Retired General Barry McCaffrey said last week that while the Russian military can do a lot of damage, they are royally botching Putin’s war against Ukraine:
“You know, this entire Ukrainian intervention has called into question the capabilities of the Russian armed forces, which I do not underestimate,” McCaffrey began. “They’re still a large, reasonably well-equipped fighting force. They took on an operation they didn’t understand, they had bad assumptions, their command and control has broken down but they’re still a threat.”
…”the generals have lost control of this massive formation,” McCaffery replied after briefly laughing. “This is bizarre behavior, abandoned vehicles, no vehicle track recovery units, very little, apparently, effective use of airpower in coordination with ground power. They’re going back to being an artillery army, pounding and encircling cities and trying to starve them out. So I think the generals are getting desperate” [Tom Boggioni, “Barry McCaffrey: Putin’s Generals Have ‘Lost Control’ in Ukraine and Fear He’ll Have Them Shot,” Raw Story, 2022.03.08].
If we want to stop the Russian’s shambling but nonetheless devastating invasion of Ukraine, General McCaffrey says that NATO would have to go beyond a no-fly zone and go after the Russians on the ground. McCaffrey says NATO could win open war with Russia:
“NATO can clearly knock the Russians into the next world in a 30-day air campaign. They can take out their ground elements, which are still inviting targets. So the question is, is NATO there? The answer is no. And is the president prepared to risk escalation? I think the answer is, no. We need to understand — I don’t think World War III is in the offing. I think that’s nonsense. Putin is so over his head. 60 percent of his ground capability is in Ukraine and half his air power. So it’s a question of are we going to watch Ukraine go under or not?”
…”The Russians would be squashed if they tried to attack Poland, Romania, never mind a massive movement to take Western Europe. It’s not even in the cards. However, what is in the cards is that NATO has now pulled itself together in dramatic fashion. I think the Biden’s team been brilliant in the way they handled this, moved forward as an alliance, not as a U.S. unilateral move” [Tom Boggioni, “Retired Gen. McCaffrey Stuns MSNBC Hosr with Plan to Cripple Putin’s Army in Ukraine,” Raw Story, 2022.03.12].
Senator Mike Rounds said the day after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, “We don’t really want to get into an armed conflict with another nuclear power at this point,” but General McCaffrey says mutually assured destruction still checks the possibility of Putin responding with nuclear weapons:
“I cannot imagine a lieutenant colonel in the Russian Air Force telling Mr. Putin, this is a good idea. We have tactical nuclear weapons sitting on boomer submarines of the U.S. Navy that within 15 minutes could respond to a tactical attack. No one in their right mind thinks you can win a nuclear conflict.”
“The Russians have written their doctrine that says escalate to de-escalate. mumbo jumbo,” he added. “They nuke, what? Ukrainian forces, Polish forces, U.S. forces and then say now we want to talk? I don’t think he’s even remotely going to do that. If there was a giant nuclear exchange, it would be armageddon for the civilized world” [Boggioni, 2022.03.13].
Senator Mike Rounds says we are doing whatever we can to help Ukraine. General McCaffrey says we can fight and win a ground war with Russia to keep Ukraine free. At what point do we put our military where our mouth is and end Putin’s war and warmaking capacity?