w/c 14th November 2022
The concept of “quiet quitting” has enjoyed some popularity in the media of late. It means, as I understand it, doing just enough to fulfil your employment contract but no more. No staying late at night or coming in early, and certainly no working at weekends. It’s the revenge of a generation of university graduates who are unable to find jobs worthy of their degrees. They have my every sympathy. The days of pleasing the boss and showing willing by going that extra (unpaid) mile are over.
It would appear that this particular malaise has spread and infected the Russian armed forces in Ukraine, or in some cases even before they get there. We see numerous accounts of reluctance to advance and instances of insubordination and downright refusal to obey orders which are bordering on mutiny. This is not a good look for the armed services of any country, far less for one already at war.
There are many examples of this historically, but also of the opposite ie fighting on when all hope is lost. Think of the surviving Japanese soldiers who emerged from the jungles of Pacific islands decades after the end of the Second World War. Or of the young men of the Hitler Youth and Waffen SS who continued to battle against Allied forces towards the end of the same conflict in northwest Europe, when is was obvious to them and everybody else that Germany had lost the war.
But Russian forces appear to be treading the path of many other armies who gave up instead of fighting on. The Afghan National Army immediately springs to mind, when it melted away in the face of a resurgent Taliban when the west abandoned it and Afghanistan in those chaotic scenes not so long ago. Or of the Iraqi army in the first Gulf War in 1991, when many of their soldiers surrendered at the first opportunity in the face of the Coalition’s overwhelming superiority. Or even of Vietnam, where instances of indiscipline and the “fragging” of unpopular officers were reported as US public support for that war melted away.
The truth is that battles and wars are not usually won by exterminating or annihilating the enemy but by breaking his/her will to resist further. This can be achieved by demonstrating the hopelessness of the opposition’s position or cause and by the enemy winning on the battlefield. Contributory factors involved in such a collapse of morale and fighting spirit can include bad leadership, lack of decent food, warm clothing, decent equipment, and comradeship. Most important of all of these by far is the failure of leadership.
Ukraine has good leaders and high morale, Russia does not. That’s why Ukraine is winning.
Have you signed up for the Defence Review Podcast? https://open.spotify.com/show/4vHJsYgxfrDyTkKgMpGlqs
Lt Col Stuart Crawford’s latest book Tank Commander (Hardback) is available for pre-order now