When the Ukrainian military launched its counteroffensive into occupied territory in Zaporizhzhia, many analysts were at first disappointed that it didn’t seem Ukraine was taking its new Western gear and assembling it into a NATO-style combined arms attack. But truthfully, that was never realistic.
Ukraine doesn’t have the careful set of matched military components found in the U.S., or U.K., or any other army. It’s saddled with a set of castoffs, has-beens, and overruns—an assemblage of the Soviet-era gear it had on hand when Russia invaded, and the Western weapons and vehicles that have arrived in unpredictable fits and starts over the last year and a half. It doesn’t have the air dominance on which Western tactics often depend. It doesn’t have the years of training and repeated practice that it takes to turn combined arms from an easy-to-mouth phrase into a tough-to-execute, but effective, practice.
There was also disappointment that Ukraine wasn’t doing what it did in Kharkiv, where rapid flanking left Russian line forces protecting unimportant hard points, and a quick drive penetrating deep into Russian-controlled territory turned what had been the front lines into a crumbling collection of unsupported positions. We’re only just starting to understand what Ukraine is doing in the south. And what we’re learning … looks pretty good.
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