The Ukrainian military has abandoned tactics learned under U.S. military tutelage since the start of the war in Ukraine, going back to old battle methods as its latest counterattacks suffered missteps, according to The New York Times.
Initial operations of the summer counteroffensive progressed more slowly than Western defense officials and analysts expected as Ukraine’s forces struggled to penetrate dense minefields on the edges of Russian-occupied territory under fire, according to the NYT. Now, Ukrainian commanders have ordered their troops to revert back to a familiar artillery-heavy strategy after the U.S. began this year training small rotations of Ukrainian troops in complicated Western maneuvers.
Ukraine has retaken a handful of villages and moved miles into Russian-controlled territory, according to the NYT. But, the advances pale next to the quick, sweeping gains achieved in the Kharkiv and Kherson offensives in 2022. (RELATED: Senate Kills Effort To Set Up Independent Watchdog For Ukraine Aid)
In the south of Ukraine, Western-trained forces are prosecuting a second front focusing on small-scale attacks to poke holes in Russian lines, according to the NYT.
“The counteroffensive itself hasn’t failed; it will drag on for several months into the fall,” Michael Kofman, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the NYT.
Western militaries, led by the U.S., hope to instill NATO doctrine into the Ukrainian army as they devote billions in weapons and equipment to Ukraine and send troops to train the Ukrainian soldiers, according to the NYT. That includes making changes to the command structure — such as empowering enlisted personnel to make operational decisions in the heat of battle — and embracing synchronized infantry, artillery and armor attacks.
It also means maintaining an offensive posture and prioritizing efficiency, according to the NYT. Western leaders saw the artillery-dependent attrition strategy of the Bakhmut campaign as unsustainable for the long term, risking severe depletion of ammunition supplies.
So far, the U.S. has sent more than $43 billion worth of weapons to Ukraine, according to a Department of Defense (DOD) fact sheet. However, battlefield testing has called into question Western efforts to transform the Ukrainian military into a fully-formed NATO fighting force, according to the NYT.
The units, totaling about 36,000 troops, received just four to six weeks of combined arms training and met with setbacks at the outset, according to the NYT, citing U.S. officials and analysts who recently visited the front lines. As much as 20% of equipment sent to the front was lost in the first two weeks.
One unit delayed a nighttime operation until the morning, giving up its advantage, while others failed to plot attacks along cleared paths.
“Arguably, the problem was in the assumption that with a few months of training, Ukrainian units could be converted into fighting more the way American forces might fight, leading the assault against a well-prepared Russian defense, rather than helping Ukrainians fight more the best way they know how,” Koffman told the NYT.
DOD did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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