Military Strategy Magazine - Volume 8, Issue 1

Volume 8, Issue 1, Summer 2022 2 It would be negligent in the extreme if this editorial was not to comment on the War in Ukraine which resulted from the Russian invasion on the 24th of February. The really interesting thing to comment on would be that by the 30th of February it was evident that the Russians were not going to capture Kyiv with ease, or indeed overrun of all Ukraine within the few days that many military experts had asserted. War has a way of not conforming to men's expectations in the same way that politics often reveals unexpected outcomes, such as a BREXIT or the election of Donald Trump and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Betting on horse racing is a more certain form of skill than betting on the outcome of major or even minor armed conflict. So what? Prediction is a fool’s game, yet predictions run wild in the swamp of international relations expertise currently extant where writers tell us what will happen and what we all should do to make it happen or to change it. Worse still was the failure of the same community to have an accurate understanding of Russian military capability in terms of being able to explain success and failure, which at the time of writing it still clearly has not. The failures are variously attributed to “cheap Chinese tires” which are presumably the same tires driving Chinese trucks all over China, to corruption, to “Putin’s inner circle” lying to him. Very little attention has been paid to the actual time and space problems inherent to the practical aspects of military strategy. In short, almost all extant commentaryhas lacked the lens and context that classical military strategic understanding contains, even including Jomini’s thoughts on how close a capital city is to the enemy's border. Russia’s conduct to date may well have sound reasons not obvious to anyone but themselves, but the failure to close the Ukrainian western land borders seems odd as does an overall effort not to isolate Kyiv prior to any attempted capture. If Russia really does view the operational level as providing the bridge between strategy and tactics, then the bridge fell very early in the process. Thus, the readers of Military Strategy Magazine live in interesting times, not because the War in Ukraine provides evidence of the realities of military strategy but because it demonstrates what little wisdom real leaders seem to apply to real decisions. Yes, if the war was only going to last three days as Russia kicked in the door and the whole rotten structure would come crashing to paraphrase Hitler’s 1941 prediction on the Soviet Union, then any plan, however, ill-conceived should have worked. Conversely, any bad and poorly executed plan can be stymied by any reasonably determined effort, skilled or not. The war now in progress has far from run its course but students of military strategy should hold back from attempting to be those standing on the shoulders of giants in order to see further when little is being done well, thus the giants may be entirely absent. William F. Owen Editor, Military Strategy Magazine May 2022 A Note From The Editor