How Ukrainian Special Forces Played a Crucial Role in Defeating Russia’s Invasion Through Flexibility, Professionalism and Decentralization

  On July 29 local time, Ukrainian President Zelensky personally went to the front line of Bakhmut on the “Special Operations Forces Warrior Day” to inspect a special forces station. During his inspection, Zelensky affirmed the role of special forces, saying, “On the occasion of Special Operations Forces Warrior Day, I congratulate them and have the honor to congratulate them, shake hands and present awards to them personally. They are always on the front line The hottest areas, the most responsible special missions. It’s the same now – near Bakhmut, I went to them. I thank them for their strength and heroism, for their professionalism, for their Defend Ukraine in an extremely professional way.”
  Since the start of the war, 17 Ukrainian special forces fighters have been awarded the title of Ukrainian Hero, which is the highest proportion of combat arms to receive this title. In this war, the Ukrainian special forces can be said to be the mainstay of the battle. Not only did they rely on flexible tactics to continuously harass the Russian army’s supply line at the beginning of the war, making it difficult for the armored group attacking Kiev, but they also continued to cooperate with other troops to attack enemy generals during the war. Carry out decapitation.
  In the past, there was a voice that special forces could only play a role in low-intensity battles such as the war on terrorism. In high-intensity all-out wars, the firepower of special forces at the level of light infantry was almost useless, and it was not even as effective as an artillery regiment. Lethality. However, in the Russo-Ukrainian War, the active performance of Ukrainian special forces clearly made people see the great potential of special forces in future wars.
  Special forces with only light weapons are not supermen. Why can they still play a huge role in the face of the powerful firepower of tanks and cannons?
  To answer this question, we first need to understand what the nature of special forces is. From the perspective of weapons and equipment, special forces are undoubtedly light infantry. Special forces with tanks like in the movie “Wolf Warriors” do not exist in reality. Most of the ground vehicles of special forces are military off-road vehicles, even It is an unarmored all-terrain off-road vehicle. Weaponry and vehicles are not their core competitiveness. The real core strength is the professionalism, diversified capabilities, autonomy and decentralization of special forces.
  Special forces will not conduct large-scale group assaults. They operate in combat groups of 3-6 people, and some tasks may even be carried out in the form of individual soldiers. Group activities make special forces not only more flexible, but also more covert. Even in an all-out war like Russia and Ukraine, it is impossible for enemy defenders to exist every kilometer on the confrontational line of defense. Therefore, scattered small-scale troops still have a lot of opportunities to infiltrate the enemy’s rear. Professional and autonomous personnel determine that special forces can complete tasks more actively and flexibly, such as attacking the enemy’s vulnerable nodes, or guiding long-range firepower to attack the enemy’s logistics warehouses and command centers. A smaller formation means that such units are less dependent on logistics. Ukrainian special forces do not even need to carry much food in the early stages of the war, and can be supplied by local people on the spot. As long as they have ammunition and communication equipment, they can always fight on. However, once there is a problem with the logistics of a large and bloated unit, its combat effectiveness will drop sharply.
  In fact, at the beginning of the war, the Ukrainian special forces, with the support of the Homeland Defense Forces, relied on anti-armor teams to flexibly attack the logistics of the huge tank group attacking Kiev. Although the 60-kilometer-long armored convoy was spectacular, it was forced to stop after the logistics line was continuously attacked, and finally failed to enter Kiev, the capital of Ukraine. This attack not only successfully stopped the Russian offensive, but also gave the Ukrainian army valuable time. The Ukrainian high command did not need to withdraw the main force of the eastern Ukrainian army from the front line to defend Kiev, and also gained time to mobilize the whole country to increase the number of troops. This distributed defense is undoubtedly a strategic success.
  From a technical point of view, special forces are actually the most primitive integrated reconnaissance and strike combat unit, which can complete reconnaissance tasks and launch direct attacks at the same time, similar to the reconnaissance and strike integrated drone that shined brilliantly in the Russo-Ukrainian War. same. In fact, the role of special forces may be far more than that for the Ukrainian army. It can even be said that the construction of special forces has reshaped the Ukrainian army and allowed it to persist in this war until now.
  Few people understand that Poland, the staunchest supporter of Ukraine, quickly became a NATO country after the end of the Cold War, mainly due to the establishment of special forces. After Poland broke away from the Warsaw Pact and moved closer to the West, its original Sovietized army had to undergo NATO transformation. The Polish army did not rush to replace its weapons and equipment at that time, but established a brand new special force with the support of the United Kingdom and the United States – Thunder The Special Task Force (GROM), which is a force established completely with reference to the American Delta Force and the British Special Royal Air Service Regiment, personnel selection, weapons and equipment, command system, and logistics support mechanism are all completely replicated one-to-one. This mere 200 The small unit of people became the core unit of Polish military reform.

  The fundamental reason why special forces are so important is that the core of the formation of special forces is specialization and autonomy. Specialization does not lie in how accurately a soldier shoots a gun or how fast he runs, but that most members of the unit are professional officers and professional non-commissioned officers, and the proportion of professional non-commissioned officers must be far greater than that of conscripts. And autonomy means that these non-commissioned officers and officers can independently decide what meaningful things they should do on the battlefield without orders and specific tasks, instead of waiting for their superiors to kick your ass. Special forces are the unit that is easiest to achieve specialization and autonomy, and it is also the path with the lowest cost at the beginning of rebuilding the army. After the special forces complete the formation of NATO, their experience can be extended to other conventional units. What’s more interesting is that the members of special forces are all selected from conventional units, and they are paid better and have higher status. Standards to improve yourself so that you can be selected for special forces. When I was talking to a shooting instructor at a military academy in Poland, he told me that he was still training hard and hoped to join the Thunder Special Forces, which was his life goal.
  After the dramatic changes in Ukraine and the new government came to power in 2014, military reform became a necessary strategic task, so the Ukrainian Special Operations Command (SOCOM) was established in December 2015, and gradually formed four army special operations regiments, three There are two naval special operations regiments and two training centers, with a strength of about 2,000 troops. Since its establishment, the force has received help from countries such as Poland and the United States. Poland is very clear about how to transform into a NATO-style army, so it started with the transformation of special forces and taught Ukraine hand in hand, and the results of the eight-year reform have proved to be very effective in subsequent wars.

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