A Ukrainian missile strike hit a vocational school in Makiivka in the recently annexed Donetsk region, where Russian troops were billeted. The Russian defense ministry acknowledged 89 fatalities, while Ukraine claimed that 400 soldiers were killed. Whatever the figure, the toll was fearsome. President Vladimir Putin ordered an investigation, and a high military commander, whose name has not yet been revealed was dispatched. The official theory was that the strike was facilitated by soldiers calling their relatives on the occasion of the New Year. A backup theory was that locals had tipped off Ukrainian military intelligence. Some blamed the colonel in charge, while others claimed that he was following the others of his superiors and therefore did not disperse his troops. The strike rekindled the ongoing feud between the pro-war military bloggers and the Russian army.
In a scathing article in Military Review (Voyennoye Obozreniye), titled "Incompetence and Unwillingness to Learn from War Experience as the Main Problem of Our Army, Aleksander Staver, a frequent contributor to the site, blames the commanders for displaying a combination of buffoonery and apathy. They continued to take the Ukrainians for fools and the Russian soldiers paid the price for such cockiness. Staver demanded that those responsible be punished as an example to others. Staver is careful to absolve Putin from responsibility. The negligent officers sabotaged Putin, who placed the safety of soldiers above everything else.
Staver's article follows below:
Searching for survivors and bodies under the rubble at Makiivka (Source: Rbc.ru)
Why is the president the only person responsible for everything? Why is it so that any issue that can and must be dealt with by hardly a high-ranking commander or superior cannot be resolved without the personal involvement of President Putin?
Bungling, bordering on treachery occurred in Makiivka, when over 200 people were taken out of action due to the fault of some high-ranking lazy-ass. According to official figures, 89 died there! The figures are not final, as 50 people are still unaccounted for.
More than 200 motivated and trained fighters, who were someone’s fathers, husbands and children died without ever reaching the frontline. How could it be that within reach of not only [enemy’s] MLRS, but also of conventional artillery, the soldiers were settled in a single building? What’s more, the ammunition and 5 tons of fuel were also stored there to make it still more hazardous.
I have just found out that following the report of what happened, President Putin ordered the military and the Investigative Committee to investigate and present the results by January 6 . I wonder if anyone in the conduct of operations area], actually, harbors doubts that the rear is full of traitors? That civilians are leaking information about our troops to the ZSU [the Armed Forces of Ukraine] with a vengeance?
Only fools would take an opponent for a fool
The worst thing that could happen in the army is a clueless executive commander, who takes an enemy for a fool. Ten months of war have taught the personnel that there are no safe places on the front line, or in the rear, nor are there any places where one can forgo a secrecy regime. As one SVO [special military operation] participant put it in a personal conversation, "it’s dangerous for oneself personally and criminal for one’s unit to take an enemy for a fool."
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Any of those commanders currently fighting in Ukraine will be able to tell you precisely the list of elementary rules [governing] housing personnel, weapons and fuel depots. This knowledge they have acquired not from regulations and manuals, the adversary also knows these regulations full well, but from their own blood [-soaked experience] and the blood of their brothers-in-arms.
I am sure there is a very small percentage among the readers of these lines, who have never heard of the dangers of using smartphones and other electronic devices [in the combat zone]. I believe the soldiers also knew everything full well. Thus, the [official] story that the attack [on Makiivka] was due to usage of mobile phones by soldiers looks silly, to put it mildly.
But the version concerning local contacts, [who conveyed data to the ZSU] deserves special attention, because a photograph of the destroyed vocational school building appeared unexpectedly quickly in Ukrainian internet resources. The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine also stated the same thing in its first report. The version is quite probable.
An even greater crime was committed by the commander, who deployed the equipment directly next to the personnel. It’s more or less clear what motivated him. In the event of a combat alert, crews would be able, theoretically speaking, to quickly remove the equipment to safety. But what in practice? Equipment in the zone of artillery operations, is an excellent and even high-priority target.
Finding such a target is easy enough even for satellites. Here is another version of events. Did anyone doubt that the enemy would activate them over the festive period, that he would look for any "weak link", for any opportunity for a resounding victory? Is there a better target than armored vehicles?
Getting back to war experience and of skills of commanders and fighters, here is another example of a recent attack on part of the ZSU on a unit, described by one military correspondent in his Telegram channel,
"For instance, the other day a unit was targeted by the ZSU via UAVs and artillery. The men had been fighting for a long time, so they themselves slept in basements and their equipment was entrenched. Thus, in the end we didn't lose anything or anyone."
The main enemy is incompetence
I am struck by some commanders’ attitudes towards war, even after so many months of fighting. It is some kind of buffoonery; or apathy. And this is rooted in the incompetence of commanders and superiors, the self-assured incompetence. It’s the famous Soviet era principle, "If I’m the boss, you’re the excrement. If you're the boss, I'm the excrement."
Sometimes I get the impression that officers deployed in a war zone (even those who have combat experience acquired in other conflicts) have absolutely no idea of the SVO's specifics. And this war is, indeed, very different from those conducted previously. It’s a hybrid war, reminiscent of World War II, but at the same time so many new methods and forms of warfare are being used that it’s mind boggling.
Isn’t it time to educate not only soldiers and sergeants, but also officers? To educate on precisely those peculiarities of enemy actions that were learned during the course of the SVO. To teach based on examples of the [militia] corps of the [Donetsk and Luhansk] People’s Republics and those [Russian] units that have been fighting since the launch of the SVO. Imagine, how many lives we could have saved if such courses had been organized at the very beginning of the SVO...
There have already been absolutely delusional publications that Russia has decided to overwhelm Ukrainian army units with cadavers [in suicidal human wave assaults] and win the war that way. It’s clear that this is an "version" of the Ukrainian special services. But there are bound to be people who will believe in this nonsense. There will also be those, who will believer that our army is weak.
One more thing. How will the commanders and superiors now look the president in the eye? And not only those, who will be punished after January 6 in an exemplary manner, as a warning to others, but also those whose, whose direct responsibility it is to look for talented and competent commanders and appoint them to appropriate posts. After all, the head of state has been completely sabotaged. President Putin very often talks about the top priority – safeguarding people!
Instead of conclusions
Peace be upon the fallen soldiers, and a speedy recovery to the wounded, condolences to the families and punishment for the guilty.
Any crime, and this is a military crime during combat operations, has a [guilty person’s name, a surname and a title. One shouldn’t think that "war will write everything off," that other events will help to forget the deaths of these servicemen.
An inability to learn through fighting a war, to "absorb" combat experience and incompetence has been and remains our army's major problem.
This problem should not be hushed up, it must be tackled! The term labeled in the combat bulletins as "unnecessary losses in the SVO zone" must disappear! The soldiers' lives must be cherished.
And for those who will be outraged upon reading this article, let me remind you of President Vladimir Putin's words,
"I ask you to take criticism into account and react properly and promptly to it.. It’s understandable that the reaction of people who see problems (and problems in such a large, complex work are, certainly, always present) can also be emotional. But we should, no doubt, hear those, who do not hide existing problems, but strive to contribute to their solution."