The author notes that he can’t confirm what this ex-marine tells him about his service with the forces defending Ukraine. I’m also very conscious that I’m sharing it because it’s comforting to believe the defense forces have a chance of succeeding.
Russian doctrine relies on centralized command and control, while mission-style command and control—as the name suggests—relies on the individual initiative of every soldier, from the private to the general, not only to understand the mission but then to use their initiative to adapt to the exigencies of a chaotic and ever-changing battlefield in order to accomplish that mission. Although the Russian military has modernized under Vladimir Putin, it has never embraced the decentralized mission-style command-and-control structure that is the hallmark of NATO militaries, and that the Ukrainians have since adopted.
“The Russians don’t empower their soldiers,” Zagorodnyuk explained. “They tell their soldiers to go from Point A to Point B, and only when they get to Point B will they be told where to go next, and junior soldiers are rarely told the reason they are performing any task. This centralized command and control can work, but only when events go according to plan. When the plan doesn’t hold together, their centralized method collapses. No one can adapt, and you get things like 40-mile-long traffic jams outside Kyiv.” –Elliot Ackerman, The Atlantic