If you are at all interested in military tactics or, more specifically, in how the Ukrainians are doing so well in their fight against the Russians, you must read Tom Friedman’s editorial “Free Advice for Putin: ‘Make Peace, You Fool’” in the New York Times. He recounts a lengthy conversation with John Arquilla, who recently retired as a distinguished professor of defense analysis at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.
The tactics being employed by the Ukrainians make fascinating reading, even if they are mostly born of necessity. If you’ve wondered how the Ukrainian fighters have done so well against the much larger Russian army, read Friedman’s piece and wonder no more.
Arquilla recounts his three rules of new-age warfare being fought in Ukraine and explains each: 1. Many and small beats large and heavy. 2. Finding always beats flanking. 3. Swarming always beats surging.
I particularly enjoyed learning that one advantage the Ukrainians have is that so many civilians have smartphones and make excellent use of them to report Russian troop locations and movements. “[I]t’s their human sensors — the informal Ukrainian observer corps — that are devastating the Russians. Grandmas with iPhones can trump satellites.” D’oh. New age, indeed.
Tom Clancy would have loved this stuff.
Banner photo: A Russian armored personnel carrier burns amid damaged and abandoned military vehicles after fighting in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Photograph: Marienko Andrew/AP