Eleven US generals got killed in Vietnam. US involvement in that war lasted over a decade. So on average the US lost about one a year in what was an era defining conflict. Russia has already lost nine in two months… For once they’re not even executing them themselves (not yet anyway).

Why is this happening?

  • The Russians are not using secure communication lines. It’s relatively easy for the Ukrainians to locate high ranking Russian officers.
  • The Ukrainians have the weaponry and the skills to take out these targets
  • The Russians are not allowing what the Germans call ‘Auftragstaktik’. Something that could be translated as ‘mission command’. This means that decision making power and initiative are very centralized in the Russian army. Lower ranking officers wait for instructions from higher ups to do anything. When they receive orders that are not compatible with the situation in the field they will – probably very reluctantly – just do as they are told, no matter how futile their efforts. This also means that generals need to be closer to the front lines to direct troops because nobody else takes that initiative or is even allowed or trained to do so. This makes Russian generals more vulnerable
  • This is also the result of a deep seated disdain for the Ukrainians. Russian arrogance is also to blame
  • It’s also because of pure nonchalance. The Russians are simply taking heaving losses in stride. They don’t seem to care
  • Given the abysmal performance of the Russian army one may wonder if losing these generals matters much. If these were the masterminds behind this campaign then perhaps Russia is better off without them

The accompanying picture is a screenshot from of my favorite movies, ‘Der Untergang’. In this scene general Weidling has to defend himself against a charge of cowardice over the phone while bombs are dropping all around him. The chaos and absurdity of that scene reminds me of the embarrassing situation of the Russians.