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General Mark Hertling: Russia’s Awful Army

September 14, 2022
Notes
Transcript

Ukraine’s advances are due to Western weapons, and also American training during the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. But Ukraine can also credit the Russian Army, which has been debased and corrupted by senior officers and political leaders. Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling (Ret.) joins Charlie Sykes today.

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This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
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  • Speaker 1
    0:00:30

    two. Welcome to the Bulwark podcast on Charlie Sykes yesterday on a CNN retired Lieutenant General Mark Hurling, who’s a CNN military analyst, and former commanding general of the US Army, Europe, and the Seventh Army. Talked about the extraordinary counter offensive by the Ukrainians that have driven the Russians back. This is what he had to say.
  • Speaker 3
    0:01:01

    But this was all about a brilliant advance resulting from things that we’ve been talking about from the very beginning. Solid maneuver plan, deception, advanced weapons, use of intelligence, leadership, and morale. That’s what Ukraine Army is bringing to this fight and they’re going up against a force that has extremely poor morale, bad leadership, dysfunctional logistics, and the inability to have practiced or trained on what they’re trying to do. But Having said all those things, there’s still a lot of fighting to go. I do not count me in with those who are saying this is gonna be over anytime soon.
  • Speaker 3
    0:01:36

    And
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:36

    joining us on today’s podcast is General Mark Hurling. Thank you so much for coming back.
  • Speaker 4
    0:01:41

    Hey, good day, Charles. It’s good to be with you again. Thanks for allowing me the the microphone for a while to continue to tell it, the great things Ukraine is doing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:49

    Well, let’s say do a deep dive into all of this, you know. You you said yesterday, you were euphoric about you Korean’s advances in Kharkiv and and Kersan, you know, as well as the continued, you know, active defense. But of course, you raise these caution flags. So I wanna do a deep dive into all of this, all of the things that are going on and and what you’re seeing including the the cautionary notes that you are sounding. So First of all, let’s just step back.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:16

    Has the tide of the war turned?
  • Speaker 4
    0:02:20

    Technically, I would say yes. And I’d almost also advanced that it’s turned operationally. Ukraine is controlling the tempo of the operations. There have been what the military or what theorists like claws, which call a culminating point, has occurred both in Russia culminating on the offense that occurred way back in March and April, but there’s also a culmination of the defense. And what I mean by that, Charlie, is that’s a time when a commander assesses the capability to stop defending and go on the attack.
  • Speaker 4
    0:02:58

    Or when the attacker says, hey, I’ve I’ve actually drained myself of all my resources and energy. So in order to to regain some initiative, I have to go on the defense. So it’s whether or not you’re defending or attacking, conducting offensive operations or sense of operations is critically important because you can certainly a trip a force in the defense but you normally can’t win a war. You have to go on the offensive to do that. And what we’ve seen over the last several months and now most recently over the last six or seven days, Ukraine has gone on the offensive.
  • Speaker 4
    0:03:39

    And they are attacking in three different areas, both in Kharkiv, in the in the north, they’re sown in the south, and they’re even conducting very successful counter attacks
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:49

    and what I would call hasty defense operations in the Don Bus. So what has happened? When we look at the success of this counter offensive and the failure of of the Russians, is this all about the new Western weapons Or is it a more complex story? Obviously, that’s a leading question because it isn’t more complex story. But I I like to get your take on why you think the Ukrainians were able to be so successful in the short term and the rule of the Western weaponry and the strategy that they’ve they’ve employed.
  • Speaker 4
    0:04:21

    Well, truthfully, I kind of bristle every time I see on the Internet or on television shows or listening to podcasts. When I hear people say that it’s all about the Western technology and we should give them more. We should give them everything they want. Because whereas that’s certainly a part of what has made Ukraine successful in defending their motherland. There there are so many other complexities involved as you just said.
  • Speaker 4
    0:04:48

    The first thing is Ukraine Army has transformed over the last fifteen years, and I’d I’d probably say I was a small part of that when we were training with the Ukrainian army. When I was commander US forces in Europe, things that most Americans don’t see what we call theater security cooperation where we partner with other nations to to transform their militaries and help them contribute to overarching security. So we started that way back in about two thousand and eight. And truthfully it was for selfish reasons. It was because Ukraine had volunteered to send forces to both Iraq and Afghanistan which they did until the very end of both of those wars.
  • Speaker 4
    0:05:29

    And we needed them to be competent on the battlefield and fight shoulder to shoulder with us. They were not that kind of an army when we first started working with them. So over the last fifteen years, they have transformed internally. They have conducted western style training events and exercises. They have built a more professional leadership core, not only at at the senior officer level, but at the NCO or the sergeants level.
  • Speaker 4
    0:05:56

    And they have really bought into the Western approach to security. So that’s another factor. But one factor that not a whole lot of people are saying much about is Triftly, the Russian army is bad. Yes. And Ukraine has gone in one direction in terms of a positive transformation over the last fifteen years because of claptocracy and corruption and poor training and poor leadership and lousy recruiting and just the way they purchase and acquire equipment and treat their soldiers, the Russian army has deteriorated and gone in the opposite direction.
  • Speaker 4
    0:06:36

    So it’s a combination of the improved Ukrainian army, the horrible stature of the Russian army and the incorporation of key technological weapons at critical points during this fight? Well, let’s
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:50

    just talk about the Russian army for a little bit. I mean, as you’ve pointed out, the Russians have been now fighting for more than two hundred days in dirt and mud. They haven’t been well lead. They haven’t been applied. Some of them haven’t been paid.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:01

    They’ve been under attack by precision artillery. They’re fighting Ukrainians. We’re defending their motherland. And the morale is you you you said, the morale is in the toilet. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:13

    So the question is, what does Russia do now? I mean, Russia is now put back on the defense, but as you pointed out, I mean, they continued to control vast swaths of Ukraine. They still have, you know, quite a few resources, and and Vladimir Putin has lots of cards. So what do you see as the status of the Russian army right now? Well,
  • Speaker 4
    0:07:35

    you know, I I sometimes get pushed back when I post things on Twitter because there are some that will jump on and say, hey, you’re giving away operational security secrets and the Russians can adapt to that. My response to that is, no, they can’t I mean, if if you have a viable military and you make mistakes on the battlefield, and you have a culture of learning and growing and changing and adapting to your mistakes and turning things around. Then I’d say, yeah, okay, you don’t wanna give any secrets to the Russia because they may wanna adapt. This is the example of maybe Israel in the nineteen seventy three war. In the Middle East.
  • Speaker 4
    0:08:16

    They adapted when they were initially defeated. So good armies can do that, but Russia is not a good army. It is so corrupt and it is so debased by their political leaders and their senior leaders. You would literally have to replace everyone and start a training process for both officers and sergeants, non commissioned officers as we call them. You would have to somehow get new equipment for them that isn’t basically damaged or or in very poor condition, which all of their equipment is, you would have to train their soldiers on how to conduct combined arms operations, which they have failed to do.
  • Speaker 4
    0:09:03

    And truthfully, all of that takes time. I was once I asked when I was a trainer at our National Training Center in California, when we’re a bunch of congressmen were were watching a a brigade commanded by a colonel conduct operations. One of the congressman asked me, what what does it take to to make that brigade commander so good? And I said about twenty years of experience from being a lieutenant all the way up to being a colonel and seeing how armies work. I guess, Charlie, what I’m trying to say is you just don’t fix an army overnight, especially when it has the morale problems that the Russian Army has now when it has the equipment and leadership problems what they have and when there is so much corruption.
  • Speaker 4
    0:09:48

    At the ministerial level, the senior general level at the top in mister Putin. So
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:54

    what should the West do now to help Ukraine. As you point out, the war is not close to being over. I I think that there had been a little bit of a danger that people had stopped paying attention to what was going on in Ukraine. There was a lot of anxiety about the effects of Russian energy cutoffs to Europe, would Europe start to get a little bit wobbly? So I guess the question is, if you’re advising the Biden administration or NATO, you’re saying it’s not all about technology, but is this the time to send more weaponry, more aid?
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:26

    What should the strategy be on our part? What
  • Speaker 4
    0:10:30

    you’ve seen so far in the different phases of the operation. And I’m gonna again give you a long answer to your question. I’m sorry for that. But It’s
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:39

    a podcast. It’s a long form. Yeah. In
  • Speaker 4
    0:10:42

    phase one, what we saw is the delivery of short range Soldier fired advanced technology weapons like the Javelin and the Stenger. Those were the key. Those were capable in stopping the Russian army from their attack, causing confusion, striking targets, and at the same time, And I don’t think this is a secret anymore. Many of us knew it from the very beginning. We were feeding the senior Ukrainian military intelligence and targeting information.
  • Speaker 4
    0:11:16

    Now, they did with it what they wanted, but we were giving them imagery, human signals intelligence, overhead platform intelligence, those kinds of things that help them to best target the movement of the Russian force. That was incredibly helpful to them because it stopped the campaign. But that was in combination with the Russians being so dysfunctional in terms of their leadership, their communication, and their logistics supply trains, and their the lack of training of their individual crews and forces. When the Russians transitioned to phase two, which was pulling all their forces out of their initial attack areas and pushing them into the Don Bosch The the weapon of choice for the Russians then became artillery and rockets. And the way Russia fires artillery and rockets is very imprecise.
  • Speaker 4
    0:12:13

    They have the capability of of using precision weapons. They just didn’t have enough of them or that they decided not to use them. Or they use their precision artillery and rockets against specific targets, mostly civilian institutions to create fear and panic within the Ukrainian population. So during that phase, the decision came, let’s provide Ukraine with precision long range weapons. In this case, high Mars and some NATO countries decided to give MLRS, which I didn’t believe was ever a good solution.
  • Speaker 4
    0:12:51

    MRS is just too heavy, yeah, fires that twice as many rounds as the high margin, but it moves around the battlefield slowly. And it requires a lot of maintenance. So all of those things are under consideration. Now we’re we’re in the third phase where Ukraine is conducting counterattacks and even small scale counteroffences, which have been very successful. In order to do that, you need what the army classifies as a combined arms force.
  • Speaker 4
    0:13:20

    And what that means is a combination of tanks infantry, artillery, air defense that’s moving forward, engineer that’s engineers that can keep up, so they can lay down bridges and and demine fields that have been mined, but most especially logistics. Now during the period from about twenty fourteen until twenty twenty one when the Russians attacked, there was a lot of training going on by NATO and the US of Ukrainian forces at their training area at a place called Yaberev, which is just northeast of Laveave in the western part of Ukraine. I’ve been to yeah. You have reached too many times. Let’s put it that way.
  • Speaker 4
    0:14:02

    Mhmm. But at that particular training center, the Ukrainian army continued to evolve so they could do small combined arms operation at say the battalion level. The tie in is a force of anywhere from six hundred to nine hundred people. Where you combine all of those infantry armor artillery in kind of a building block for a large scale offensive. Now, the training didn’t get past that.
  • Speaker 4
    0:14:32

    And in order to take a bunch of battalions and turn them into a brigade, and then turn a couple of brigades into a division for a large scale offensive, that takes a long time and it takes a lot of effort. Ukraine’s force did not get there during the time that US Army, Europe and the NATO armies were training with them. Several other European armies, by the way, didn’t either. They were very good at the battalion level, but not above that. So going back to your now that I’ve provided that long lead in to your question of what does the Biden administration do now on something I think they’re doing.
  • Speaker 4
    0:15:10

    It’s it’s preparing the rest of the Ukrainian army for the type security operations that they will need to do in the future. Unfortunately, Charlie, that takes a long time. Yeah. I just saw in the newspaper today that the British just graduated a class of x number of thousand Ukrainians that they had trained in combined arms operation. Well, that’s that’s a little less than a brigade.
  • Speaker 4
    0:15:35

    So you’re seeing advances toward that. But in order to complete that, you also have to give equipment. Now, you’re gonna get pushed back for me saying this on on the air, but what One also has to consider is Ukraine’s minister for defense and what their president is asking for from the west is a complete arming of a Ukrainian army. Mhmm. Well, it takes a lot of money and a lot of time to arm an entire army.
  • Speaker 4
    0:16:08

    And it takes a whole lot of equipment that you just don’t go down to the local Walmart and say, hey, give me tank battalions worth of tanks and infantry vehicles, and and then let’s start training people. So whereas Ukraine is probably a little bit frustrated that they can’t get the type of equipment delivered right now. First of all, that kind of stuff isn’t available. Secondly, it takes training and maintaining and logistics support to put that on the battlefield, and it’s a long term requirement. So I guess I’ll I’ll end this very long monologue by saying the next phase is wrapping our arms around Ukraine.
  • Speaker 4
    0:16:49

    And this is hard to do while warfare is going on. But saying, you’re now a partner. You are almost an ally officially. So let us help you get the kinds of force that will defend against any future incursions by Russia if those occur. Every
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  • Speaker 1
    0:18:05

    s. Without getting into specific weapon systems, though, the debate since February, at least early on, was about air cover you know, proposals to do things like, you know, a no fly zone or to provide more advanced fixed wing aircraft to the Ukrainian. We haven’t heard that much about that sins. So I wanted to get your take on what has happened in the air war and how was Ukraine able to mount this kind of counter offensive. What was the role of of air superiority in this counter offensive?
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:37

    If Russia had it, obviously, this wouldn’t have taken place. Am I right about that? I Yeah. You’re
  • Speaker 4
    0:18:42

    definitely right about that. And there’s a couple of factors that play into that. First of all, again, it gets back to training. The Russian coordination between air and ground is abysmal. They don’t practice it.
  • Speaker 4
    0:18:54

    Their fighter pilots don’t get a whole lot of flying hours. There’s not the coordination between the air force and the ground forces which are needed in these kinds of battles where the air is supporting the ground. You know, in in demonstrations that I attended in Russia, you would see Russian jets flying overhead. But, of course, It was during an exercise or a demonstration. There was no opposition to that flight.
  • Speaker 4
    0:19:17

    So they were just basically flying a fire jet you know, as a free floating electron. In order to actually use aircraft in a close air support role, you have to have not only very good coordination between ground and air, but you have to have the ability to suppress enemy air defense. And in fact, I’ll throw an acronym at you. The the military calls that seed, SCAD, suppression of enemy air defense. And in order to do that, you have to have electronic aircraft that will suppress any kind of enemy air defense from firing the radars It goes after the radars in terms of preventing them from picking up platforms that are flying overhead.
  • Speaker 4
    0:19:57

    When it does pick those platforms up, you have other aircraft that will fire harm missiles at the air defense radar, so it will knock those air defenses out. You can’t always prevent shoulder fire missiles like stingers from shooting, but those fast moving aircraft are a whole a lot harder to hit. But you also have the tactics requirement for a aviator to fly. So all of those things are part of what Russia can’t do. Ukraine, again, just like the Ukrainian army trained with US Army, Europe, the Ukrainian air force was training with US Air Force Europe, USAFE.
  • Speaker 4
    0:20:37

    In fact, my partner at the time, General Mark Welch, showed USAFE, later chief of staff of the Air Force, also was dual headed as the commander of NATO forces. So he literally pulled in all the Air Forces of Europe to work together. Ukraine was one of those, not necessarily a part of the NATO alliance, but they were a European partner looking to fall under the security umbrella. So I I guess what I’m saying, Charlie, in a very roundabout and long winded way is it takes a lot of training to do the kinds of things that people take for granted because they watch video games or war movies.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:13

    Russia doesn’t
  • Speaker 4
    0:21:13

    have that. Ukraine, on the other hand, has the early stages of capabilities for that. In fact, Ukraine has been very successful in targeting Russian air defense equipment on the ground. Ukrainian air force has been very successful in terms of talking with ground control forces And they’ve also been very successful in taking older generation MIG and a shoe fighters and upgrading them. I’ll just put it that way.
  • Speaker 4
    0:21:43

    Using types of weapons from the west like armed missiles and other types of precision weapons that Russia has not shown a propensity to do. So let’s
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:53

    talk about what happens next. As you pointed out at the top of the show here, there’s lots of fighting remaining. The Russians are in retreat, but they will obviously consolidate their lines of defense. They’re likely to defend some of the key logistics hubs in the south. They’re they’re again likely shoring up their defenses in, you know, using artillery to some effect.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:15

    So clearly, this offensive is not going to go on at this pace forever. So let’s talk about The three things that you said yesterday on your Twitter thread that concern you, tempo, fatigue, and black swan. So let’s go through each one of them. Talking about what you mean about tempo.
  • Speaker 4
    0:22:34

    Well, this is something that as a senior operational level or strategic level commander, you have to concern yourself with. And I learned this lesson not only from experience, but also being taught by my mentors. You know, tempo is a term that the military uses. It’s actually defined in doctrine as the rate of speed and rhythm of military operations with respect to the NMA’s activities. Now that seems like a simple definition but what it means is how fast do you go or how slow do you go or how much do you go in the middle so that everyone can keep up.
  • Speaker 4
    0:23:18

    You know, it’s one thing to have frontline forces blasting through occupied territory by the Russians, which we’ve seen you try and do over the last five days. It’s another thing for those frontline forces to turn around and say, okay, I’ve used up all my ammunition. Where is it? Or I don’t have any more fuel left in my vehicle. Where’s the fuel?
  • Speaker 4
    0:23:39

    Or okay. I’ve hit these targets. Intelligence guys and gals, where are the next targets I need to hit? And where is the enemy going? So I’m saying this simply so you understand that the frontline fighters will go as far and as fast as they can, but everyone else has to keep up with them.
  • Speaker 4
    0:23:58

    And this gets back to my other comment before about the training of the Ukrainian force. Again, I’ll probably get heat for this. Ukraine has a good army right now. They don’t have a great army right now. They are missing some of the parts and pieces at the operational and strategic level.
  • Speaker 4
    0:24:16

    And even though they’ve been very successful and your your listeners will say, well, what’s he talking about? They just reconquered hard give. Yeah. Okay. But there’s a whole lot more to go and there’s a whole lot more things to do.
  • Speaker 4
    0:24:29

    And even the American Army screws us up quite a bit. So what you have to do is keep everyone together, realize that you can’t outrun your supporters and your supply and you can’t put yourself in a position where the enemy sees opportunities to conduct attacks against you. When I first saw the initial advance of the Ukrainian army on a map, it kinda looked like the Germans heading toward best Stone in World War two. It was a very long line of Ukrainian vehicles over twenty five to fifty kilometers long. And both sides of that line were still surrounded allegedly by Russian forces.
  • Speaker 4
    0:25:14

    So if Russia had been a good army, could have attacked into those shoulders as they’re called, you pinched the most the Ukrainian offense. Very quickly. The only thing truthfully that saved the Ukrainian army in that long line of attack from Kharkiv to Isiam and then on to Kupyansk was the fact that Russia is so bad at what they do. They didn’t seize the opportunity and they didn’t have the intelligence that showed them how open for attack the Ukrainian army was. So your first concern
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:47

    is tempo. You know, don’t go too fast. Too far without thinking about whether everybody is able to keep up. The second one of your concerns that you listed was fatigue. And fatigue makes cowards of us all.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:59

    I don’t know if that was Vince Lombardi or William Shakespeare, but — Yeah. — obviously, this is something that the most experienced commanders And I think most of us actually understand. So what do you mean? What are you concerned about in terms of fatigue? The fatigue of Ukranian forces that just don’t know when to stop?
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:18

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 4
    0:26:19

    Well, that’s part of it. It’s just the fatigue of combat. I’m gonna give you an example and dated, but when I was a young major during Desert Storm, when we crossed the line of departure in Saudi Arabia, and I was in a Bradley Fighting Vehicles as part of First Army Division. We literally moved for three days straight without contact or scattered contact with enemy forces. And those were the frontline Iraqi forces that were actually pretty bad.
  • Speaker 4
    0:26:48

    So we were taking a lot of a lot of prisoners much like Ukraine has done with Russia. But then we hit the Republican guard. At about the four day mark. And most of us hadn’t slept. I mean, commanders never get enough rest and leaders never get enough rest.
  • Speaker 4
    0:27:04

    But the soldiers, because it was a continuous movement, also did not get enough rest. So you’re talking about four days straight without sleep, grabbing bites of food, always being on the alert because you never know when you’re gonna be hit or when you’re gonna have to hit other people. So it’s just a physiologic and emotionally fatiguing event to go into combat. Then when you start combat, when you’re actually shooting The adrenaline push that you get from that is the equivalent of what you sustain when you are really fatigued to try and keep going. So you have a double dose and a part time physiologist.
  • Speaker 4
    0:27:43

    So I know these things, your hormones just drive you off the chart. So after four days, you are just completely exhausted. Now there’s support, when you have support from your fellow soldiers, when you have the population and the government behind you, that fatigue is mitigated, but it’s still there. So what I’d suggest is if those frontline forces don’t take a tactical pause to rest, to recuperate, to resupply, to just get a little bit of sleep, it will drain that force. And truthfully, Charlie, that’s what’s been happening to Russia.
  • Speaker 4
    0:28:20

    They have been under attack. Their soldiers have been lying in the dirt uncared for by their leaders, not knowing really what their mission is. And getting pounded by artillery on a daily basis. So it’s a different proposition, but it’s the same physiological requirements to keep in the human body and the related equipment going. No.
  • Speaker 4
    0:28:42

    I thought your
  • Speaker 1
    0:28:43

    observations were very interesting that, you know, forces can attack for four or five days without breaking down and units begin to fail if they aren’t rested on day five of the offensive. And the commanders and leaders start making really really bad decisions after three days of little or no sleep. So obviously, you need these pauses and this is obviously a a real danger especially if you’re moving quickly. Yeah.
  • Speaker 4
    0:29:07

    Can I can I just add one more question about the very good point about the commanders? It’s you know, I’m I’m gonna throw out there. We have done studies in the army. It’s about five days for a a force on the offensive. It’s about two and a half to three days for commanders.
  • Speaker 4
    0:29:23

    And and I’ll never forget my time at the National Training Center in California as the senior observer we would have brigade commanders come in for a two week war training exercise. And they literally thought I can stay up for two weeks. I can take a twenty minute cap nap here and there and I can keep going because I’ve got to be there as the commander to make all decisions. Well, you know, we try and tell them, no. You have to have a rest plan.
  • Speaker 4
    0:29:48

    Your deputy or your executive officer has to take charge for a while. So you can go down and get four hours of sleep, etcetera, etcetera. None of them take that advice. They think they are superhuman and they decide to stay up for three days straight. And by the end of those three days, the units are dysfunctional because the command guidance they get and the decision making by the commanders is horribly off the chart in terms of the bad region.
  • Speaker 4
    0:30:12

    And so, I mean, we used to watch it, and we let units do that just to learn lessons from it. And then finally, we’d say, okay, commander, you’re not we would actually artificially say commander, you’re dead. Go get some sleep. Let your deputy take over. And and what I mean dead, I mean, we would literally take them out of the action as if they had been killed in action just to put them down for some rest because they were causing harm to themselves and to the unit.
  • Speaker 4
    0:30:38

    You know, it’s interesting
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:39

    because we’ve we’ve focused so much on the hardware, on the weaponry, you know, the role of i Mars and things like that when what you are suggesting here is that a key key factor to the success of this operation will be not just the weapons, but whether or not they take naps. Yeah,
  • Speaker 4
    0:30:57

    that’s that is certainly an element that all good commanders know they have to do. Yeah. Absolutely. You know, it was funny. I had another quick story during Desert Storm I had I mentioned this in my tweet, Fred.
  • Speaker 4
    0:31:09

    But I had a commander that later became my mentor, a guy named General Fred Franks, who is just one of my all time heroes. And I asked him one time on an airplane. I said, as a cavalry squadron, when I crossed the line of departure going from Saudi Arabia to Iraq and nineteen ninety one, and the whole corps was attacking a hundred and forty thousand people were attacking into Iraq. What did you do when we just crossed the LD or the line into departure? And he said, I went to take a nap.
  • Speaker 4
    0:31:38

    And he said, because I knew as the corps commander, I had already made all the decisions I needed to make and it was just up to others to execute and I needed to get my sleep for when the crisis started hitting. And it was just really good, you know, mentoring advice. Dude, at the time I was a lieutenant colonel when he told me that, but I realized that sleep is a critical element of being a commander. But
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:00

    you can imagine the amount of discipline and experience that went behind that particular decision. Because every other instinct would tell you, okay, it’s on now. I have to be there. Right? Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:10

    Go
  • Speaker 4
    0:32:10

    back to what I said earlier about what does it take to make a colonel Berge commander. Right? Twenty years of experience. So your third concern after tempo and fatigue is black swan. The black swan
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:21

    event, unpredictable events that can have severe consequences. So what what what are you thinking of there? What are the black swans that we should be keeping an eye out for? Well,
  • Speaker 4
    0:32:30

    Charlie, in combat, one of the things I learned as a senior commander is just when you think things are going great, something comes up to pardon my expression bite you in the ass. Mhmm. And it’s usually something that could have been unexpected, but usually it’s not it’s something that’s in the back of your mind, you say, oh, that might happen. But, yeah, I’ll just I’ll just overlook it for now, but they always come back to bite you. This happens in business a lot too.
  • Speaker 4
    0:32:58

    But what I’m suggesting is from an amateur observer standpoint, I could sit here today and just write down at my desk a hundred things that might crop up that are partly unanticipated and there may be no plans for. What I listed in that tweet thread that you’re you’re talking about are just eight that kind of came to mind. There are many, many more. And there are people in the State Department, in the Panagon in the Ukrainian Armed Forces, in President Zelensky’s government that are certainly watching some of these things and looking for them. But it’s gonna surprise the American people.
  • Speaker 4
    0:33:44

    If the American people don’t understand that there are plans in place right now, if something happens to the Zaparezia nuclear power plant that’s a scary event. That’s a scary event. But people are planning for what to do next. And they have talked about these things. I know the Ukrainian army because I’ve been told this by some of my Ukrainian friends, are on the verge and they know they are going to capture a lot of Russian prisoners probably within the next week if they haven’t already captured I there’s indicators that there’s an element in the narrative of the Russian Fourth Tank Division of the First tank army.
  • Speaker 4
    0:34:27

    They left behind estimates somewhere between thirty five to forty five tanks and thirty five DMPs, which are the Russian equivalents of a personnel carrier. And if they left that many behind, that means there’s a whole lot of people out there that are being rounded up. And I would suggest both in hard keep and in her song. We’re soon going to see a massive number of Russian prisoners of war.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:54

    Now the question
  • Speaker 4
    0:34:55

    is, what is Ukraine army gonna do with them? And how are they going to safeguard those? Because by the way, that’s that’s
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:01

    a requirement
  • Speaker 4
    0:35:02

    of the Geneva Convention as you safeguard your prisoners of war and you don’t treat them harshly. Russia has not done that. They have done just the opposite. They have been criminal in their approach to prisoners of war. But when you’re talking about a large group and and American history tells us, I keep using the example of the filet pocket during World War two, a place in France where Bradley’s army, I think it was captured close to ten thousand German prisoners.
  • Speaker 4
    0:35:30

    Well, when you have that many prisoners of war, what do you do with them? How do you need them? How do you put them in camps? How do you make sure that they’re safeguarded? And how many Ukrainian soldiers are gonna be really pissed?
  • Speaker 4
    0:35:45

    If they come upon these groups of people, and they wanna take out revenge on them. I think the Ukrainian army is more professional than that. But, you know, people do strange things when They’re human beings. Yeah. Yeah.
  • Speaker 4
    0:35:55

    They’re human beings. You see these pictures
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:57

    of the of the war crimes of what’s been done to Ukrainian POWs and this is obviously a real concern. Coffee and cold season
  • Speaker 7
    0:36:11

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  • Speaker 4
    0:36:32

    Regalam. It’s
  • Speaker 7
    0:36:34

    in our nature.
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:35

    Okay. So now we’re getting into a more political speculative area, but what do you make of the reaction in the Kremlin to these setbacks, including Russian state media, which for the first time seems to be showing a a good deal of anxiety openly acknowledging the defeats and questioning whether or not Latter of Putin strategy was sound. What do you make of that in terms of short term implications for the power structure in the Kremlin as well as the morale of the general public if that matters at all in Russia. I
  • Speaker 4
    0:37:09

    can’t say much about how the reaction will be in in Moscow. I know it what it would be like in the west with such a crushing defeat. It appears that mister Putin has already attempted to blame the generals and that only worked partly in March and April. There’s probably gonna be another rash of blaming the generals and and timbre. But pretty soon I mean, it’s it’s pretty obvious to me that this was an ill conceived strategic operation with very bad leadership at at all elements within Russian society.
  • Speaker 4
    0:37:49

    Support from the ministers driven by Putin and no pushback from the generals because they, first of all, didn’t know how and didn’t know what right it looked like in the first place. So to answer your question, Charlie, I I don’t know. I think that there could be repercussions, you know, coup attempts, replacements, but mister Putin has such a tight hold on the Russian bureaucracy or kleptocracy, that it will be very difficult for any kind of coup attempt, but that certainly is a potential. There’s still the question of how it is in the Russian psyche to always declare victory. There’s no way you can declare a victory in this campaign.
  • Speaker 4
    0:38:32

    They have been roundly defeated. So I think mister Zelensky, president Zelensky, and president Biden truthfully. And I’ll I’ll say this openly. I’m not saying it from a partisan perspective. Have been very careful in how far they push Putin and the Russians because they somehow wanna give those individuals and out because they are not normal.
  • Speaker 4
    0:39:00

    And the reaction could be just abnormal reaction from a society that, unfortunately, I’m gonna say it, they still have weapons of mass destruction. Even though they haven’t proven that they may use them. There’s always that threat and that’s a gamble that politicians must consider as they continue to push the envelope in a strategic victory, which which Ukraine is about to have. Were you surprised
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:26

    at all at how quickly the Kremlin shut down talk about reinstituting the draft or the fact that they’ve poured cold water on calls for a complete mobilization to counter Ukraine. Does that suggest that that Vladimir Putin understands how unpopular that would be and would be low to do it because of that? Yeah, I think it’s a combination
  • Speaker 4
    0:39:48

    of that the political view of it being an unpopular war, I’d also consider, I wouldn’t dismiss the fact that I don’t think he can do it. From the standpoint of personnel and equipment. You know, he’s he’s already shown his hand in terms of trying to move forces from other locations within that country that has eleven different time zones, and has threats in each area that they consider ominous that he doesn’t wanna empty out forces from other locations. And even if he tried to, he doesn’t have the capability to transfer large scale equipment or the an army that could conduct an operation that would regain the initiative. So he may say, let’s do a generalized mobilization.
  • Speaker 4
    0:40:35

    But so far, all indicators are there’s not a whole lot of capable forces to mobilize from the reserves. I mean, the US military has a pretty good reserve force But you know from our history that there have been tons when we’ve tried to mobilize the reserve unexpectedly, and they have not come out in glory. Without a whole lot of additional training and without you know, it it seems to, you know, at times, parts of a reserve always is a shallow army. In Russian cases, It’s a ghost army. It doesn’t exist.
  • Speaker 4
    0:41:10

    So those are the considerations of human beings being brought to a reserve station, being resooted in military uniform, retrained very quickly, and then put on pieces of equipment that truthfully don’t exist in large quantities. I literally know nothing about
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:27

    this this next question I’m gonna ask you, but but is there any relationship to what’s happening in Ukraine with with Russia and the fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Armenia is allied with Russia — Yeah. — and Vladimir Putin, and they are now under attack by another former Russian Republic. How does that play into this? Is this relevant at all to what we’re talking about?
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:51

    Or is this like a completely separate chapter?
  • Speaker 4
    0:41:53

    You know, it’s it’s interesting because not a whole lot of people know about the history of the Armenia Azerbaijan conflict at a place called Nagorno Karabakh. But it was one area that I had intelligence on on a daily basis when I was commander in US forces in or US army in Europe. And I actually was on that border between our media and Azerbaijan and it it’s what’s called a frozen conflict. Just like Transnistria, just like South Assertia and Abkhazia in Georgia. So I think all of these things are indicators to Russia that their attempt at putting down peoples and cultures in different areas throughout Europe will come back to bite them if they pull forces away from those areas, or it also shows areas that have been fighting for their freedoms like before I just mentioned, for include Moldova in that, they’re saying, hey, we may have an opportunity because Russia is stretched so thin right now.
  • Speaker 4
    0:42:56

    And undergoing such a disaster that we might see an opportunity to attack here. Let me share with you if I can. Charlie, one of the things in two thousand one, when I was the my only time in the Pentagon, when I was the war planner on the joint staff, when people were attempting to make a decision on whether or not we should open a second front in Iraq. One of my jobs as the war planner was to say, here’s how it might resound in other parts of the world when people in, say, North Korea or Venezuela or everywhere in the world sees the United States focusing their attention primarily on Afghanistan and now into Iraq and how we’re taking intelligence capabilities and forces from other areas where we’re defending and putting them in two key places. Here’s how China, Russia, Venezuela, Panama, you know, North Korea would react to that.
  • Speaker 4
    0:43:57

    And I had to present that to the secretary of defense. That’s what’s happening right now with Russia. So since you raised this question, what do you think
  • Speaker 1
    0:44:05

    is happening in Beijing? How is China going to react to this? They’ve, you know, bonded with Russia and they’ve been looking, you know, lustfully at at Taiwan. What is the Russian weakness mean for the Chinese view of the future? Well, you remember before
  • Speaker 4
    0:44:22

    mister Putin started this war, he had a conference with president Xi. Mhmm. And I think I would have loved to have heard that conversation because I think she was probably using any kind of intelligence he could get on how the west would respond to an attack into a sovereign country by Russia so that he might use the same kind of approach Exactly. In his areas of interest, the early defeats, I think surprise Qi, The now operational and near strategic defeat has shocked him. Mhmm.
  • Speaker 4
    0:44:57

    And the main issue is the fact that the west came together. Bruniently to oppose this kind of attack against the sovereign nation. You know, I’m not a China watcher. I’m I certainly am not an Sput on China or President Xi, but just from a human nature standpoint, this has got to be shocking to him even though I would suggest the Chinese Army does not have the same challenges that the Russian army has. Russian military writ large.
  • Speaker 4
    0:45:29

    General
  • Speaker 1
    0:45:29

    Mark Hertling, who is a former commanding general of the US Army, Europe, and the Seventh Army, he is tired lieutenant general and the CNN military analyst, and we are very grateful for your time today coming back on the podcast generally. Charlie,
  • Speaker 4
    0:45:44

    it’s been a pleasure. Thanks so much for allowing me to expand on some of these things and some great questions. It has
  • Speaker 1
    0:45:49

    been really interesting to take a deep dive and to listen to somebody with your depth of knowledge. And thank you all for listening to today’s bold word podcast. I’m Trevy Sykes. We’ll be back tomorrow, and we’ll do this all over again. You’re worried about
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    0:46:08

    the economy. Inflation is high. Your paycheck doesn’t cover as much as it used to, and we live under the threat of a looming recession. And sure, you’re doing okay, but you could be doing better. We afford
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    0:46:19

    anything odd cast explains the economy and the market detailing how to make wise choices on the way you spend and invest. Afford
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    anything talks about how to avoid common pit calls, how to refine your mental models, and how to think about how to think. Make smarter choices and build
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    a better life. Afford anything wherever you listen.
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