Not Built for Purpose: The Russian Military’s Ill-fated Force Design

Addressing vulnerability and promoting security
Posted Jun 16, 2022 | War on the Rocks, Michael Kofman, Rob Lee

President Putin had assumed that Ukraine would quickly surrender, and regime change could be conducted without the need to plan and organize for a major war. In their commentary for War on the Rocks, Michael Kofman and Rob Lee examine the major tradeoffs and resultant shortcomings in Russian force design. This is well-suited to short, high-intensity campaigns defined by a heavy use of artillery, but poorly designed for a sustained occupation, or a grinding war of attrition, which would require a large share of Russia’s ground forces, which is what the conflict in Ukraine has demanded. The Russian military does not have the numbers available to easily adjust or rotate forces if a substantial amount of combat power gets tied down in a war. The resulting debacle proceeds from the intersection of failed Russian political assumptions with those of the armed forces regarding the forces that should be made available for a war of this scale.


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