I respect @PhillipsPOBrien's work, & I recommend his book How the War Was Won to everyone (seriously, go read it). I also think he makes some great points in this article. However, there are some key misconceptions that matter for improving military analysis. 1/

His argument is that western military analysts overestimated Russian advantages vs. Ukrainian forces b/c they fixated on weapons and doctrine and ignored factors--like logistics, leadership, and morale--that really matter. In the 🧵 below, I'll explain why I partly disagree. 2/
Generally, I think we got some things right, and some things wrong. Mostly, however, I think we've been gobsmacked by the fact that Russian operations look nothing like their doctrine or exercises. This is why O'Brien's analogy to the Battle of France is inapt. 4/
France's defeat in 1940 remains a topic of debate 80 years later. But most analysts attribute it to a bad plan driven by rigid, outdated doctrine and rigid, outdated leaders, and based on flawed assumptions German plans & the character of mechanized warfare. 5/
For more on France's failure, Marc Bloch's Strange Defeat is a great starting point:
But Robert Doughty's "Seeds of Disaster," is more pertinent, arguing that France lost because it rigidly followed its flawed Methodical Battle doctrine in what became a fluid, dynamic battle.
There are similarities w/Ukraine--flawed assumptions, bad plans, & poor leadership. But there's a big difference: France failed because it followed bad doctrine. Russia's failing in part because it's not following its doctrine, or basic principles of war like unity of command. 7/
O'Brien argues that western analysts erred partly because they focused too much on doctrine, but how were these analysts to predict that the Russians would just throw doctrine and principles of warfare out the window? How else should they assess Russian forces? 8/
O'Brien says analysts need to look past that to assess the ability execute complex operations, support them logistically, and ensure that personnel are motivated and well led. I wholeheartedly agree that defense analysis needs to focus on these areas but... 9/
The Russian analysts I've worked with always cited these issues. I led a project years ago looking at Russian military weaknesses and how best to exploit them for deterrence and advantage in combat. 10/
I'll never forget @MassDara saying that Russia would struggle with C2 and logistics for any complex operation. These concerns were partly why @KofmanMichael found some Russia-NATO wargames unrealistic, as they posited massive invasions that Russia likely couldn't pull off. 11/
Most western analysis I've read, and my work @CNASdc, examines limited Russian incursions into NATO. The kind of operation that would minimize Russian weaknesses in C2, logistics, airpower, etc. We've spent relatively less time thinking about a massive invasion like Ukraine. 12/
But to the extent that we did, we thought it would be challenging for Russian logistics, C2, and airpower, but they'd follow their doctrine and execute plans that maximize their strengths like fires and numerical superiority. 13/
This is why the France 1940 analogy doesn't work. France failed because its plans followed bad doctrine and its leaders couldn't adapt. Russia's failing because it's not following its doctrine and its plans are insane and its leaders appear unable to adapt. 15/
So what lessons should analysts and those that use their work take away? 1) leadership matters, from the national level down to tactical units. Bad leaders tend to make bad plans and then can't adapt fast enough. They also tend to have poorly motivated subordinates. 16/
This is a sensitive topic though. Saying, "the Russians have weak leadership and are unmotivated" is a stone's throw from past racist attitudes that led analysts to underestimate opponents like Japan or Vietnam. It can also be a hard thing to assess. 17/
Still, I think analysts should examine operations and exercises to see, for example, if officers have to carry out or directly oversee basic tasks because they can't/won't trust subordinates. This distrust is crippling in combat. 18/
2) We need to think more holistically, both about adversaries and ourselves. We tend to focus on individual systems, rather than the whole apparatus needed to make them work. C2 and logistics matter as much or more than fighters, tanks, ships, and missiles. 19/
3) We need to analyze systems in realistic combat conditions. How a weapon/unit performs when it's dirty, disrupted, or degraded is way more relevant than its parade-ground appearance. 20/
4) We need to expand our mental models beyond a handful of scenarios. Most analysis is scenario-specific. This can help bound assumptions and ensure strategic relevance. But it also limits our thinking and our ability to adapt & plan for the unexpected. 21/
5) We must be explicit about assumptions and examine them rigorously. About our adversaries. About ourselves. About allies and partners. About the character of warfare. Then we need to re-check them. We need to be open to people--even outsiders--who question our assumptions. 22/
6) US analysts must remember that war is hard. Decades of US operational and tactical success (strategy, not so much) have created unrealistic expectations about warfare. RUS-UKR is what happens when the capability gap isn't huge. 23/
Despite these lessons and clear overestimation of Russian performance, I prefer these mistakes to the alternative. Overestimation of a foe leads to misallocation of resources. Underestimation of a foe, as Russia is discovering, leads to catastrophe. 24/
If you'd like to read more about assumptions in thinking about warfare, here's my paper on Why America Needs a New Way of War:

If you'd like to read about information management and command and control in realistic combat conditions, here's my paper "More than Half the Battle,"

If you're interested in logistics. . . sit tight. 28/
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