesn’t. Ukraine isn’t winning the war and isn’t even close to parity, much less superiority, to Russian forces.

In my most recent piece at 19FortyFive, I detail many of the practical, military reasons Ukraine is losing the war and is likely to continue losing. In my assessment, if Kyiv continues refusing to seek a negotiated settlement with Russia – something that is understandably repugnant to many Ukrainian citizens and government – they are in danger not merely of sliding into a long-term stalemate, but of outright losing the war.

I do not hesitate to admit that I can’t guarantee an outcome in this war. There are too many variables and information I don’t have, and do not have access to the secret council of either the Russian or Ukrainian general staff, or that of the western NATO leaders. A number of things could change the dynamics and trajectory of the war, which are not publicly known. Of course events that have yet to happen could result in major course changes.

But as I have laid out in detail, the current trends and military fundamentals reveal Ukraine is unquestionably losing this war. For the conditions to change dramatically enough to make an eventual Ukrainian military victory possible, as many generals continue to claim, would require a radical shift from today’s realities. Beyond mere rhetoric, there is no evidence such a radical shift is forthcoming. It is therefore irresponsible, I argue, to tell the American people that the desired outcome is possible when all evidence screams that it’s not – and downright cruel to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and civilian population, to foster a belief that they have a chance.

Should Washington Change Course?

To have the best chance to protect America’s vital national interests and save as many Ukrainian people as possible from being killed, Washington must change course and begin to form policy based on a frank and honest assessment of the combat, economic, and diplomatic realities of this war. It will be hard to get to that rational place, however, unless we first recognize the consistently rosy pictures painted by America’s flag officers over the past few decades have been atrocious.

My 21 years of active service in the U.S. Army, including four combat deployments, has put me in a position to personally observe many of the mistakes and bad judgments of both active and retired generals. The cumulative result of their frequently flawed advice has been uniformly bad for our country, resulting in some of the worst military and foreign policy decisions our country has made.

Whether it was routine claims, made over a 20-year period, of success in the Afghan War when events conclusively proved it was always a disastrous failure, or perpetual claims of success during and after the 2003 Iraq war – before the Iraqi Security Forces the U.S. trained melted away at the first contact with the Islamic State – senior American military leaders have consistently misled the American public on the true state of affairs. 

Since virtually the beginning of the Ukraine-Russian war, American active and retired generals have consistently claimed that Russian troops were incompetent, that their troops were ill-disciplined, arrogant, unmotivated, and sometimes rebelled against their leaders and refused to fight. The Russians, many generals claimed, could not win, with Gen. Hodges claiming that Ukraine would begin rolling back Putin’s troops before the end of this summer.

Yet Russia controls more than 20 percent of Ukrainian territory and continues conquering urban center after urban center in the Donbas, killing upwards of 200 troops per day, wounding another 500 in the process. 

Russia outguns Ukraine 20-1 in howitzers, 40-1 in artillery shells and Rockets, and has a significant advantage in air power. There is no rational basis upon which to claim that Ukraine can stop the Russians, much less roll them back.

It is appropriate, in light of the awful record active and retired general officers have amassed over the past few decades, that both the media and public should give more scrutiny to future claims made by generals. It is understandable why many would give blanket trust to the word of a senior commander: they typically have 30-plus years of experience and have served at the highest levels. But evidence confirms that this trust has been misplaced and it is up to the generals to earn that trust back. Telling the truth and giving honest assessments would be a good place to start. 

Now a 1945 Contributing Editor, Daniel L. Davis is a Senior Fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army who deployed into combat zones four times. He is the author of “The Eleventh Hour in 2020 America.” Follow him @DanielLDavis.

Written By

Daniel L. Davis is a Senior Fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army who deployed into combat zones four times. He is the author of “The Eleventh Hour in 2020 America.” Follow him @DanielLDavis1.

72 Comments

72 Comments

  1. Joe Tierney

    July 2, 2022 at 12:21 pm

    US policy in the Ukraine war is idiotic – that is true. However, it’s much worse than that. It is an intentional and sinister effort to use the Ukrainian military and its people as cannon fodder in a scheme to “weaken Russia” or the “break Russia’s back”. Ukraine and its people have NEVER mattered to US policymakers. From 2014 onward the US has cynically and viciously used Ukraine as a tool against Russia, at the same time leveraging Ukraine’s legendary levels of government corruption to greedily exploit its wealth and resources – with the current US President being deeply involved in such plundering via his son’s criminal business dealings.

    In the present war, the US generals and admirals are willing propagandists eager to support America’s sinister policy of continuing to sacrifice Ukraine on the altar of the push to “break Russia’s back”.

    Is the US any more sinister than other countries such as Russia, China, et al? Probably not, except perhaps by virtue of the sheer number of times and geographical locations where the US has engaged in such policies.

    Is it a worthy goal, that of stopping the rise of brutal authoritarian regimes? Yes, of course – but what is really gained when the US acts in such a manner that there is little difference between us and what we hate???

    • Walkergw

      July 3, 2022 at 6:25 am

      “Is the US any more sinister than Russia…?” You are looking at it all wrong. Your question should be “Is the US any more virtuous than Russia?” And the answer to that is a resounding YES! I’m not saying the US is perfect or that it is completely moral. But there is no comparison to Russia. Russia wants us to go back to the era of might is right and even when the US was at its most powerful it wasn’t half as greedy or entitled as Russia is. There can only be peace in the world when Russia is ground to dust under the heel of world power, where ever it comes from.

      • Zan

        July 3, 2022 at 11:06 am

        $8 trillion spent and 900,000 civilians killed in US “war on terror,” in just 20 yeara. And we are no safer than before. Meanwhile 3 million Americans homeless, bread lines around the country, bridges collapsing, CIA domestic surveillance, militarization of police, civilian asset forfeiture, Asaange in prison awaiting US extradiction for doing journamism… America wrote the book on “might is right,” yet cant even take care of its own people. To say America is more “virtuous” than China and Russia is ludicrous. Youre living in fantasy patriot land. Recognize that the US is a brutal empire. Russia and China have had enough….and THEY try to take care of their own people and infrastructure at least..

        • Ezra Teter

          July 3, 2022 at 11:49 am

          Don’t forget the world’s largest prison population. It certainly isn’t in Russia.

      • LAzar

        July 4, 2022 at 9:29 am

        Mere fact someone can with seriousness and not an inkling of doubt say for a country like USA that it is more virtuous than Russia (or anyone) “with a resounding yes” just speaks of sheer volume of hubris, narcissism and lack of self-reflection of even ordinary Americans (whom I think and hope are mostly good people but have utterly soulless elites disconnected from reality).

        Everything has become about virtue signaling, heck even those who do criticize USA tend to make it about themselves and their “virtue”. No matter the side of political spectrum so many Americans see themselves as virtuous the others as evil and then disqualify others based on their assumptions of them.

        Opposite opinions are disregarded completely and the other is slowly dehumanized. Media blockade and onemindedness in USA is complete and it is rapidly entering the final stages where USSR was which is sad because if there was any country that could have made a better world it was USA after 1991. Instead it completely destroyed world order and international law seeing the entire world as it’s playground and now that other countries got stronger this is the result.

        USA not half as greedy as Russia? Russia wants peace in it’s neighbourhood and security of it’s nearest borders. USA wants the entire world. For us from small countries under it’s thumb you just cannot even fathom how humiliating is the fact that US ambassadors meddle and often directly form our governments and direct our foreign and domestic policies. The stupidity,ignorance, hipocrisy, humiliation and lecturing by the “virtuous” endured daily. And it is like this in dozens of countries. USA can have interests half a globe away and Russia can’t in it’s backyard. How delusional and hypocritical can you get?

        At the very least Russia is fighting in it’s neighbourhood in land where Russians do live and has put everything at stake. All US wars since ww2 were wars of choice usually fighting some unfortunate impoverished nations that have no conventional chance just so it can flex. Russia had the guts to challenge the entire West from much weaker position and launch an offensive with inferior numbers. I honestly thought it would abandon people of Donbass. And trust me, I’ve been to Ukraine in 2013 and even back then there were tensions and nationalism of westerners against the easterners could be felt, I can only imagine what they would unleash upon Donetsk if they were allowed to do so and if they felt the West and it’s media would cover up for them so they could ravage with inpunity. Most Ukrainians are innocent people but they have so many nutcases in millitary circles you wouldn’t believe.

        If USA had a neighbour like Ukraine it would have invaded it on the first hint of open emnity with everything it had just like it did with Iraq (on false pretenses and half a globe away). Even the way this particular invasion happened is completely ommited in your media.

        Someone not that well meaning instigated Ukrainians to bomb Donetsk for several days after 15th february passed with no invasion, with the most intense day being 21st of february, and you can bet they were trying to see if there would be a reaction, because they’ve been doing this for 8 years but you slept over it. but I think the sheer scale of reaction surprised them.

        Russia was surprisingly patient with Ukraine and the west for 8 years despite a challenge issued to the point where it often ignored DNR and LNR for the sake of wider peace. Every deal even before takeover of Crimea was spurned with derision and afterwards even what was signed was not respected. It’s a tragedy that it has fell as low as USA and stooped to this but as time passes and it becomes obvious how much weapons and money was invested into Ukrainian army and how it was positioned while refusing any negotiation I see why this was done.

    • Hersh

      July 3, 2022 at 9:28 pm

      Yes, it is much worse because we will spend $800 billion a year on the incompetence of our leaders and their military budget. They are all sociopathic “neocons,” sorry to say. Why give any of them any benefit of the doubt?

      Clearly NATO is not up to fighting a war with Russia on the European continent or it would be US, British, French etc. troops fighting and not 50 year old Ukrainians conscripted off the subway platforms. Our media, military analysts, retired generals, etc. have been on TV spouting this childish psyops taunting the Russians from Day One. Martyrs of Snake Island! Ghost of Kiev!

      It’s too much and very frightening that they really could start WW3 in their arrogance and incompetence.

    • Ray

      July 6, 2022 at 1:37 pm

      To “Ukraine and its people have never mattered to US policymakers” one could add the American people. How else to explain the spending by US policymakers of American blood and treasure on endless and useless wars? Wars which most Americans opposed.
      The US policymakers explanation for those who oppose their policies: They are Russian “dupes”, and “useful Russian idiots.”

  2. NEIL HUSSEY

    July 2, 2022 at 12:26 pm

    As a former Canadian soldier, I ‘d like to dis the former.Lt.Col. for his put-down of Generals. I suspect that there is some lasting bad taste in his mind re:Generals in general. I believe that there could be some Generals a bit out to lunch(former or current),but to dis all the Generals who have commented positively for the Ukraine army’s professionalism in comparison with the Russians,I beg to differ that the possibility of all the Generals being wrong is an erroneous statement. The truth is that Putin’s Nuclear bluff needs to be called out.He knows that to threaten is not the same as to do it. If the Russian military was to ever follow his orders to fire nuclear weapons at the West would be to invite total destruction of his own country by Western retaliation. A more likely happenstance will probably be Russia either daringly or erroneously firing weapons into a NATO country, and then it won’t matter if the Ukraine Army is or is not better than the Russians, because Russia will have bitten off more than they can chew with the NATO forces against them.
    Putin didn’t start this war only because the NATO powers were closing in on Russia, but because he is a little dictator who wants to restore the Russian satellite countries back under his control. He is naive in that thinking and I suggest the Ukrainian response will remain to be seen to be believed.That said, I have no qualms whatever to NATO getting involved and totally kicking Putin’s ass in Ukraine or elsewhere. If truth be known, Putin is the Nazi in this situation.The death and destruction inflicted upon a peaceful living neighbour like Ukraine because of his nefarious ambitions is paramount to the brutality inflicted by the Nazi’s during WWII and just as unnecessary.

    • Walkergw

      July 3, 2022 at 6:26 am

      Kudos for a completely correct and well thought comment.

      • Ezra Teter

        July 3, 2022 at 11:51 am

        Y’all have been drinking too much of that empire Kool-Aid.

    • GreatWall

      July 7, 2022 at 6:20 pm

      “The truth is that Putin’s Nuclear bluff needs to be called out.”

      Quintessential Internet tough guy. What’s interesting is that for the propaganda calling Putin crazy or reckless, these sorts actually believe he’ll be quite rational and not mutually escalate to thermonuclear destruction of human existence. The reality is if Russia rolls up on the Baltics/NATO for example, the US will make the right decision between destroying the credibility of NATO or destroying america itself. Everyone perfectly understands that even if most lack the moral character to admit the obvious, just like these generals.

      “If truth be known, Putin is the Nazi in this situation.”

      Everyone we don’t like is Hitler, whether it’s Saddam or Ghadafi or Xi or Putin. Except of course people actually wearing nazi insignia and consider themselves aryans killing what they consider mongoloid slavs/orcs over better part of the last decade. What’s revealing is everyone knows what that refers to.

  3. Pis Pot

    July 2, 2022 at 12:54 pm

    Are you paid by the Russians???

    • Walkergw

      July 3, 2022 at 6:54 am

      I hope not. But I feel the same frustrations. I’m sick of the peddling of what would essentially be the benefit of Russia.

  4. Scott Slotte

    July 2, 2022 at 12:59 pm

    The war in Ukraine is up to the Ukrainians, not us. We should continue to supply Ukraine with every military piece of hardware they want. Including modern fighters. This nonsense of not wanting to fight this brutal invasion is fostering aggression. Biden failed to get these arms to Ukraine earlier. Now it’s time to rectify this mistake

    I suppose the author would have counseled Poland, France, and Great Britain to surrender to Hitler in 1940.

  5. John

    July 2, 2022 at 1:04 pm

    I agree with everything you say. Now start laying in out exactly what Ukraine needs to win the war. Maybe some high official somewhere will listen to you.

  6. Gerry

    July 2, 2022 at 1:05 pm

    Your numbers are wholly inaccurate. Your assessment of what’s being said by leadership is wholly inaccurate. This whole article is junk.

    Everyone from day one said Ukraine will lose. Most said right away. A few said they would hold out for a long time. Which they have been doing. The “optimistic” leaders are saying so because they’re guessing that the Russians will eventually lose will and supplies. But everyone agrees that things depend on a lot of variables. Luck being one.

    Try again, Pal. Your experience doesn’t show for much more than what it does anyone else that you attempt to decry.

    • Joey

      July 6, 2022 at 5:48 pm

      “Everyone from day one said Ukraine will lose. Most said right away.”

      Everyone? General ‘White Rage’ Milley made the ludicrous claim of 2-3 days. The same genius general who predicted that the Afghanistan forces (that we wasted 20 years training) would hold up against the Taliban. The Russians never claimed any timeline whatsoever. I just don’t see how any military could just steamroll a country, the size of Texas, with 40 million people, and the largest standing army in Europe in 3 days. It took the German war machine, at the height of its power with an army of 3 million men, 5 months to conquer the Ukraine. Our institutions have proven themselves untrustworthy. Stop trusting them.

  7. Eric-ji

    July 2, 2022 at 1:08 pm

    The real problem is the military is tasked with ‘not losing’, another way of saying they’re not tasked with winning. Been a problem since 1950.

  8. Goran

    July 2, 2022 at 1:18 pm

    American society should be concerned by the fact that people like Davis get tasked defending the United States. There is no loyalty and ideals, it’s just a cold calculation and if the enemy seems strong, Davis’ knee jerk reaction is to surrender. Thank God someone like him was not in charge back in 1941.

  9. Rlg

    July 2, 2022 at 1:23 pm

    Great to read your stuff.

  10. Peter

    July 2, 2022 at 1:27 pm

    Great article and a profound and honest assessment of the situation on ground in Ukraine. I sometimes wonder what these so-called generals are hoping to gain by their often-misleading information. It is likely that these generals are either “genuinely” ignorant of the situation they are professing upon or are being “deliberately” deceitful in order to benefit from prevailing public emotions.

  11. Ulf Larsen

    July 2, 2022 at 1:36 pm

    Reading this and connected articles, I come to the conclusion that the US won the war in Vietnam & the USSR and the US both won the war in Afghanistan…

    Davis seems to focus on number of guns, and not the bigger picture. But even with the details, he seems to argue without the fact, as this:

    “After recovering from their opening phase disasters, Russian air forces operate with near-impunity in the air and constrain any movement from Ukrainian troops on the ground.”

    That the Russian air force can operate with near-impunity is not what I read from other sources, and this is before various NATO equipment will arrive.

    But back to the bigger picture, which should interest the rest of us. If Russia gets away with this, more will come – both from it and China. If NATO/EU assists Ukraine in stopping and beating back the Russians, the Chinese will also take notice. NATO/EU has an economic basis that Russia can not match, same with military equipment.

    If Ukraine want to defend itself, if we give them the weapons, in the end Russia not only should be defeated, but will be defeated.

  12. Predator

    July 2, 2022 at 1:40 pm

    The Russians are concentrating artillery in one location, choosing where to strike among say 20 targets. Each of these targets then has to fight back an entire attack force. Ukraine has learned not to play along and instead have decided to let the Russians move that artillery around. Russians’ only goal of the so called gains is to try and broker a peace deal, which isn’t happening.
    If this was any indication that Russia had more of such a capability, they would extend the front lines, and of course they can’t, so it’s basically now a one-punch army pretending they can nuke the World.
    Let’s not forget that Russia and Putin are sprouts of the radical Pamyat movement from Belgorod, which earns about 2% support in Russia.
    It is over, pal

  13. cobo

    July 2, 2022 at 1:52 pm

    Unfortunately, I have to agree with everything you say. Westmoreland tireleesly deveived the American people during Vietnam and that seems to have set the tone for senior military leadership. However, “Of course events that have yet to happen could result in major course changes.” I expect these sorts of events to happen, bringing the larger forces of NATO into direct confrontation with Russia. If that wasn’t planned from the start then this entire project has been a tragic waste. I would never have advocated for a war with Russia, but if that is where we’re heading we need to win. We also need to come to terms with warfare in the nuclear age, and make sure our adversaries know that crossing that line brings down our nuclear weapons – and that our nuclear weapons need to be feared. Choice win/lose on the field of battle or lose your entire civilization and perhaps all of human civilization. We don’t blink.

  14. aldol11

    July 2, 2022 at 1:54 pm

    what a crock of *hit

  15. Tomb

    July 2, 2022 at 2:24 pm

    The author may be right.
    If he is, Ukraine loses more land, as they lost crimea in 2014.

    However, this leaves a Russia free to take land from Ukraine
    Every few years apparently whenever they feel like it.
    Over time, Ukraine could disappear.
    And why not other countries ?
    Thus, it is in the best interest of the entire world that Russia be stopped.

  16. Terry

    July 2, 2022 at 2:41 pm

    I’m curious, is your salary paid by the Russian ministry of propaganda?

    • Ezra Teter

      July 3, 2022 at 11:58 am

      You have been drinking that empire propaganda for too long and now you need to deal with the hangover of reality. Just wait until you realize that you have been had. Then, you will be pissed.

  17. Arnim Kuhn

    July 2, 2022 at 3:13 pm

    David does not seem to have any idea what an alternative policy might look like. He starts talking about it, then immediately stops again to continue his lamentations about incompetent generals. His analysis, however, is shallow and does not appreciate the different goals and resource constraints of the two warring parties. I admit that I had been more optimistic one month ago, but currently I’m just unsure and waiting for a sober resource-based assessment … that apparently is hard to come by.

  18. abraham lincoln

    July 2, 2022 at 3:18 pm

    It’s a little weird for you to claim that the generals are all fools, especially when they have said that the tide would turn at the end of the summer. It’s not the end of the summer yet. We will see what the situation is on September 1. The Russians currently have an advantage, especially in artillery. But they have recently had to commandeer ammunition from Belarus, which seems to indicate their stocks are low, even early in the summer. Let’s wait to Septemer 1st, and then figure out who was right.

  19. HAT451

    July 2, 2022 at 3:35 pm

    I can explain, from experience, why so many flag officers produce inaccurate assessments.

    Up to about the rank of 0-5 or 0-6, promotion is mostly based on the officer’s performance and ability. Sometimes at the 0-6 and definitely for flag officers, politics enters the picture. Great truth telling officers who do not parrot the political “utopic illusion” stalemates tend to be retired while the those who officers who are competent and play politics are promoted.

    Hence when the someone hires former flag officers to be military consultants, their selection pool potential commentators is littered with flag officers who have had many years experience of bending and spinning the truth into something that fits a political agenda.

    Likewise, when a flag officer speaks officially to the public, they know they have to put a spin on what they say to support the political narrative.

  20. Brian Haire

    July 2, 2022 at 3:52 pm

    Myself being a veteran I’ve observed how to often generals capitulation to politicians ignorance of effective battle tactics. For instance during the Vietnam war american generals never attempted to occupy the Ho Chi Minh trail with troops and cut off permanently the ONLY major supply line the North Vietnamese Army had to move troop and supplies to South Vietnam. If we had done so the NVA could no longer get combatants to the south and the war would’ve ended in Victory for the USA in 2 years or less. Similar folly happened in Afghanistan when politicians failed to continue to block and occupy the moutains in Afghanistan bordering Pakistan. Presently NATO has the capabilities to sink Russias entire Black Sea fleet and eliminate all invading troops and middle and long range artillery in and near Ukraine while successfully enforcing a no fly zone with combat aircraft. Russia has comparable combat aircraft but not in enough large numbers to reinforce and replace planes lost in dogfights and combat sorties. The Ukrainian military doesn’t have the manpower numbers to sustain long term warfare. It’s imperative that the USA and NATO do not allow themselves to be held hostage by nuclear weapons threats and not strike Russia invaders now before Ukraine falls and not afterwards.

  21. Joseph

    July 2, 2022 at 4:02 pm

    I served more than two decades in U.S. combat arms, and in government service for two decades afterward. During this time, I had many conversations with American colonels and some general officers. I was sometimes surprised to discover that these men (plus a few women) had done little reading, had scant knowledge of military history, and processed but a weak grasp only of current geo-political / military trends.

    I also met NATO and allied commanders. Generally, they were more educated than their American counterparts. However, long careers leading forces no stronger than the Duke of Penwick’s decreases the chance that any opinion they offer will be widely read.

  22. Ben Leucking

    July 2, 2022 at 4:10 pm

    Apparently, the author’s last assignment was as an aide to Neville Chamberlain.

  23. Whohastostop

    July 2, 2022 at 4:22 pm

    Time and time again Mr Daniel has shown himself pushing Russian rethoric, without acknowledging changes on the ground..

    • Walkergw

      July 3, 2022 at 6:43 am

      Bingo!

      • Ezra Teter

        July 3, 2022 at 12:06 pm

        By “changes on the ground”, are you referring to Russia’s continued advance in the Donbas? I am not getting this information from the RT. It was in the Washington Post and New York Times this morning.

  24. Stefan Stackhouse

    July 2, 2022 at 4:55 pm

    With US and NATO help, Ukraine can stop the Russian advance. They have already largely slowed it down and frustrated it tremendously. It is thus reasonable to think that the Russians can be prevented from a complete “win” in this war. Stopping the Russians was the first priority all along, and the Ukrainians are on track to do this.

    On the other hand, rolling the Russians back to their borders is a whole other matter. What we have supplied to the Ukrainians thus far is only a small down payment for what would be required to accomplish this. There is no way that this can be done absent such help, and it is by no means certain that it can be done even with such help. Nor is it certain that the US and its allies even has the production capacity to supply armaments in the necessary quantities.

  25. Jacksonian Libertarian

    July 2, 2022 at 5:06 pm

    “Russia outguns Ukraine 20-1 in howitzers, 40-1 in artillery shells and Rockets, and has a significant advantage in air power.”

    Given this disparity in Dumb weapons, why haven’t the Russians destroyed the Ukrainians? In fact why didn’t the Russians roll right over the Ukrainians 4 months ago? Isn’t that what the author and most experts predicted based on Russia’s material advantage?

    Could it be that the author’s experience fighting barbarian Islamics doesn’t apply to today’s “mature precision strike regime”? Why are the Russians just creeping forward inch by inch in the Donbass after churning the rubble with their 20 to 40 fold advantage in dumb weapons? How are the Ukrainians holding off the Russians, and what do they need more of to repel them?

    The question becomes, just how much more 1st World smart weapons logistical support would break the Russians? Would a doubling of support smash the exhausted Russian forces?

    I’ve been advocating giving the Ukrainians smart weapons (Javelins, Stingers, etc.) for years. I predicted that the Russian invasion was not going to be an easy win, and that the Ukrainians had a real shot at Victory. I’ve been saying all along that Russia’s logistics are their Achilles heel, and targeting them will win the war.

    From a Science point of view, if a Hypothesis isn’t predictive, it is wrong. My predictions have been on the money.

    If Ukraine gets the smart weapons (100 HIMARs w/300km range and plenty of missiles) to cut Russian supply lines. The world will see a Ukrainian Victory.

    • Mostly Right

      July 14, 2022 at 6:58 am

      There is a first time for everything, “From a Science point of view, if a Hypothesis isn’t predictive, it is wrong. My predictions have been on the money.”
      To many Americans are blinded and biased by anti-Putin propaganda and the sense that America can not be morally wrong and can not lose a just war.
      I have spent hundreds of hours studying the current relationship between Ukraine and Russia. I have concluded that Russia is doing what America would be doing if Ukraine was on our border with only one exception. That exception is the American strategy of firepower, aka, “shock and awe”, and the disregard of the life of innocent citizens to prevent flag-draped coffins from arriving back at Dover.
      The only Ukrainian victory in this non-NATO mostly peaceful event will come once the Russian forces have expelled the Ukrainian regime from the air breathing population on earth without massive collateral damage to the country and the civilian population. At this point it is being said that if Putin gives up and backs out for any reason, the Russian people would throw him out of office for a certified war hawk and finish the mission.
      If you are unclear or disagree with my post, first explain; 1. why is Bandera considered the hero Of Ukraine 2. why do so many captured soldiers have so many Nazis tattoos, even pictures of Hitler, 3. why do Ukraine citizens come into the streets of towns and cities crying in joy, thanking the Russian forces after they have pushed the Ukrainian forces out of the area, 3. Why is Zelensky the president even though his ratings, during his election period, were about what Biden’s is at this point, 4. why was Anthony Blinken acting as the Ambassador of Ukraine in peace talks with Lavrov leading up to the beginning of the TSO to denazify and demilitarize Ukraine of western weapons of mass destruction.
      Sadly, If Trump were in the Oval office and doing as Biden is now, the democrats would be having an impeachment hearing at sunup, and the mainstream news would be showing the world how corrupt, evil, and deceitful the Ukraine government has been toward it’s population, and double that toward the indigenous Russian citizens.
      It’s okay for you and others to have an opinion, I just wish everyone would consider the actual facts and not the imaginary facts that have become a guide for American policies under the other god they have decided to go along with. As I write this, all of the current studies indicate that more the Russian people worship and fear our ‘God in Heaven We Trust’ more than Americans do.
      Should I be predictive about what will happen, my money would be on Russia winning multiple humanitarian and economic victories from this mission of their’s and the dollar will become half the value it was on J202020, and the Ruble will be twice it’s value where it matters globally.

  26. Error402

    July 2, 2022 at 6:16 pm

    It is not just US generals (and admirals) that have been wrong.

    Add in real wise guys like Jimmy Carter and genius-brain types like Joe biden.

    Also add in great exceptional US equipment like early warning systems and missile launcher systems like the one that shot down Iran air flight 655 becuz it identified the airliner as a f-14 fighter jet.

    Around 1979, US early warning at norad notified USSR had launched ICBMs at Washington.A second notification said MORE MISSILES were heading toward the Potomac.Then security czar brezezinski was about to call Carter for permission to launch counterstrike when a third call said ‘false alarm.’

    Also never forget the episode known as “the Okinawa missiles of October.”

    Then also remember the deep state associates that have pursued US military and CIA support for selected jihadist entities in Syria.

    The US is the GREATEST THREAT to humanity and world peace today, the Babylon of our age, the carpophorus of our time.

    • Terry L Wallace

      July 2, 2022 at 7:35 pm

      Nym fits.
      “Error 402 – payment required”

  27. Ghost of Kyiv

    July 2, 2022 at 8:02 pm

    I suppose when you can’t even make full Col. after 21 years you have to attack those more successful?

  28. Begemot

    July 2, 2022 at 11:32 pm

    LTC Davis – It appears that for your dedication to truth you are to be fated with the curse of Cassandra. I salute your commitment to putting forth your views. It’s a pity you are throwing pearls before swine.

    I agree with your analyses regarding Ukraine’s war with Russia. It’s refreshing to see an American officer who ‘gets it’.

    • Fluffy Dog

      July 3, 2022 at 11:49 pm

      Actually, he doesn’t get it. As somebody noted above, LTC in 21 years is not a great achievement. Add to that the fact that those in good standing receive the next rank of “full bird colonel” upon retirement, as a token of appreciation. Inferred lack of his military skills and performance is showing in this article.

      Comparing numbers is never a good argument in military matters. Wasn’t it Russian legendary general Suvorov who said: “fight using skills, not the numbers?” Incidentally, Caesar said after defeating Pompey with 1/3 of the force: “He lost because he is a loser.”

      Russian advantages in numbers are unquestionable. Russian incompetence is just as unquestionable. Russia could not win a war with Chechnia, 1/100th population of Russia. You guys had to flatten its capital, Grozny, and the city disappeared, to be rebuilt later. You win wars against small neighboring countries by throwing your own people on their guns, and you don’t care that they die. Quoting a great Russian Strategist of WWII, Marshal Zhukov: “Wenches will make more of them.”

      Today you are fighting not a small country but a near-peer, that was trained in western tactics and learned them. And you are stalled, despite not just superiority in the numbers on land, but also absolute superiority in the stand-off, the naval, and air weapons. Neither you nor the author “get it.” Russia can’t fight. Russian soldiers could if they had competent command, which they don’t.

  29. Brigadier Venkataraman Mahalingam

    July 3, 2022 at 1:45 am

    A very well articulated article which is very realistic and practical. I tend to believe that the projection of Ukraine’s victory over Russia by US Generals is aimed at keeping Ukraine at war, which facilitates US’ larger aim of containing Russia making use of Ukraine as its tool at the cost of, resources and lives Ukrainians. Unfortunately, Europe has also been dragged into this war to make them feel that Russia is a military threat to Europe. A careful analysis would reveal that Russia does not have the economic clout or the intentions to wage a war against Europe.

  30. David Chang

    July 3, 2022 at 4:08 am

    God bless people in the world.

    Mr. Davis say some history and military knowledge.
    But many people do not admit that.

    We know that from World War II, the socialism war in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghan. And we know that tactic superiority is not the cause of strategy superiority, so democratic party reject the counter-offensive speech of General Patton and General MacArthur,
    and lose the socialism war in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghan.

    In recent months, some Congress discuss financial discipline.

    As the above speech which against Mr. Davis, the wrong thought of Democratic Party is destroying our life. Democrats don’t obey Ten Commandments and worship science, want to conquer everything with technology, so Democrats made nuclear war in 20th century, but we can’t stop socialism war.

    Democratic party never confess their sin, and teach officers to learn ancient greece paranoid war history.

    If the wrong thought of Thucydides is the doctrine of military officers in 21st century, we will take major risk.

    If the counter-offensive speech of General Patton and General MacArthur is wrong, how will Democrats prove it is different today?

    Think about the speech of Mr. Kissinger and Mr. Davis, it’s righteous to promote moral truth in Constitution, cut taxes, repeal the Green New Deal, reduce social benefits, limit military budget to fixed costs and NGAD program, and to agree with the speech of retired Marine Corps.

    God bless America.

  31. Walkergw

    July 3, 2022 at 6:40 am

    I am pretty sick of reading this crap. Is Russia winning? If you call taking Donbas as winning, yes it looks that way. But at what cost? Is it sustainable, can they keep on after they complete that phase? What is their ultimate goal and can they meet it? I think all these questions need to be fully fleshed out and I for one have not seen 1945 even try to answer these questions. And yet I see constantly articles saying that we need to “get real” and look at saving Ukrainian lives. Did you not pay attention in 2014? Are you completely stupid? Ukraine may not be able to win, but they have no alternative but to try. And what happens to the US and world order of Ukraine fails? If Putin gets his wishes in Ukraine, he goes after his next targets. And he realizes that his win in Ukraine is a win against NATO. If he sees it this way, a direct confrontation with NATO is not out of the picture, that ends with the end of the world. So we have no choice but to see Ukraine to victory. You complain e about Biden, but he is just as stupid as you. He also doesn’t see that we have no option but the utter destruction of Russia. We are not giving Ukraine all the hell they ask for nor are we doing all we can to help them. We are only helping them to not lose, or not be quickly defeated. We need to look at reality. It is victory for Ukraine or the death of us all. There really isn’t a lot of possibilities in between. Defeat for Russia is actually a win for the people of Russia, even if they don’t see it that way.

    • Ezra Teter

      July 3, 2022 at 12:14 pm

      You are like the true believers in crypto hodling while their entire life savings collapse.

  32. Neil Ross Hutchings

    July 3, 2022 at 7:34 am

    One thing we can all agree upon is that Mr. Davis gets people talking. Time will tell whether or not supporting Ukraine was a good idea, as policies are unlikely to change throughout the summer. I appreciate the pragmatic analysis of the battlefield activity and have tired of the propaganda from both sides of this conflict. I suspect Putin will be the first one to offer an olive branch in this conflict, but only when his army has reached a more easily defensible position, whether that be in the Donbass or all of eastern Ukraine. I do not know the terrain. To claim that Russia wants to retake the territory lost with the breakup of the Warsaw pact is ludicrous. And I personally think NATO and the West would be content with Russia occupying or annexing eastern Ukraine as it would relieve them of so many future responsibilities. Watch Belarus, I suspect.

  33. Michael Droy

    July 3, 2022 at 9:21 am

    “Frederick B. Hodges, former commanding general of U.S. Army-Europe, claimed last month that Ukraine’s forces would soon slow Russia’s advance”
    Where as in 2014 when he was actual commanding general he said there were 10,000 Russian troops in Ukraine. Given that we still have seen no photographic or satellite evidence of 10+, safe to say the Hodges is simply a liar.

    It is not stupidity – US wants Ukraine to be chaos – like Syria or Libya. It is entirely the plan (going back to 2010-12 and Biden/Obama).
    After the 2014 coup US had complete control of Ukraine. To keep it all that was needed was to tell Poroshenko/Zelensky to clamp down on the nazie and to negotiate a little over Minsk (Zelensky got 75% of the vote because he promised to do so).
    Ukraine got burnt for a reason.

  34. Robert Eklund

    July 3, 2022 at 10:16 am

    Imagine if Ukraine were able to lob tit-for-tat missiles into Russian cities for every missile that Russia lobs into one of its cities. Would that not be just, and would it not force Russia, too, to think about negotiation and ceasefire? Why is it, then, that Ukraine is permitted only to try to ‘resist’ or ‘intercept’ Russian attacks? If Ukraine labours under any disadvantage, it only is this. Give them the wherewithal to establish parity.

    • Anthony St. Hippolyte

      July 4, 2022 at 12:24 am

      The limitations being put on Ukraine, not being allowed to cross the it’s aggressor’s border is exactly what happened during the Vietnam war when South Vietnamese troops, as well as U.S. forces were not allowed to cross the DMZ into North Vietnam. There are many other similarities as well. Shades of history repeating it’s self and I’m afraid, for the same reasons and to the same end by, it seems, clones of the same policy makers and command officers. It almost makes one have to believe in conspiracies’. God help the United States.

  35. Ezra Teter

    July 3, 2022 at 11:42 am

    As the author of this article most certainly knows after 20 years of military service, you don’t make it to the rank of general or even colonel by saying to your superiors, “That is an impossible ask and you will only be frustrated by the results of trying.” These retired generals all know that they are going to be expelled from the Military Industrial Complex grift of six and seven-figure sinecures if they start speaking the unfortunate truth that we are losing. There are also some political realities to consider here. Jim Crow Joe knows that the American people will be furious that we just pissed away $50 billion for nothing. That is enough money to end world hunger for a year or pay for free college tuition for all current students. With that in mind, they are going to continue to avoid speaking the truth until at least after the midterms.

  36. William Craddock

    July 3, 2022 at 12:09 pm

    Unfortunately, the Author, right along with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger are both bang on with the force on force numbers of soldiers/equipment estimates heavily in Russia’s favor. Thus, as Kissenger advises, it’ll eventually force Pres. Zelansky to an unfavorable settlement with Moscow. Only NATO/US Strategic scale interdiction against Russia’s invading forces, above and beyond our limited contributions of tactical artillery/missiles platforms given Ukraine, will turn the tide of Russia’s onslaught. Instead, we now have both a worldwide refugee and grain crisis, itself easily justifing a Desert Shield/Desert Storm world coalition effort to forcibly evict Putin from all Ukrainean territory and coastlines. Ukraine’s sufferings, due to Pres. Biden’s timidity compared to previous U.S. Administrations tenacity. As in Afghanistan, we’ll all bear witness to seeing another American Embassy flag in a formerly friendly Allied capitol get hauled down again.

  37. CRS, DrPH

    July 3, 2022 at 3:28 pm

    I really don’t think the Russians are winning this war. As of Friday (1 July) the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is claiming the following Russian casualties:

    35,750 Russian troops killed (approximately three times that number wounded and captured)
    3,736 armored personnel carriers destroyed
    2,610 vehicles and fuel tanks
    1,577 tanks
    796 artillery pieces
    645 tactical unmanned aerial systems
    217 fighter, attack, and transport jets
    246 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)
    186 attack and transport helicopters
    143 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses
    105 anti-aircraft batteries
    61 special equipment platforms, such as bridging equipment
    15 boats and cutters
    four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems

    • Invitado 2

      July 4, 2022 at 6:21 pm

      Esas cifras no son ciertas. Si esas cifras se comparan con las pérdidas ucranianas uno pensaria que los soldados ucranianos muertos son 357.500 (en porcentaje de 10 a 1, no de 20 a 1 dicen los ingleses que es la proporcion en esa guerra). Y con todo ese armamento destruido Rusia continúa avanzando en Ucrania. Por favor reflexiona, esas cifras son propaganda barata.

  38. Xcerptshow

    July 3, 2022 at 7:03 pm

    Did he miss the part where Russia had to fall back and focus on 1 specific goal in order to make any substantive progress?
    What is he going to say when the Ukrainians retake Kherson in the next 3 months?

  39. Prowall

    July 3, 2022 at 9:15 pm

    It looks to me that many comments ‘are’ problems with maths, statistica, and knowledge . Eg. In rocket hypersonic Russian tremendous superiority.

  40. Prowall

    July 3, 2022 at 9:19 pm

    It looks to me that many comments ‘have’ problems with maths statistics and knowledge. Eg. in rocket hypersonic Russian tremendous superiority.

  41. David Chang

    July 3, 2022 at 10:37 pm

    God bless people in the world.

    Socialism parties in Europe build their fantasy world with wrong policies of Democratic Party, Ivy League and Frankfurt School. It is making U.S. soldiers to forget that it is still the socialism war made by Karl Marx.

    For more than fifty years, Europe are friendly with Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO). Many people in Europe oppose United States and believe Karl Marx. The Hudson Institute ever discuss an Europe opinion poll report that more than 50% of people in Europe will not against the invasion of U.S.S.R..

    Many politicians who believe Karl Marx’s philosophy, are like Olaf Scholz, say that Soviet Union and Warsaw Treaty Organization are gone, Nazis is gone, and they think world will be in socialism forever.

    When Putin and Gorbachev want to make Russia Socialism Democratic back, these politicians say Putin is fascist, they do not admit that Lenin and Mussolini believe socialism, too.

    It is the same in Asia.
    Many people talk more but do less.

    Even with the fall of Soviet Union and WTO, Europe-Asia countries still believe socialism of Communist Manifesto is the same as Plato’s Utopia.

    Military is about strategy issues such as morality, soldiers, weapons, supply logistics, monetary policy, and nuclear weapon.

    Mr. Washington say: Why forgo the advantages of so peculiar a
    situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of Europe ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?

    So I hope U.S. military remember Ten Commandments and the history of Constitution.

    God bless America.

  42. Anthony St. Hippolyte

    July 4, 2022 at 12:27 am

    The limitations being put on Ukraine, not being allowed to cross the it’s aggressor’s border is exactly what happened during the Vietnam war when South Vietnamese troops, as well as U.S. forces were not allowed to cross the DMZ into North Vietnam. There are many other similarities as well. Shades of history repeating it’s self and I’m afraid, for the same reasons and to the same end by, it seems, clones of the same policy makers and command officers. It almost makes one have to believe in conspiracies’. God help Ukraine.

    • Fluffy Dog

      July 4, 2022 at 10:25 am

      The limitations are placed on the use of weapons provided to Ukraine, not on their operational decisions. They already started hitting Russian territory because some of the weaponry is being freed up. They also currently have, according to some reports, special operations teams working in Russia. Thus the unexplained explosions in various places, which are being explained as workplace accidents.

  43. David Chang

    July 4, 2022 at 9:05 am

    Ukraine borrow a lot of money from International Monetary Fund for socialism policy, so people in Ukraine should end the war by themselves.

    I hope people in Ukraine correct their constitution, hold truth which is self-evident, obey Ten Commandments, and abolish socialism policy.

    God bless people in the world.

  44. annie

    July 4, 2022 at 2:07 pm

    The American comments here are so ignorant, so hateful. I recommend, all get out of the US, touch the rest of the world, smell it, taste it, until you do, you have no idea of the world. The US is no longer No1, thank God! This century is lost to it. The Russians and Chinese will raise the human race to standards the US could only dream of. 80, maybe 90% of the humanity would like the US to Fxck Off for a generation or two. Get an education and clean out what makes you you.

  45. dunci

    July 5, 2022 at 4:28 am

    brilliant article, wise author. but it is enough to say that nobody, i repeat NOBODY will ever win the war with Russia. it is impossible.

  46. Vlad

    July 5, 2022 at 6:15 am

    Russia are to be listed asState Terrorist Nation as well as being classed an enemy of the US. Every one with half a brain cell all ready knows Russia is a Terrorist Nation of barbarians not fit to inhabit this earth any ways. Hitters adopted son Puking Putin is lost in his own twisted mind consumed by the hate and envy of the Western world yes envy. He is a sad pathetic tiny man a little Despot who only lives to inflict death,pain,misery anguish,turmoiland cruelty on the people of Russia and globally, he has developed the brains of a rocking horse now at best and is a liability to Russian existence on earth he can say I will nuke you you and you if you don’t do this that and the other it’s all bull shut, if he is dieing he might want to say fuck it if I am going no matter nuke every one. I believe their are plans already in place if Putin orders a nuke strike but alas the only thing to be killed will be Puking Putin himself by a Russian close to him BANG he will be gone because the people surrounding Putin don’t want him murdering their families for a start.

  47. the blame-e

    July 6, 2022 at 3:11 pm

    All wars are resource wars. If you take the sanctions and proxy war as “Acts of War” against Russia then World War 3 has already started. Ukraine is simply being terraformed to support an invasion of Russia through the Ukraine by the United States, the UK, the EU, Europe and NATO.

    The addition of Sweden and Finland to NATO is just more Russian bearbaiting, to be added to the Kaliningrad blockade, the sanctions, and the proxy war bearbaitings.

    The west needs the natural gas, oil, coal, minerals, and rare earths Russia has in “shameful abundance.” The West’s economies, already on the brink of collapse, needs Russia’s resources to replace what they have mostly exhausted themselves.

    Taking Russia’s energy resources is a matter of survival — economically, socially, culturally, and politically — and has become an existential threat to all parties, on both “sides.” The West has no place else to go for these resources, at this point.

    Russia is going to take all of the Ukraine. It should reach the Polish border just as the first snowflakes fall.

    Christmas of 2022 will tell the tale.

  48. Aztec6

    July 7, 2022 at 3:48 pm

    It’s a failed policy on purpose. Ukraine as a war zone is more useful to hide Democrat corruption.

    No American boy wants to die for Ukraine.

  49. Dan

    July 8, 2022 at 10:30 am

    I’ve scanned through the comments and I don’t see anyone touching on the real reason for the Ukraine war. Russia, China and the other Brics nations along with Asia some of Europe and the Global South are attempting to form an economic alliance outside the US dollar. Russia admitted that if they were weakened it would make such an alliance more difficult. This is about dollar hegemony, if over half the world were to stop using the dollar for trade it would bring down the United States. 70% of all dollars circulate outside the US and if those are largely no longer needed you would see inflation skyrocket with all those dollars coming home to roost. Pompeo in a recent speech admitted the war was to stop a Eurasian alliance. And a world lead by China with Russia. The Ukrainians are just cannon fodder in this conflict. The U.S. has no real concern for them, they are just tools to weaken Russia. From the look of things this war is weakening the U.S. far more than Russia.

  50. Leethal

    July 8, 2022 at 2:41 pm

    Because I’m not there I don’t know who is winning but what I read all over is that Ukraine is beating the sh it out of Russia.

  51. Sarah Elizabeth

    July 14, 2022 at 1:12 am

    Great

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