The Russian Army is a Uniformed Rabble, Not A Professional Army
In November of 2001, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov announced plans for long-overdue reforms to the Russian Army. The new army would be a scaled-down and and more professional army of armored forces who would be paid well, equipped well, and trained well. This was supposed to all happen by 2010, which is bullet quick by Russian bureaucratic standards. They were also going to abolish conscription beginning in 2004. Nearly a year and a half later in March of 2002, the transformation of the new Russian army would begin with a Paratrooper division which is generally thought to be among the Russian army’s best troops.
The Russian military experts opined in the media that there was much to fear in this Russian army of the future.
Twenty years later and an invasion of Ukraine makes it’s patently obvious that all of that media hype was complete bull s***. The Russian army of 2022 is still the Russian army of 2001. And that army is still the army of the Soviet Union in the 90s, badly trained and equipped and led by incompetent leaders when they are led at all. It is not a modern professional army that in any way could be called a “peer” of the US, it is a rabble driven like cattle into draft inductions centers and put in ill fiting uniforms.
Failing At Everything a Professional, Modern Army is Supposed to be Good At
First, we watched the Russian army throw sound military doctrine out the window and invade Ukraine in the wrong season of the year, with the wrong kind of army and with too few troops.
Then we witnessed the total failure of the Russian army to conduct a Combined Arms Operation with the correct combination of infantry, armor, offensive and defensive fires, engineers, aviation, and joint capabilities like Special Operations Forces and naval assets. Within a week their offensive was grinding to a halt in deep mud and choked roads blocked now with blown-up tanks, trucks and APCs.
Then we watched the Russian army totally fail in the art of logistics and supply, with troops being given expired rations, running out of fuel and even water while suffering casualties from frostbite and hypothermia. Immobilized now by their own incompetence they were incessantly bombed by drones both day and night while their own air force was no where to be seen.
Then, we saw this rabble routing(Don’t believe the nonsense about an orderly retreat) and leaving behind tanks, APCs, trucks, personal weapons and even discarding their uniforms in favor of civilian clothes.
Finally, we are beginning to see the last failure of this mob the Russians tried to pass off as a modern army in the towns and villages retaken by Ukrainian forces and finding hundreds of civilians executed and either left in the streets to rot or dumped in mass graves.
The Russian Army May Be The Worst Led Army in the World. Iraq And Afghanistan Battling For Second Place
This is a failure of leadership in that army. Either a failure to stop atrocities by soldiers taking reprisals against civilians, or by the actual encouragement by their own leaders. Those failures of leadership are readily apparent when we look at the number of generals and colonels killed at the very front of the fighting. In just six weeks they have lost more brass hats in combat than the US did in 20 years of the War on Terror. We have lost just two, one to a Green on Blue attack in Afghanistan and another at the Pentagon during the 9/11 attacks.
Taking nothing from the Ukrainian forces who killed these Russian generals and colonels, they still had to present themselves as targets first, and that they did quite frequently. Instead of being in the Rear With The Gear, leading the overall effort, their senior ranking officers had to go to the front to get things done because their underlings were proving to be incompetent, promoted on their loyalty to the regime rather than their professional talent as tacticians and soldiers.
The Russian army also lacks a professional corps of non-commissioned officers, sergeants that enforce discipline in the ranks, and have the knowledge and experience to train the pea-green conscripts that make up the bulk of an army in the field.
More than anything else, this explains the murders of these civilians, a total breakdown of leadership either by its absence, by bad example, or by explicit order to commit mass murder. I suspect it is a combination of all three. And this too is nothing new for the Russian army. The stories of their conduct against civilians in Poland, Romania, Hungary, and Germany in WWII are tales of bestial cruelty. Likewise in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Also in the wars in Georgia and Chechnia in the 1990s.
No one can say, “The Russians would never do such a thing!” without it being a joke, except in Russia where they live in a world where they routinely do horrific things to others and even themselves and then refuse to believe they are capable of such things.
Hopefully, the invasion of Ukraine will bring NATO countries out of their la-la land stupor and rebuild their militaries to a credible deterrence, because while the Russian army isn’t especially deadly when fighting another army, they do engage in the wholesale slaughter of unarmed civilians, which may their nearest peer on a modern battlefield.