There is a lot going on in #Ukraine at the moment. The macro story is that Russia appears to have lost the initiative at every level. But there is also an interesting story to be told about Ukrainian campaign planning. 1/24 Image
2/ The Ukrainian offensive in the north east is continuing to exploit a bumbling and incoherent Russian defensive scheme to the east of Kharkiv. Thousands of square kilometres of Ukrainian territory have been recaptured, and many towns and their inhabitants have been liberated. Image
3/ Even the Oskil Rver defensive line, rapidly established by the Russians, appears to be crumbling. Deception and operational art have been central to Ukrainian preparations for their achieving surprise against the Russians in this new phase of the war.
4/ Deception. That it was able to exploit this opportunity indicates that Ukraine had an excellent plan to deceive Russian overhead collection assets as well as their tactical reconnaissance and surveillance.
5/ As one military interlocutor in Kyiv confirmed, Russian tactical reconnaissance in the east of Ukraine has been poor. It has generally consisted of ‘advance to contact’ with infantry and armour, rather than through the use of dedicated air and ground reconnaissance assets.
6/ This means that the environment is ripe for tactical and even operational surprise, something the Ukrainians clearly recognised in their planing for the Kharkiv offensive.
7/ Operational Design. While the Russian focus was primarily on its operations to defend its holdings in the south, and conduct small scale attacks in the Donbas, #Ukraine planned and launched an operation in the north.
8/ This is not to say that Ukraine’s operations in the south were a feint. They were not, and this was recently confirmed to me by a senior Ukrainian military planner during my visit to Kyiv. The north & south are mutually supporting offensives in a larger operational design.
9/ Operational design is an important component of military professionalism. Through good operational design, military commanders and their staffs’ sequence and orchestrate tactical goals and actions to meet desired strategic and political outcomes.
10/ Ironically, it was the Russians in the early 20th who were early advocates for such operational thinking about military operations. This is not obvious with the current Russian military performance, which has demonstrated historic levels of incompetence and stupidity. Image
11/ For the Ukrainians, their operational design for the concurrent south and north eastern campaigns will have considered the desired outcomes and worked backwards from there. These outcomes would have included political aims (both domestic and international) and military.
12/ The Ukrainians will have carefully wargamed the best times to conduct their offensives. It would have been based on intelligence on Russian defensive dispositions, the location and quantities of Russian forces held in reserve, as well as logistics and key supply routes.
13/ What might this mean for the moving days or weeks?
14/ First, the concurrent Ukrainian offensives have totally compromised the Russian operations in the Donbas. It compromises Russian supply routes and introduces a larger psychological issue with Russian soldiers and commanders fighting in the east. Image
15/ Second, it will be difficult for the Russians to continue to fight in the east without responding to the threat that Ukraine now poses to their rear areas and logistics. This problem will only get worse if the Ukrainians are able to continue their advance across the Oskil.
16/ To respond, the Russians will have to reorient their forces in the east, and possibly pull troops from the south. This effectively kills any Russian offensive capability across the east and south.
17/ It also creates other opportunities for Ukraine. Because of a Russian reinforcement ‘shell game’, it is possible that we could see cascading Russian tactical withdrawals and failures in various regions as a consequence.
18/ This, and the resulting losses in equipment and personnel, compromises Russia’s capacity to dictate the pace and location of operations henceforth. The Ukrainians have seized the initiative in this war.
19/ Having surprised the Russians, the Ukrainians have generated shock among Russian troops and commanders. This period of shock is generally a productive time for those on the offensive.
20/ It during this period of shock when Ukraine can seize the most ground, and destroy the largest number of enemy troops. And it is exactly what they are doing. The Ukrainians, using mission command, are operating inside the Russian tactical and operational decision loops.
21/ While like all offensives, exhaustion and outrunning supply lines will eventually slow the Ukrainian advance, this one probably has a little way to go. The Ukrainians seem to sense the potential for a larger Russian collapse in the east.
22/ Not only has this been a stunning feat of arms, it has answered the question many of us posed several months ago about Ukrainian offensive capacity. The Ukrainian Armed Forces have demonstrated emphatically in the last few weeks their offensive mindset and capability.
23/ We will be studying this campaign for decades into the future. But for now, we need to ensure the west continues to provide the equipment and munitions for this campaign, and for those that will inevitably follow. End. Image
24/ Thank you to the following whose images I used in this thread: @UAWeapons @War_Mapper @DefenceU @IAPonomarenko @TheStudyofWar @criticalthreats

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More from @WarintheFuture

Sep 30
Today’s speech by Putin is a milestone in the Russo-Ukraine War. It may be useful for Putin in a domestic politics sense. But, as has been the case throughout this war, it is terrible strategy for Russia. A thread on the implications of Putin’s latest ‘bold’ move. 1/25 Image
2/ The full text of the speech in English. I recommend reading it all - while providing a couple of breaks to vomit. It is anti-Anglo-Saxon, anti-LGBTIQ, anti-‘elites’, anti-West, and anti-US. And anti-Ukraine of course. en.kremlin.ru/events/preside…
3/ The principle audience for the speech was the domestic one. Putin used the speech as a war update, with the message that Russian progress so far is significant, securing 4 regions of Ukraine to return to the Russian motherland. Image
Read 25 tweets
Sep 28
The past week has seen a deluge of images in the media which show Russians being forcefully conscripted or fleeing their nation to avoid military service. 1/23 🧵
2/ Despite some predictions of doom for Putin because of this, I think we need to be more prudent in our planning. The key question should be: If the Russians can mobilise the hundreds of thousands of soldiers they are calling up, what does this look like?
3/ First, they need to induct the quantity of soldiers needed. Many young Russian men are departing in a mass exodus from Russia. But millions of others will not have the means to leave Russia to escape their draft notices.
Read 23 tweets
Sep 26
In her book, "Tell Me How this Ends", American scholar @RobinsonL100 posed a fundamental question about the 2003 Iraq War, and indeed all wars. What are the victory conditions to conclude a war & what are the necessary actions in its immediate aftermath? 1/19
2/ While there is little prospect of the Russo-Ukraine war being over this year, it may now be time to ask such questions about this conflict. And the most important question, because this outcome looks very likely, what happens when Ukraine wins?
abc.net.au/news/2022-09-2…
3/ This is not an unusual question to ask while a war is still raging. Clever national leaders & strategists in conflicts including the 20th century Word Wars have begun thinking about, and planning for, post-war conditions and arrangements well before the last battle is fought.
Read 19 tweets
Sep 24
A few people have recently asked me about my approach to using Twitter. In essence, I love the ‘mission to civilise’ approach (from The Newsroom). This means that I focus on positive use of social media, while encouraging professional discourse and disagreements. 1/7
2/ It is important that we can have robust debates and generate diverse views here. It democratises both access to information and the ability to participate in debates. We all have a responsibility to nurture this environment.
3/ At the same time, this medium is an opportunity to amplify new and different voices. This is so important, especially for those who have a lot of followers. We should use the influence this provides to assist others to get their views into the wider discourse.
Read 7 tweets
Sep 21
The speech from Putin today is a careful balancing act of a leader under pressure, who is trying to: 1. please hardliners and Russian milbloggers; 2. not displease the general populace; 3. appease the military; 4. give the impression he is not losing a war. 1/20 🧵
2/ The full text is worth a read. It demonstrates the range of interests that Putin is appealing to. It is also Putin’s version of a war update to the Russian people. en.kremlin.ru/events/preside…
3/ He describes the importance of the referendums in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. This is nothing more than fig leaves for the Russians to claim their raping, pillaging and murdering thugs in #Ukraine are ‘defending Russia’
Read 20 tweets
Sep 20
The last two weeks have answered a central question of the Russo-Ukraine War; can Ukraine undertake the offensives required to liberate their people & reoccupy their territory? They have answered this question emphatically with their Kharkiv offensive. 1/19 Image
2/ During this offensive, I had the opportunity to visit #Ukraine and to speak with high level military and government officials. I took away three key observations from the visit. Image
3/ First, the Ukrainians are competent. This is a gross understatement. No military this century has had to fight across all the domains of war concurrently, and do so against a larger and better armed adversary. kyivindependent.com/national/with-…
Read 19 tweets

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