“Pre-Revolutionary Situation” in the UAF

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 3/13/2013

“Pre-Revolutionary Situation” in the UAF

By J.Hawk

An excerpt from an open letter to the President, PrimeMinister, and the Rada by the commander of the 20th MotorizedvInfantry Battalion of the 93rd Separate Motorized Infantry Brigade,Colonel V. Pokusa:

“The UAF as a system are in a classic pre-revolutionary
situation where the lower ranks, who have already experienced the reality of
combat operations and life at the front, cannot and do not want to fight under
this kind of leadership, while the highest ranks are incapable of fundamentally
reforming themselves. One way or the other, the crisis of military leadership
will unavoidably, and in accordance with the laws of dialectical development,
have to be resolved, otherwise the armed forces as a whole cannot exist in its
current grossly ineffective state. This is yet another argument in favor of the
political leadership immediately taking up the reform of the armed forces.
Otherwise, should this process adopt a revolutionary form, the consequences may
be unpredictable. The mass of mobilized soldiers is liable to stick its
bayonets into the ground and go home, while the mass of ideologically-motivated
volunteers is liable to stick its bayonets into the political apparatus of the
state, which is after all responsible for everything that happens in the
country, including in its armed forces.

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The current military leadership, being partly aware of the
situation, is trying to contain the situation by releasing from service the entire
mass of previously mobilized soldiers and officers who have acquired combat experience.
Although the logic of war dictates the necessity of retaining these
battle-hardened cadres by motivating them to remain in service.”

This is a part of a far longer letter by several contributors,
all of which focus on the same set of problems. One is left with a picture of a
really badly organized military effort which is disjointed at every imaginable
level—tactical, operational, strategic. Officers can’t lead, soldiers don’t
want to follow, and there are shortages of every possible kind. One crucial
factor that Pokusa mentions is the question of moral ascendancy. He flat out
says that Ukrainian commanders at operational and strategic levels have a “fear
of the adversary”, in other words of Novorossia’s armed forces, which leads to
a lack of faith in their own forces and enables Novorossia to undertake pretty
risky operations with a high probability of success.

However, this is yet another of many “what is to be done”-style
pieces to appear in the Ukrainian media. There is no shortage of good advice
aimed at Poroshenko at Yatsenyuk. None of it has any likelihood of ever being
adopted. The level of effort required to reform any aspect of the Ukrainian
state is quite beyond the level of competence of the country’s leadership.

For that reason one of the crucial tests is whether Ukraine
will go through with demobilization. The more hawkish Ukrainian officers, of whom
Pokusa is one, want to conduct the war to a victorious conclusion, and they
know perfectly well the demobilization will knee-cap the UAF’s fighting
ability. At the same time, is extending the one-year mobilization period even
remotely plausible? No matter how much money these reservists are offered? Considering
the growing number of reports and complaints of drunkenness among UAF’s
soldiers (the photos here are pretty revealing—this is supposed to be an army at war???), it doesn’t look like extending anyone’s term of service would be
particularly attractive at this point. Therefore Poltorak’s move to demobilize
may be mainly due to the recognition that the UAF is at a breaking point, and
the demobilization is the safest thing to do politically.

Pokusa is right when he mentions the “pre-revolutionary situation” within the UAF, but he fails to notice that his own attitudes are also
promoting it. Ukraine needs and wants peace, as much as Russia did in 1917. It
was the Kerensky’s government blindness to that obvious fact that led to the
October Revolution. If Ukraine’s leaders are tempted to deal with the Donbass
through military means one more time, they may have a genuine revolution on
their hands.

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