I know that some folks are holding out hope that the gravity of the losses Ukraine is suffering will bring the leaders of the U.S. Intelligence Community to their senses. Nope. Ain’t happening. Just read what the Director of Analysis for the Defense Intelligence Agency (aka DIA) is saying (note, Newsweek is wrong, Maul is not the head of DIA, he is their Director of Analysis):
There is a “realistic possibility” Kyiv could break through the rest of Russia’s defensive lines in southern Ukraine by the end of the year, according to the head of the U.S. military intelligence agency.
Kyiv has made “significant” progress in recent weeks, Trent Maul, the director of analysis at the Defense Intelligence Agency, told The Economist in a piece published on Wednesday.
And what is Dr. Maul’s qualifications for this exalted position? If you guessed a former sailor and political science major you are a winner. What the hell does a desk jockey squid know about combined arms and ground combat?
Dr. Maul previously served as an intelligence officer in the United States Navy, having performed military capabilities analysis, counternarcotics and counterterrorism analysis, collections management, and HUMINT targeting (including Defense Attaché training) during his service. Additionally, Dr. Maul’s professional experience includes working on military issues in national and international legislative arenas, as well as in academia, having been an adjunct faculty member of the National Intelligence University.
Dr. Maul received his Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and Political Science; his M.A. from King’s College, University of London; and his B.A. with highest distinction and departmental honors from the University of Kansas.
Dr. Maul has zero experience doing analysis on the Russian military. Maul is just repeating what his analysts are telling him. I am sure he tasked the guys and gals working on the Ukraine Task Force to gin up some talking points, which he used as the foundation for his comments to Ellie Cook, the Newsweek correspondent. Surprisingly, Maul admits that Ukraine faces ammunition shortages (which means the U.S. can’t supply enough), deteriorating weather and well-constructed Russian defenses, but still insists that Ukraine can break through. This is intelligence malpractice in my opinion:
Progress through southern Ukraine has been painstakingly slow, with extensive mines and thoroughly prepared Russian defenses holding up Kyiv’s advance. More than three months into the counteroffensive efforts—which Ukraine has said it had hoped to begin earlier in the year—another set of obstacles could quickly come into Kyiv’s path.
Scarce ammunition supplies and deteriorating weather conditions could trip up Kyiv’s progress, Maul said, making the smashing up of Russia’s defenses by the end of the year a “very difficult” goal.
As the months wear on, Ukraine’s forces get closer to facing the country’s muddy season, known as rasputitsa.
This presents an added risk to Ukraine’s counteroffensive forces, as the Western-made main battle tanks may end up getting stuck in the quagmires, Marina Miron, a post-doctoral researcher at the War Studies Department at King’s College London, told Newsweek.
Limited ammunition stocks have plagued Kyiv’s counteroffensive efforts. The U.S. unveiled a new military aid package on Wednesday to send additional artillery supplies to Ukraine.
I wonder if Dr. Maul understands the meaning of the phrase, “realistic possibility”, in assessing Ukraine’s ability to break through the Russian lines? Ukraine is short of soldiers, equipment and ammunition. Ukraine also is bereft of air cover. I cannot think of a single example in the history of modern warfare where an outnumbered attacking force has been able to breach 30 kilometers deep of defensive lines without combat air and with limited artillery support. I leave it to you, dear readers, to help educate me on this point. The job of intelligence analysts is to report the facts and shy away from spin. Dr. Maul is guilty of spinning in my view.
I did a radio interview earlier today with Tara Reade, the woman who has accused Joe Biden of sexual assault (my portion starts around the 30:00 minute mark — just click on the link).
I also did a virtual sit down with my friend, Rasheed Muhammed, and we discussed Blinken’s latest visit to Ukraine: