There Is A Time-Honored Way To Help Ukraine Quickly Defeat Russia
The economic sanctions and boycotts directed at Putin’s Russia have been and will continue to be a complete failure. They may cause an economic slowdown in Russia, even a significant one. Aeroflot may stop flying outside the country. The French may seize the oligarchs’ floating brothels disguised as yachts, and Putin’s mistresses may miss their latest designer gowns from the Paris fashion shows. At the corner grocery store in Moscow, the shelves may be more even bare than usual. The sanctions will be “successful” only in that way. But these sanctions will not stop one bullet from being fired in Ukraine or prevent another kilometer of Ukrainian territory from being seized. That’s all that counts and, in that way, these sanctions are and will be a total failure.
But there is a way to turn the Russian invasion around in seven days. In less than a week, we could send Putin’s platoons back down the muddy roads to Russia, licking their wounds as they go. It will not necessitate American boots on the ground. And if Mr. Putin objects, it’s simply a technique he and his predecessors perfected over the years.
In 1939, the world faced a power-hungry, territory-taking gangster-dictator just as we do now. The United States wanted to help Great Britain fight Hitler, but our misguided neutrality laws forbade it. So, President Roosevelt found a way around that law by “trading” 50 old American destroyers in exchange for the American Navy’s use of the port of Bermuda. It was called the “Lend-Lease” program. The American destroyers, crewed by Brits, with a few American “consultants” on board, helped break the back of Hitler’s U-boat flotillas.
After Hitler invaded Russia in June 1941, long before the United States was officially in the war, we supplied Stalin with the equipment Russia needed to fight the German onslaught. Rather than claiming we were lending the tanks, guns, and planes to Russia, we freely admitted they were gifts. In the final tally, we sent Russia almost 425,000 jeeps and trucks, 14,000 airplanes, and 13,000 tanks. Much of it came to Mother Russia’s rescue before Pearl Harbor.
So, there’s no doubt Russia accepts the precedent of accepting military aid from a noncombatant country. But knowing it is more blessed to give than receive, they reversed the concept in the 1960s. North Vietnamese pilots flew Russian airplanes to shoot down American airmen. Russian missiles were shot at those who were not shot down by Russian aircraft. Russia gave the North Vietnamese thousands of artillery pieces and tanks, millions of rounds of ammunition, and virtually everything else the North Vietnamese requested. The bayonet on the end of the AK-47 that penetrated my knee was undoubtedly made by “the happy workers at Kalashnikov Commune #43” or some similar Russian factory.
The practice continues in the Middle East today. The Russians actively arm the Iranians, the PLO and their Hamas brothers, and the Houthi rebels trying to close the southern end of the Suez Canal. We recently intercepted an ocean-going ship packed with the latest Russian weapons from bow to stern, keel to mast.
After seeing America’s army and its honor abandoned in Kabul, many American senior military officers are willing to share their dissatisfaction and ideas for defeating Putin’s army.
The concept is straightforward. We employ the same technique Russia accepted and used for decades. But in this case, the weapon we supply to the Ukrainians can make any Russian offensive untenable. Officially it’s the M39A1 missile. It’s known to the troops as the B-BAM. The two Bs stand for Big and Bad, and the M equals Missile. I’ll let you figure out the A.
Image: Russian-made PT76 tank at Ben Het, Vietnam. Public domain.
The B-BAM rides to battle on the back of a tank-like vehicle. Each transporter carries two missiles. Those very accurate GPS-navigated missiles can be ready to fire moments after the transporter pulls off the road. They have a range of up to 300 km, but it’s what they do when they get to the target that’s really interesting.
Rather than having one big warhead, the M39A1 carries 300 small bomblets. As the missile descends on the target, the nosecone separates. This spreads the bomblets over a wide target area. The small bombs don’t create the huge explosions you currently see on cable TV. But those 300 small explosions are perfect for destroying equipment and disabling vehicles. And yes, since Civil War General Sherman already told us “War Is Hell,” we must admit they do a great job of killing or wounding enemy soldiers.
The U.S. Army has an ample supply of these missiles and their transporters in Germany. They can easily be driven to the Poland-Ukraine border and turned over to the Ukrainian Army. There would be no need for American soldiers to accompany them past the border. Of course, the rockets’ contractor, Lockheed Martin, or whatever Blackwater calls itself this year, could always include some ubiquitous “civilian technical advisors” to help the Ukrainians. Most of them would probably be retired U.S. Army missile men. As dedicated as the Ukrainians are, we certainly wouldn’t want them aiming the B-BAMs in the wrong direction!
The targets would not just be the front-line Russian infantry soldiers. Many of them are dug in, ready for battle. The best targets would be Russian artillery and missile positions, rear area supply depots, and, most importantly, the supply system itself. That 40-mile-long convoy stalled north of Kyiv is a target-rich environment.
Armor-heavy invasion forces such as Putin is employing have one weak point: They can’t leave enough troops behind to guard their supply lines. Without those supplies, the blitzkrieg soon grinds to a halt. As an example, it was the German and Italian navy’s inability to supply Rommel across the Mediterranean that led to the loss of the Africa Corps. Rommel’s soldiers were well trained and very brave. They were also very hungry and critically low on ammunition. Robert E. Lee surrendered only after Union forces destroyed the ammunition and food he needed to continue.
We are either going to help the Ukrainians win by giving them the weapons that can decide this war or we are going to let Putin gobble up that country. In the immediate aftermath, China would green light taking Taiwan. If Kyiv falls, Putin will continue his march west as soon as his Russian army is rested and resupplied. He wants Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia so badly he can already taste the Latvian delicacy, cranberry pudding, when he licks his lips.
I know the most useless desktop accessory in Washington is a crystal ball. But in this case, there is no need to guess Putin’s intentions. He has made it painfully evident for years that he wants to re-create Rodinia, Imperial Mother Russia. Sanctions will not stop him nor will the small-scale individual antitank weapons we are supplying.
This is not a time for fancy-pants diplomacy. This is a gunfight. If you’re going to a gunfight, you had better bring the biggest gun you can find (short of nuclear), and ours is the B-BAM.
How will “the world community” react? Winners write the history books.
Ed Sherdlu is the pen name of a former CBS television network reporter. He uses a pen name because his mother would be so embarrassed to know that Ed's 12-Step Journalism Recovery Program had been a failure.