Ukraine following US blueprint to fight Russia – CNN

The plan envisages not just the military, but also civilians taking part in “total defense,” former military commanders say

Women taught to use a Kalashnikov assault rifles in Ukraine’s in Zaporozhye region. © AFP / Maria Moiseyenko

During its conflict with Russia, Ukraine has been relying on a US-developed doctrine that involves both the military and civilians taking part in defensive activities, CNN reported on Saturday.

The Resistance Operating Concept (ROC), which is said to provide a blueprint for smaller states to counter larger powers, was developed in 2013 in response to Russia’s conflict with Georgia in 2008. It was further enhanced after Crimea’s “nearly bloodless” reunification with Moscow in 2014, which “stunned Ukraine and the West,” CNN said.

The ROC represents “an innovative and unconventional approach to warfare and total defense,” and guides the actions not only of the Ukrainian military, but also the civilian population.

“It’s all hands on deck in terms of the comprehensive defense for the government of Ukraine,” explained retired Lt. Gen. Mark Schwartz, who was in charge of Special Operations Command Europe during the development of the concept. “They’re using every resource and they’re also using some highly unconventional means by which to disrupt the Russian Federation military.” 

Schwartz said it was “just incredible to watch… despite the unbelievable loss of life and sacrifice, what the will to resist and the resolve to resist can do.”

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Explosions at Russia’s military facilities in Crimea – far from the front line in Donbass – earlier in August were signs that the ROC had been in play, claimed Kevin D. Stringer, a retired army colonel who led the development team for the concept.

Kiev never officially confirmed its involvement in the incidents, but CNN said it saw a Ukrainian government report confirming that it was behind them.

Russia said the blasts at its Saki airfield in western Crimea were the result of an accident, while an ammunition depot in the north of the peninsula had been targeted in an “act of sabotage.”

“Since you can’t do it conventionally, you would use special operations forces, and those [forces] would need resistance support – intelligence, resources, logistics – in order to access these regions,” Stringer said, explaining the alleged actions by Kiev.

Civilian resistance under the ROC includes nonviolent actions such as boycotting public events, labor strikes, and even using satire and jokes as means of resistance. Violent actions, like using Molotov cocktails, arson and putting chemicals in gas tanks to sabotage enemy vehicles, are also part of the concept.

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Generally, the doctrine calls for a major PR campaign to control the narrative of the conflict, preventing the dissemination of the other side’s message, and keeping the population united.

Video footage showing destroyed Russian hardware and edited to catchy tunes forms part of the strategy, along with clips of Ukrainian troops rescuing stray animals, and daily addresses by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky – “whether intentional or not,” CNN claimed.

At least 15 countries have taken part in some form of training on the Pentagon’s resistance doctrine over the past decade, Nicole Kirschmann, a spokeswoman for Special Operations Command Europe, revealed.

The program isn’t universal. It’s being tailored in accordance with each country’s population, resources and terrain. CNN’s report mentioned Estonia, Lithuania and Poland as nations that have expressed enthusiasm for the ROC.

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