We present “Why the U.S. Was Wrong About Ukraine and the Afghan War” by Julian E. Barnes on the argument that U.S. intelligence agencies thought the Afghan military would last longer and predicted Kyiv would fall faster, showing the difficulty of assessing fighting spirit.
Key words in our study are difficulty of assessing fighting spirit. Our proprietary G-101 Algorithm has a strategic component that calculates the hypothesis that planet Earth is a toxic swamp populated by predators and parasites and only survives as a collective race when we fight the elements of want, hunger, disease, and each other. By concluding this argument as fact, G-101 calculates how we suffer and reposition our defeats, whatever the categories and circumstances. Within its matrix are the elements that can assess whether a certain set of hypothetical rules can determine how a specific group would act.
The questions we asked G-101 Algorithm, subset “How we suffer our defeats – HWSOD.”
What is the likelihood that upon an invasion of Ukraine by Russia would the citizens of Ukraine offer maximum resistance?
G-101 Algorithm HWSOD projected a subjective probability of +92.14 SP tag, which means that the odds of that event occurring was 92.14%.
To place in result in the proper context a similar question was asked about Afghanistan with one auxiliary question. What is the likelihood that the United States will withdraw from Afghanistan representing a technical defeat? (+98.14 SP tag). If so: What is the likelihood that upon a United States withdrawal from Afghanistan would the Afghan troops trained by the United States and its supporting government will remain in power for at least one month [+04.00 SP tag], six months [+001.00 SP tag] and one year or more [-/+000 SP tag.]?
The conclusion is this exercise is the fact that chaos within the premise that planet Earth is a toxic swamp populated by predators and parasites and survives only as a collective race with the elements of want, hunger, disease and each other are calculated as variables. By concluding these circumstances, G-101 Algorithm presents its “best guess” matrix.
Now for the rest of the story, courtesy of Julian E. Barnes and the New York Times.
Ukrainian citizens learned to make Molotov cocktails from government public service announcements, then recorded themselves setting Russian armored vehicles on fire. Ukraine’s soldiers waited in ambush and fired Western-provided missiles at Russian tanks. The country’s president recorded messages from the streets of his capital, urging his country to fight back against the invaders.
It was a stark contrast from a different set of images, just seven months ago, when the Taliban rolled into Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, unopposed. Most Afghan troops abandoned their uniforms and weapons. The president fled to the United Arab Emirates, leaving his country to the Taliban militants it had fought for some two decades.
The intelligence community and American military appear to have misjudged both countries’ will to fight, according to lawmakers. In Afghanistan, intelligence agencies had predicted the government and its forces could hold on for at least six months after the U.S. withdrawal. In Ukraine, intelligence officials thought the Russian army would take Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, in two days. Both estimates proved wrong.
Assessing how well and how fiercely a military, and a nation, will defend itself is extraordinarily difficult. There are many factors to consider, including its leadership, the supplies at its disposal, the strength of the enemy and whether an opposing force is seen as an invader.
The miscalculations demonstrate that even in an age of electronic intercepts and analysis assisted by vast data collection, human relationships still matter in accurately assessing the morale of a country or military. Former intelligence officials say that is why it is critically important that the perspectives of people working directly with partner forces reach policymakers in Washington.
Had the U.S. view of Afghanistan been more realistic, efforts to evacuate Afghans who had assisted the American war effort could have begun earlier — or perhaps some of the billions of dollars put toward training Kabul’s military could have been spent in other ways.
With Ukraine, according to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, if the United States had had a better sense of how strong and effective the Ukrainian resistance would be against a Russian invasion, it might have sent more weapons to the country sooner.
Ukrainian fighters with the Territorial Defense Forces being trained in first aid this month in Kyiv.Credit...Lynsey Addario for The New York Times
“Assessing the will to fight in advance of a conflict like this is difficult. However the lesson of the last year is we have to figure out how to do that,” said Senator Angus King, a Maine independent and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “If we had known in advance how strong the Ukrainians would be and how weak the Russians would be, we might have been able to preposition more equipment and had aid to the Ukrainians flow in faster, based on the assumption they had a real chance.”
How badly the intelligence agencies got it wrong is subject to debate. Ahead of the invasion, Ukraine experts “clearly and repeatedly” told policymakers in the White House and Congress that Ukraine’s government and people “probably would resist a Russian invasion,” a U.S. official said.
But intelligence reports are usually hedged. And under questioning from Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, Lt. Gen. Scott D. Berrier, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said this month that, before the invasion, he had thought the Ukrainians were not as ready for an attack as they needed to be.
“Therefore, I questioned their will to fight. That was a bad assessment on my part because they have fought bravely and honorably,” General Berrier said.
In an interview, Mr. Cotton said the intelligence agencies were at their best assessing Russia in the lead-up to the invasion. Once the invasion began, the assessments of Ukraine’s capabilities and Russia’s military were “less than stellar.” Still, he said, judging how effective a country’s defenses will be ahead of a potential attack is tricky.
“Will to fight is not a discrete area of intelligence you can go out and collect on it,” Mr. Cotton said. “It’s not like how many working fighters did an air force have? There’s a lot of subjectivity.”
Recent counteroffensives by the Ukrainian military suggest that the country’s leaders are resolved to do more than simply defend Ukraine against the Russian invasion. Over the last week, Ukrainian forces have used tanks and fighter jets to attack Russian positions outside Kyiv and other cities in a way that demonstrates that their objective is not to take back territory, but to destroy Russian forces. It is a sign of not only savvy strategy but a clear intent by Ukraine to defeat the Russian military and win the war.
Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said it was easy to overstate what the intelligence community got wrong, both in Ukraine and Afghanistan. Last summer, intelligence agencies repeatedly warned that the Afghan government would collapse and that military leaders were surrendering to the Taliban, Mr. Schiff said.