If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
News You Can Use – Borrowed Armor
By David Bachelor, PhD
When someone does an action that pushes against natural design, their effort can be compared to a dog walking on its hind legs. The 18th century English philosopher who coined this analogy closed his correlation by observing, “It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.” A story making headlines offers a further example of ignoring organic formation.
The group being asked to push against natural design is the Ukrainian military. The New York Times broke this story on August 2nd, “Ukrainian Troops Trained by the West Stumble in Battle.” The next day, Business Insider summarized the New York Times article with their headline, “Ukrainian Troops Are Abandoning US Tactics in Their Counteroffensive Because They Haven’t Worked.” The Times article cites an expert who opined, “The problem was in the assumption that with a few months of training, Ukrainian units could be converted into fighting … the way American forces might fight.”
The August 6 Newsweek story, “Why U.S. War Tactics Are Failing in Ukraine” also put the blame on hasty training but offered another alternative. The experts cited in this article emphasized U.S. and NATO warfighting depends on air superiority. The tactics taught to the Ukrainians, “… so heavily reliant on controlling the skies, has only been tested in recent years in arenas where the alliance [NATO] had air superiority.” The Ukrainians lack the jet fighters and attack helicopters necessary for control of the skies. Without these key weapons, a think tank analyst stated, “It is unsurprising that Ukrainians have given up on some of the Western training as their experience and adaptation under fire trumps Western peacetime concepts.”
A war between two mismatched adversaries is frequently referred to as a “David and Goliath” contest. The Biblical narrative that is the source of this epithet holds some lessons that apply to this week’s headlines. King Saul, the commander of Israel’s army contrasted David’s lack of military training with Goliath’s many years of soldiering (1 Sam 17:33). This was the reason Saul “… had his own military clothes put on David. Saul put a bronze helmet on David’s head and had him put on Saul’s armor” (1Sa 17:38). David was a shepherd who was unfamiliar with military equipment. David told the king, “I can’t walk in these, I’m not used to them” (1Sa 17:39). Instead, David reverted to the tactics that worked for him as a shepherd, “David chose five smooth stones and put them in his shepherd’s bag. Then, with his sling in his hand, David approached Goliath” (1Sa 17:40). Using his authentic fighting style (which included trusting in God), David defeated his larger and better armed adversary (1 Sa 17:50-51).
After a summer of combat using the West’s tactics, the results for the Ukrainians can be summarized by the English philosopher’s observation, “It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.” Like David, the Ukrainians are already reverting to their native style. However the real lesson in this contest is the one David learned, “It is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s” (1Sa 17:47).