Some Ukraine thoughts

Although Ukraine has dominated the news the past month, there’s a lot of important news here in America that’s not getting nearly the same attention – especially in Washington. The emotional and rash ways in which Washington politicians talk about sending weapons system and aid to Ukraine with no concern about the price tag, the sensitivity of handing over advanced technology on a battlefield we have no control over or thinking about the “post-war” ramifications of all that weaponry (another likely international weapons open market bazaar forming) disturbs me. I do support sending more military aid to Ukraine, but I wish more thought went into decision-making, especially in light of the vast amount of military equipment we abandoned in Afghanistan and the 20-year US foreign policy failure of regime-change/democracy-building.

Even more disturbing has been the ways in which our politicians are like lemmings, who mindlessly rush to fall in line with the latest hot talking point. First it was the hysteria about the US and NATO establishing a no-fly zone, which alarmed the heck out of me, because that means being at war with Russia and being willing to shoot down Russian aircraft and taking out Russian anti-aircraft assets. The past week or so, it’s been hyperventilating about sending Ukraine MiG jets. It seems certain there will be more military hardware items that will fuel endless media hysteria with the situation in Ukraine.

The absolute most disturbing hot takes in American political and media circles have been the hysterical politicians and pundits demanding we stop the war immediately, as if there’s some magic off-button to make Putin stop his war of aggression. I have no idea what Putin’s going to do and presently what he does certainly determines how long this war drags on.

Some of the same politicians who called for more and more military action during the past 20 years of our “Global War On Terror/Building Democracy Project” now seem overly eager to beat their war drums about Russia. Senator Lindsey Graham, who gets a whole lot of air time on FOX News, has been saber-rattling about “regime change” in Moscow now and while many people may embrace the idea of Putin being gone, they’re missing the reality that Russia has a vast nuclear arsenal and a coup or uncertain control of a nation/state nuclear arsenal of that size would be a very dire world crisis situation. I remember when the Soviet Union collapsed (we were living in Germany at the time) and there were serious concerns about loose nukes within the US foreign policy and military communities, but it seems a lot of people in Washington, who are old enough to remember that, seem to have forgotten. A country with a vast nuclear arsenal that collapses or where there’s no clear governmental structure poses a huge global crisis, but Graham is always rushing on TV to beat his war drum and sound tough.

With all eyes focused on Ukraine, our own domestic problems have been shoved aside and the people who react emotionally aren’t just liberals who run from one cause to the next to virtue-signal, from masks to wrapping themselves in the Ukrainian flag, it’s Republicans in Washington too.

Yes, I see the seriousness of the situation in Ukraine, but when it comes to deciding how much military aid to send or how America responds, well, I prefer calmer heads to prevail and instead, there are a lot of overly emotional politicians reacting instantly to pleas from President Zelensky and a video intended to pull at our heartstrings. Here’s the reality – we need calm people making carefully thought out decisions, especially when it comes to such a serious decision as war and our elected officials should be weighing America’s national interests over any other interests. Zelensky, understandably, wants every possible means to save his country, but America has national interests here at home and around the globe and those need to be weighed carefully too.

At some point the politicians and pundit crowd in Washington need to seriously look back over our post-9/11 foreign policy military adventures and do some deep soul-searching. We left train wrecks all over the Middle East and beyond with this regime change/democracy-building pipedream and in the process squandered trillions of dollars, military equipment, humanitarian aid, and most of all American lives. There is little to show for any of it. And that’s why I am hoping we think more about how much and what kinds of aid we pour into Ukraine and if we have even thought about what happens down the road.

In our present media-driven, hot takes, political culture another important assessment tool that seems to have disappeared is a lessons learned approach, where after-action reports are compiled, analyzed and studied, looking for things that worked and things that didn’t work, then drilling down to see at which levels in an organization the failures occurred and why. Our military and intel agencies seem to skate by the lessons learned approach now and behave just like the politicians in Washington, using deceptive language and sliding on by, as if the debacles never happened.

I hope the military aid to Ukraine is done in close consultation with US military officials and NATO officials and designed to be things the Ukrainian fighters know how to use and that’s it’s weapons & assets that will bolster the type of battles they’re actually fighting. That means I’m hoping there’s strategic and tactical advice accompanying all of this military aid too.

One last comment about the war in Ukraine – the modernized Russian army sure seems to be way less impressive than advertised. The news keeps reporting high-ranking Russian officers (think it’s five generals so far) killed on the battlefield. I saw someone online posted a link to this story at a news site in Estonia: 12 March 2022 – Estonian expert: Russia is losing generals in Ukraine due to its communication failures. Here’s a quote from that short piece:

“Kunnas says the reason to that is that the Russian encrypted communication system had failed. “In today’s militaries, it’s a standard that communications are encrypted,” he says. “The Russian army uses a system called Era. It’s a very smart solution – all communication relies on 4G and 3G networks. What happened in Ukraine was, the Russians themselves destroyed the communication towers – to cut the Ukrainians off from being able to communicate. But the result is, the messages of the Russian army went into the air openly. Even British radio amateurs have been able to listen to Russia’s ‘secret’ messages.””

I haven’t heard any American military analysts mention this yet, so I’m awaiting more information.

Update 3/20/2022, 5:21 pm – I came across another article about the Russian army communication problems:

Russian troops can’t use Era encrypted phone system in Ukraine after destroying 4G masts, suggests expert

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Filed under Foreign Policy, General Interest, Military

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