RUSSIA-UKRAINE: We Are Winning The Two-Front Information War – By Lucian K. Truscott IV

  By Lucian K. Truscott IV

LET US GET THIS OUT OF THE WAY UPFRONT:  The information in this story was not leaked to me from within the intelligence community, nor did I speak to a source or sources with inside access to the CIA, NSA, nor did anyone close to someone working for any of the nation’s intelligence agencies talk to me.

THERE.  See how easy that was?  All I had to do was give you a list of precut denials, and I had you!  I could be lying through my teeth, but at first blush, you believed me, didn’t you?

This kind of double and triple blind dealing in the release of top-secret information, or a version of it, has been happening all week on the front page of the New York Times and in reports on NBC News.           

First, the Times reported on Thursday that the U.S. has provided Ukraine with intelligence that has “helped to target and kill many of the Russian generals who have died in action in the Ukraine war, according to senior American officials.”

THE NEXT DAY, the Times reported that the U.S. “provided intelligence that helped Ukrainian forces locate and strike the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet last month.”  And then in the third paragraph comes this: “The administration has sought to keep much of the battlefield and maritime intelligence it is sharing with the Ukrainians secret out of fear it will be seen as an escalation and provoke President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia into a wider war.”

SEE WHAT I MEAN ABOUT THE DOUBLE GAME THEY’RE PLAYING? One story is printed that says senior American officials leaked the closely guarded secret that we’re helping Ukraine target Russian generals, and the next day they turn around and say we’ve been keeping knowledge about the sharing of  “battlefield and maritime intelligence” secret. You read this stuff, and you want to say, which is it, goddamnit?

THE ANSWER IS, IT IS BOTH.  They’re leaking like sieves to the point it sounds like bragging and then claiming they’ve been trying to keep all this stuff secret because they’re so afraid of the big bad wolf over there in Moscow – all while waving a great big red flag at him with big grins on their faces, like, look what we did, Vlad, and what are you going to do about it?

IT IS THE WAY THE INTELLIGENCE GAME IS PLAYED – doing it – whispering secret stuff to the Ukrainians – then denying it, then admitting it but claiming the secret of what they did is out only because it was leaked by some blabbermouth unnamed “senior official”. 

THE WORLD OF INTELLIGENCE IS THE WORLD OF KEEPING THEM GUESSING, keeping the enemy always on his back foot, and most of all, it’s the world of paranoia creation, making Putin wonder, how did they know where my generals were?  Do we have traitors in the ranks telling the Americans where they are?  Where are these leaks coming from – not the leaks within the CIA or NSA talking to the New York Times, but the leaks within his own military sharing with the enemy the location of top secret stuff like generals and flagships?

SOMETIMES THE BEST WAY TO KEEP SECRETS IS BY LETTING THEM OUT.  The way you get them to constantly be looking over their shoulders is to confirm the Russians’ suspicions.  Of course, the Russians know the location of their generals had become known to the Ukrainians or they wouldn’t have been able take them out.  Of course, the Americans had told the Ukrainians where the warship Moskva was, because Ukraine doesn’t have satellite surveillance over every square inch of the earth … the U.S. does.

The Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies are playing Putin from about three directions at once.  They know that Putin does not have the comparative luxury of testing leaks to a free press like we do, because he doesn’t have a free press that intelligence agencies could leak to.  His own authoritarian system keeps Putin constantly in the dark because everyone is too afraid to say anything that might piss him off even if it means generals are out there on the front lines getting shot like they’re targets in a carnival sideshow.

Think of it this way:  If Putin had a free press, there would be a place where somebody down there in the ranks could have leaked the information that Russian generals in Ukraine were talking “in the clear” on cellphones.  If that information had reached the Kremlin, Putin could have done something about it, like outlawing cellphones in his army, and the lives of some of his generals would have been saved, and maybe with those important tacticians still alive, his campaign against Kyiv would not have collapsed the way it did.

That is the dangerous pit of an authoritarian system:  Real information has no place to go.  Only approved information like propaganda and fake news and lies has an outlet.  It’s the Russian officials themselves who are in need of real information about the way the war is going, and it doesn’t come because there is no way to get it to them.  Putin with his stranglehold on the Russian government at every level has established a system that denies to himself truths he needs to hear.  The only thing he’s really good at is spreading bullshit propaganda to the waiting eyes and ears of his Russian public, telling them he didn’t invade Ukraine, it was just a “special operation” to protect Russian speaking people there, and when the war started to go bad, lying to them by denying his state-owned media the right to report accurately about the war.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., the Pentagon can feed the press accurate information about the war and how it’s going, and they’re free to admit they’re helping the Ukrainians and then deny everything they admitted.

We’ve got the Russians coming and going, and that’s the very definition of “keeping them guessing”.

That’s why we’re winning the intelligence war, and we’re not doing a bad job in the second front of the information war, either, which is the propaganda battle.  Putin can control what information the Russian public sees, but he can’t control what the public sees in, say, India or Africa or the rest of the nations in the world that haven’t taken sides because of … INTERNET.

You don’t think they’re not seeing the scenes of horror from Bucha, with the bodies lined up in ditches, shot in the backs of the head?  And how well do you figure Putin’s propaganda is playing against those images – that the Ukrainians killed their own people in such horrible ways so they could accuse Russia of war crimes?  Who do you think wins that one – the side showing the horrors live on television and leading prominent figures from the U.N. and other international organizations through Bucha to see it in person?  Or Putin sitting in the Kremlin pointing his finger and saying, they did it themselves!

One of the great problems with authoritarian systems is that the rot is always there inside, but it’s unseen until things really start to go wrong, like a dozen generals getting killed on the battlefield or the biggest ship in your navy sinking to the bottom of the sea while you have your factotums going around saying it was a fire onboard that sunk it. 

That’s why we can supply top secret battlefield information to Ukraine and then claim we didn’t do it and then leak it to the New York Times so they can run it on their front page.  We get to play both ends against the middle while all Putin can do is sit in his dacha and tell lies.  It doesn’t even seem like it’s a fair fight, does it?

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  • Clyde Duncan  On 05/12/2022 at 7:29 am


    Lucian K. Truscott IV

    Who wins and who loses a war, hinges on many factors:

    Who is best motivated? Whose objective is the most clearly defined? Who has the best weapons? Who has the most weapons? Who can communicate the best on the battlefield? Who has the best intelligence on the enemy? Who is best prepared? Who can resupply forces at the front most readily and efficiently? Who controls the skies? Who is tactically and strategically most flexible? Whose army is best trained? Whose army is best led?

    But as we’re seeing in Ukraine right now, it all comes down to MORALE. Russia is losing the war because it is failing to achieve some of the above-listed goals and criteria, but the big one is its army’s lack of unit cohesion, discipline, esprit de corps – in a word, MORALE.

    Soldiers will go to war and fight for a number of reasons, including patriotism, a strong belief in political objectives, personal gain in their own careers, for each other, for their buddies. But the thing that makes the difference is their drive – THEIR WILL TO FIGHT AND WILL TO WIN.

    The tip off came early in the war when there began to be reports from Ukrainian civilians remaining in villages and towns Russian units had taken and then lost or had moved through on their way deeper into the country. Ukrainians reported that the Russian soldiers asked, “where are the Nazis?” as they swept through the towns. They had apparently been fed a steady diet of lies – that Ukraine was being ruled by, or overrun by Nazis, and the Russian nation was being called upon to rid the place of this evil that still carries the weight of a well-taught and remembered history. Ukrainian citizens told reporters the Russian soldiers were shocked when they were told there were no Nazis in control of village governments or anything else.

    There were additional reports that some soldiers who appeared to be young, marginally trained conscripts were unaware that they were in Ukraine.

    Some Russian soldiers told Ukrainian captors they had been told they were on a special exercise and believed they had not left Russia. Some of this confusion and ignorance can be attributed to what is typical in the lower ranks in all armies – privates straight out of boot camp and other low ranking troops are not always informed of a unit’s location, or sometimes even the purpose of its mission. The “details” are left to non-commissioned officers (sergeants) and officers of higher rank.

    But we’ve learned from military experts and retired generals commenting on the war in Ukraine that the Russian army doesn’t have the well-constituted and well-trained non-commissioned officers who are the immediate commanders of soldiers in the fighting ranks, and who serve as a command layer between superior officers and low-ranking soldiers. It is these “non-coms” as they are called who carry information and orders from higher command down to the troops. If they aren’t there, there is a large hole in the ranks, a hole that gets filled with the kind of ignorance and confusion that has been reported about captured Russian soldiers.

    HERE IS THE THING ABOUT TROOPS, EVEN THE YOUNGEST AND LEAST WELL-TRAINED OF THEM. They may be ill-informed and confused at first, but it doesn’t take long for them to get hold of at least their own portion of the bigger picture, and when they do, if they feel they have been misled or lied to, the sense of betrayal in the ranks is palpable. They begin to lose the will to fight.

    Our own army experienced something almost exactly like this in Vietnam, especially as the years ground on and on. New draftees arriving in Vietnam late in the war – after 1969 or later – had been exposed to reporting on the war in the United States, and they could see the lies from superior officers before they were even uttered. They lost the will to fight because what they had been told they were fighting for was a lie.

    I had a friend at Fort Benning when I went through the Infantry School as a Second Lieutenant who had gotten a direct commission to First Lieutenant from being a sergeant because he blew the only ambush in the entire 25th Infantry Division that killed any Viet Cong in an entire year.

    He told me they went out on night ambushes and just sat there in the jungle watching VC pass their position and never fired their weapons because they knew it was all bullshit.

    My friend’s attitude was similar to the famous words of John Kerry when he testified before the Senate, “How do you ask a man to be the last one to die for a mistake?”

    My friend said the ambush he commanded was blown when one of his men fell asleep and leaned against a Claymore mine trigger, setting off the whole ambush by accident. They would have never blown it on purpose.

    Something similar must be happening in the Russian army in Ukraine. They are being incompetently led by an officer corps that has apparently been corrupted by cronyism and political influence. Evidence of this has been shown in videos of Russian armored convoys tightly packed together as they are hit by Ukrainian ambushes with tank after tank exploding one after another.

    Russian armored commanders shouldn’t lead convoys into towns or villages that haven’t been cleared by infantry in advance so Ukrainian soldiers or irregulars armed with Javelins couldn’t shoot their highly-accurate and deadly weapons and knock out most of the convoy. When this kind of thing happens often enough, soldiers stop following orders and refuse to move and engage the enemy.

    And now Ukraine is being supplied with long-range 155 howitzers and counter-fire radar that can quickly target and destroy Russian artillery units that are firing at Ukrainian units or civilian areas. Morale in the Russian rear-area artillery and rocket units is bound to go down when their losses begin to go up because Ukraine will start firing accurate and deadly counter-strikes.

    Vladimir Putin does not have anything to pull his flagging army out of its combat doldrums. We saw this on Monday at the Victory Day parade in Moscow. There was Putin looking like somebody had just run over his favorite dog surrounded by a cast of generals and admirals who looked like they had been rolled out of a wax museum and positioned around him like flesh-colored statues. Victory? There wasn’t a smile or look of pride and patriotic morale on anyone in sight.

    Russia is now reduced to lobbing cruise missiles at Odessa and even distant cities like Lviv because they can’t get their artillery and ground-to-ground rockets close enough to shell them. But cruise missiles aren’t cheap like 155 rounds or rockets. They’re expensive, costing more than a million apiece, and with sanctions taking effect on Russia’s defense industries, they can’t be easily replaced. Every cruise missile they shoot is one cruise missile gone, with back-up stocks rapidly depleting.

    Putin’s choices are narrowing. He’s got 60 to 70 percent of his entire army committed to the battlefield in Ukraine right now. He doesn’t have gigantic reserves with thousands and thousands of tanks he can throw at Ukraine like there’s no tomorrow.

    There is a tomorrow, and it’s not Putin’s. Russian morale is flagging. They’re losing, and if the look on Putin’s face on Monday at the Victory Parade told us anything at all, it told us he knows it.

    • Chris  On 05/12/2022 at 11:06 am

      No one wins in war.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 05/13/2022 at 3:46 am

    UKRAINE has a right to defend itself …. at any cost!!

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