Ukraine’s forces and firepower are misallocated, U.S. officials say

Ukraine’s forces and firepower are misallocated, U.S. officials say

The New York Times reports:

Ukraine’s grinding counteroffensive is struggling to break through entrenched Russian defenses in large part because it has too many troops, including some of its best combat units, in the wrong places, American and other Western officials say.

The main goal of the counteroffensive is to cut off Russian supply lines in southern Ukraine by severing the so-called land bridge between Russia and the occupied Crimean Peninsula. But instead of focusing on that, Ukrainian commanders have divided troops and firepower roughly equally between the east and the south, the U.S. officials said.

As a result, more Ukrainian forces are near Bakhmut and other cities in the east than are near Melitopol and Berdiansk in the south, both far more strategically significant fronts, officials say.

American planners have advised Ukraine to concentrate on the front driving toward Melitopol, Kyiv’s top priority, and on punching through Russian minefields and other defenses, even if the Ukrainians lose more soldiers and equipment in the process.

Only with a change of tactics and a dramatic move can the tempo of the counteroffensive change, said one U.S. official, who like the other half a dozen Western officials interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Another U.S. official said the Ukrainians were too spread out and needed to consolidate their combat power in one place.

American officials’ criticisms of Ukraine’s counteroffensive are often cast through the lens of a generation of military officers who have never experienced a war of this scale and intensity.

Moreover, American war doctrine has never been tested in an environment like Ukraine’s, where Russian electronic warfare jams communications and GPS, and neither military has been able to achieve air superiority.

American officials said Ukraine has another month to six weeks before rainy conditions force a pause in the counteroffensive. Already in August, Ukraine has postponed at least one offensive drive because of rain. [Continue reading…]

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