From World War III to Ukraine: Are the Russians &#%-(@^ Crazy?

(AP Photo/Jockel Finck, file)

Forgive the silly headline, but it was the best this history nerd could come up with after a recent news report had me going on a deep dive into the bad old days of the Cold War.

Because then, as now, the question must be asked: When it comes to planning wars, are the Russians &#%-(@^ crazy?

Before we get to the nuclear-fueled Cold War craziness, here’s what got my brain going in weird directions.

Even though Russia retreated from its failed attempts to take Ukraine’s two large cities, Kyiv and Kharkiv, and focused its whole offensive effort on the relatively small Donbas region, it’s been slow going.

After two months of heavy fighting, “Russian advances have amounted to maybe six to 10 miles — something of that range,” according to Joint Chiefs chair Gen. Mark Milley. (Yeah, I know Milley is a political hack, but this is an easily verified fact.)

The Donbas fighting, although extremely limited in scope, has been so intense that exhausted Russian forces have made negligible forward progress since July 3.

Moscow’s plan, based on its early blitz-style attacks on Kyiv (from no less than three axes) and Kharkiv, was to knock Ukraine out of the war in a week or two, maybe days. Now Moscow is measuring progress in yards, casualties by the dozens.

Clearly, Russian war planners failed to take little things into consideration — little things like Russia’s own logistical limitations and that the other side might have the temerity to shoot back.

That’s &#%-(@^ crazy — but it’s nothing new.

One of the spoils of winning the Cold War was access to a ton of top secret documents from the Soviet and East German archives, including actual war plans.

Among those documents were detailed plans for the rapid elimination of West Germany — and then the Low Countries, and then France — by Soviet-led Warsaw Pact forces.

The most recent version of those war plans dates to Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika and glasnost period of attempted détente with the West.

The following is from a digital reprint of a 1990s article found originally in Parameters, the U.S. Army’s War College publication:

The East German documents and extensive interviews reveal that Warsaw Pact forces planned a massive offensive through West Germany along five different axes, with a sixth possible under certain conditions.6 It must be emphasized that these were not merely contingency plans—the kind which most military establishments prepare to cover possible outbreaks of conflict. Pact offensive plans had the participating units already assigned, the goals specified, and the potential nuclear targets identified. All that was required for execution was last-minute updates and mobilization of the required units.

In other words, this was no mere paper exercise but genuine plans for how to initiate, and win, World War III.

Also for our VIPs: UKRAINE WAR: Kyiv on the Counterattack (Maybe)

East German troops featured heavily in Soviet thinking, and were expected to rapidly take northern West Germany and mainland Denmark:

Lothar Ruehl, former head of the West German Ministry of Defense Planning Staff, noted perceptively that such a stringent deadline for reaching the contested objective — 100 hours — implies extraordinary effort and the rapid destruction of NATO forces positioned to block such an offensive: “Staff officers of the Bundeswehr who are familiar with Warsaw Pact operational planning maintain that it would have been difficult to conduct an . . .offensive such as this . . . [and that] in order to be successful, the Warsaw Pact would have needed much larger forces and it would have had to use chemical and nuclear arms at an early stage of the campaign.” East German documents reveal that between 78 and 90 tactical nuclear weapons with warheads ranging from three to 100 kilotons were available to support the East German troops.

Moscow was living in a fantasyland where the East German army would happily partake in the destruction of their German brethren with the use of nuclear weapons and persistent chemical agents.

Somehow, Warsaw Pact forces would drive through the nuclear rubble in record time, occupying almost all of West Germany in one week and almost all of Western Europe just three weeks after that, despite NATO’s nuclear attacks on Soviet logistics.

Hitler’s lightning campaigns against Poland and France took six weeks each, against opponents who had no idea what was about to hit them. For the Soviets to conquer half of a well-defended (and nuclear-armed) continent in four weeks was absolutely &#%-(@^ crazy.

I’d add that there’s little reason to believe that Soviet logistics were any better then than Russia’s are now. In the post-Cold War years, we learned a lot about the reality of Soviet Cold War forces, and logistics was one of their big weaknesses.

But as we saw from that treasure trove of secret documents, the Soviets believed they had a viable plan for winning WWIII quickly, if not exactly easily.

The thing about plans is that they can take on a life of their own. Imperial Germany happily helped lead the way into World War I, thinking that the Schlieffen Plan was a genuine operational guide for beating France in six weeks. But the Schlieffen Plan was no such thing; it was merely a paper exercise demonstrating that if Germany found themselves needing to beat France quickly, they’d need a much bigger army.

The Germans didn’t raise a bigger army. They went to war regardless. Clearly, being &#%-(@^ crazy about military plans isn’t just a Russian thing.

War plans — even totally bat-guano &#%-(@^ crazy ones — can cause leaders to make really bad decisions, even to launch losing wars, because they mistake the paper dreams for real-world reality.

Looking at the Soviet Union’s plans for World War III is almost enough to give a person retroactive nightmares all the way back to the early ’80s.

And they’re certainly enough to give a person a perfect understanding of how and why Vladimir Putin launched a war that might prove Pyrrhic at best.


Trending on PJ Media Videos