Saturday 17 December 2022

From Mark Galeotti's review in The Times of Owen Matthew's book, Overreach


'The invasion also took the military by surprise: this was a war that was not planned by the professionals in the general staff, but brainstormed by Putin’s circle of spooks and yes-men, and foisted on the soldiers at the last minute. Decades of thinking about how to wage a modern war, libraries of dense theoretical literature, the hard-won lessons of past conflicts and massive exercises were all ignored. So too were all the indications that Ukraine was not the frail fake-state of Putin’s imagination governed by a drug-addicted clown and ready to welcome invaders as liberators.

'If there is one criticism to be made of this book it is that, propelled by its own narrative momentum, it does rather skate over quite how crucial it was that the military professionals had so little input into the plan and opportunity properly to prepare. A huge force had been assembled on Ukraine’s borders, but most of the soldiers assumed they were there to threaten, not to invade. The combat management unit, which typically would be established months before any big operation to co-ordinate preparations and stockpile everything necessary, was formed only a day or two before the invasion. This had a grave impact on Russian morale and discipline as well as their operational effectiveness when they were suddenly thrown into the fray.'

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