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Stepping Back ... Slowly
The War in Ukraine (2014-2022)
In the early days of the present phase of the present war in Ukraine, myriad military movements made much work for the makers of military maps. Now, however, that both sides have embraced position warfare, the combat cartographers spend their days hanging out in pool halls, pitching pennies on street corners, and joyriding with their hoodlum friends.
For months, battle bloggers managed to avoid this sad and sorry fate by predicting the imminent start of a grand, war-winning offensive. As there are (at least) two sides to this conflict, they differed on the question of who would play the role of George S. Patton in this grand melodrama. At the same time, the pundits agreed on the essential questions of “what” (beaucoup tanks), “when” (as soon as the ground is hard enough), and “why” (to win a war-winning victory.)
Of late, however, the great offenders have begun to file the sharp edges off of their predictions. While holding fast to the word “offensive,” they have been telling their readers, viewers, and listeners that the big push might be much smaller than previously advertised, might take place at a later date, and might even take an unfamiliar form. A few have gone so far as to claim that the recent reconquest of several blocks of Bakhmut constitutes the grand offensive of which the prophets spoke.
If position warfare persists, or (better yet) the war in Ukraine ends quickly, this exercise in redefinition might lead the big push pushers to a useful epiphany. Mars, they might realize, has songs on his MP3 player other than Das Panzer Lied.
That said, I cannot rule out the possibility of a grand offensive à la Guderian. Indeed, as we live in a universe rich in irony, I would not be completely surprised if the tanks began to roll soon after the boys stopped crying “wolf!” (or, as the case may be, “bear!”)