August 24, 2023
Ukraine’s counteroffensive might yet surprise critics
The rapid Ukrainian breakthrough and advance that many hoped for has not occurred. Media coverage has grown gloomier in recent weeks on the back of fragmentary journalistic accounts from the front and reported intelligence assessments from Western analysts. The news has not been great. The fight against Russia has proved to be bloody and slow — a very hard slog.
But observers would be wise to temper their pessimism. War does not proceed in a linear fashion. Defenders can hold for a long time and then suddenly break, allowing an attacker to make rapid gains before the defense solidifies further to the rear. The Ukrainians aim to generate exactly this effect — and there is reason to think they can. Ukraine’s offensive push is far from over. In fact, it is still in the early stages — just 10 weeks into what is likely to last at least four more months.
Penetrating a modern defense in depth such as the Russians established in southern Ukraine is a tall order for any military. The U.S. military has done it twice in modern memory, both times against Iraq. In 1991, after pummeling the Iraqi forces for 39 days from the air, a U.S.-led coalition of 650,000 troops penetrated and outflanked Iraqi defenses, crushing the Iraqi military in 100 hours. In 2003, a smaller U.S.-led force destroyed a badly degraded Iraqi military within a few weeks.
Read more in The Washington Post.