Asymmetrical Musings 1

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

There are many, many lessons coming out of the Russia-Ukraine war. First one is, when Russia tells you that plan to annex you back into Russia, not only do you need to believe them, you need to convince everyone else in the world they mean what they say. After 2014, the Ukraine began to prepare and there was a massive change in the mindset there. That deserves a full column on its own.

Despite its losses, Russia is determined to regain its former territories and if thwarted now, they will try again later. As long as the current Russia/Russian government exists, it will keep trying. Also, per previous, if Vladimir can’t have the Ukraine now, he may well make it were no one will have it.

Now, on to this morning’s musings. Whether tube, rocket, or other, artillery has proven itself to still be the king of battle. The tank is not dead, but is going to have to continue to adapt to a rapidly changing threat environment. Infantry is not going anywhere either, though training and flexibility are going to be key.

The real key out of all of what we are seeing, however, is ingenuity and mental flexibility. This will be particularly true for anyone who finds themselves occupied, effectively occupied, or threatened with occupation by unfriendly forces be it a rapacious neighbor (cough baltic states taiwan cough) or other. Given all, if I were in such a location, I would be looking at trying to stockpile electronics, 3-D printers, and a few other things. More on that another day, but COTS can win the day.

In any war, battle, or skirmish, the party who thinks fastest laughs last. Yep, borrowed that from John Ringo, but it is true and really is the key to asymmetrical conflict. There was a Ukrainian commercial about shovels that our leadership and intel people missed, that hammered home on the need for fast thinking, innovation, and then decisive action. All based around the common shovel and use of same.

The ability to think, adapt, and overcome is essential to any war, but when you add in the need to set aside conventional thinking and operations, it puts it on a very different level. After all, your opponent may have fighters, nukes, tanks, oh my! You may have few or none. That’s when having a mind that can step outside the box means the difference between success and slavery.

Going back to this discussion of nuclear targeting, I brought up the theory of selective elimination as a bit of humor with some serious undertones. In the example used, Vladimir might not target Washington DC and various state capitals because leaving them intact would do more damage to the U.S. than nuking them. To be honest, I can make a good case for it. That’s another post for another day.

Selective elimination is a tactic useful in asymmetric warfare and long-term warfare. In simplest terms, you target the competent leadership of your enemy and leave the incompetents in place. It can be direct elimination, or it can involve denying competent leadership the chance to showcase what they can do by refusing action to them.

It also can be done by putting that competent leadership into an untenable position dictated by the enemy’s domestic politics. Gen. Cope and Preston Pans comes to mind for that. You can find a good presentation on selective elimination given in the book The Island Worlds by Eric Kotani and John Maddox Roberts. Good series by the way, fun reads.

Now, to bring what you may have thought was a non sequitur (or my lightning fuzzed short term memory issues shining through) back onto topic, think back to the very early days of the war. Think back to the Ukrainians getting inside Russian coms and playing whack-a-general. My question is, were we watching the Ukrainians play a variant of the selective elimination process?

Note that of the ones that got a lot of coverage, the ones killed were those who were out trying to rally and lead their troops. That in and of itself speaks to professionalism if not competence. How many leaders at various levels were recalled, replaced, etc. because they could not successfully engage the Ukrainians.

No, selective elimination by itself won’t win a war or end an occupation. But it will make the territory that much harder to take, much less control. It is but one facet of the lynchpin that is laughing last.

Addendum: Don’t forget, leadership extends from the lowest levels on up. When occupied, look for the competent and effective leaders, officers and NCOs, from the squad on up. Eliminate enough of those rally points and it hamstrings even the most effective of generals.