Russia’s elite military units, including the Spetsnaz, Naval Infantry, and Paratroopers (VDV), have suffered significant losses in Ukraine. The article attributes these losses to poor planning, incompetent leadership, a lack of structural command, and the use of specialized units in roles for which they were not suited. The article also outlines how the decimation of these units offers opportunities for the West to study and learn from Russia’s mistakes. This could have long-term consequences on Russia’s ability to respond to other conflicts and operate at its previous level of capability.
- Failure in Leadership and Planning: The catastrophic casualties among Russia’s elite units are attributed to factors such as incompetent leadership, poor planning, and a lack of structural command. The absence of non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and micromanagement from the top also degraded troop performance.
- Specific Unit Failures: The Naval Infantry, Spetsnaz, and VDV suffered heavy casualties, with specific examples cited in Vuhledar and Hostomel airport. The elite units were placed in roles that were unsuited to their capabilities, such as Naval Infantry being led into perplexed assaults and Spetsnaz being ordered to conduct infantry tactics.
- Long-term Effects: The loss of thousands of specialized troops is expected to degrade Russian military activities for decades, with a lack of unit cohesion and training leading to further failures on the battlefield. Rebuilding the specialized units could take up to a decade or two, rendering top-tier units vulnerable and lacking capable leadership.
- Lessons for the West: The failures of Russia’s elite units in Ukraine provide key insights for the United States and its allies. Understanding how specialized units can be led into disaster and how the lack of focus on NCOs can break unit cohesion offers critical lessons for planning and executing military operations.
- Impact on Other Conflicts: The heavy casualties and failure of elite units might render Russia’s elite naval infantry units combat-inoperable and hinder their ability to respond if a conflict emerges on Russia’s eastern borders in Asia. This could further strain Russia’s military capabilities and affect its global military posture.