Discover more from The View from the Front. By Stan R. Mitchell.
The view from the front: military matters and motivation for 6/17/22.
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Happy Friday! Hope everyone has had a great week and has some amazing weekend plans! At least around here, temperatures are finally going to drop a bit, which is more than needed.
Two quick bits of personal news. First, we had several new subscribers this week, so thanks so much for that! So honored, and welcome!
Secondly, my first book about Danny Acuff, a badass detective and prior Force Recon Marine, is now available in audio!
It was a ton of work getting this completed, but I had a great time doing it, and hopefully, it leads to me owning a beach cabin someday. lol. (It probably won’t, but a man can dream.)
In Ukraine news, there were several good things of note worth sharing, and then a couple of things to keep an eye on.
First, Ukraine has moved one big step closer to EU membership. That should do wonders for its economy and long-term security arrangements.
Second, America approved another large chunk of security assistance, which is great news.
The package of assistance includes the following, according to the Dept of Defense:
Eighteen 155mm Howitzers;
36,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition;
18 Tactical Vehicles to tow 155mm Howitzers;
Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems;
Four Tactical Vehicles to recover equipment;
Spare parts and other equipment.
Finally, I’ll share one other piece of potentially good news, and then I need to balance that with a couple of concerning matters.
I’ve covered EXTENSIVELY the Russian blockade of Ukraine’s grain. (Background for those who missed it/new subscribers: check out this newsletter.)
But on that front, the Biden Administration is exploring another alternative. Instead of some kind of naval solution, they’re now exploring a potentially new concept:
Biden said Washington was developing a plan to get grain out by rail, but noted Ukrainian track gauges were different from those in Europe, so the grain has to be transferred to different trains at the border.
"So we're going to build silos, temporary silos, on the borders of Ukraine, including in Poland," Biden said.
I think this is a great idea, and certainly less risky than my suggestion of a coalition navy of the world.
Now, for the two concerning things.
First, as much as I’m a cheerleader and believe in Ukraine, we have to caution our hopes with news such as this.
General Milley said in the story above that the new weapons just announced will arrive too late to prevent Russia from taking control of the Donbas.
“The Ukrainians are fighting them street by street house by house,” Milley said. “And it's not a done deal. There are no inevitabilities in war. War takes many, many turns. So I wouldn't say it's an inevitability. But I would say that the numbers clearly favor the Russians.”
That’s truly unfortunate because not to be too graphic, but every city and town seized is nearly flattened in the process, and its men are often executed and the women are often raped.
The second concerning thing was this item, which I saw with much chagrin.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken had taken off on separate flights from southeastern Poland after their risky, high-stakes visit to Kyiv when they were conferenced into a phone call from President Joe Biden.
During their whirlwind April trip, Austin appeared to expand the U.S. goals in Ukraine, saying publicly that the administration wanted the Ukrainians to win the war against Russia, not just defend themselves, and that the U.S. hoped to weaken Russia to the extent that it could not launch another unprovoked invasion. Blinken had publicly aligned himself with the remarks. Now Biden wanted to discuss the mounting headlines that resulted.
Biden thought the secretaries had gone too far, according to multiple administration officials familiar with the call. On the previously unreported conference call, as Austin flew to Germany and Blinken to Washington, the president expressed concern that the comments could set unrealistic expectations and increase the risk of the U.S. getting into a direct conflict with Russia. He told them to tone it down, said the officials.
“Biden was not happy when Blinken and Austin talked about winning in Ukraine,” one of them said. “He was not happy with the rhetoric.”
The story then goes on to back-pedal some, with a spokesperson saying off the record that “the administration’s position has been that any decision about how and on what terms to end the war is for Ukraine to decide.”
“We are not pressuring them to make concessions, as some Europeans are. We would never ask them to cede territory,” one U.S. official said. “We are planning for a long war. We intend to prepare the American people for that, and we are prepared to ask Congress for more money.”
Now, for my comments.
As I’ve said repeatedly, the Biden Administration has done a great job when it comes to Ukraine. They’ve rallied support around the world. They’ve sent money and weapons. They’ve shown a steady hand and not backed down, despite over-the-top nuclear threats from Russia (and just stupidly dangerous coverage of these threats by our own media ecosystem, who seem oh-so-interested in stoking up fear and gaining more eyeballs).
Biden has shown nerve and spine up to this point. But this is the first bit of wavering, which has me a bit worried. Because this is often how the change in a policy begins. A leader starts to second guess themselves. An election approaches. The American public gets distracted by the Kardashians or whatever is popular these days. (The next Tiger King, if you will.)
Every President has done this very thing, from Trump not building a wall despite years of promises, Obama not closing Guantanamo and continuing the wars handed to him, and Bush saying he’d reduce government spending and privatize Social Security. As you all know, none of these things happened.
I hope this phone call from Biden was a mis-step and moment of shaky weariness (it’s not easy at the top), but only time will tell.
Ultimately, the American public decides these things and we have to hope that there continues to be support for Ukrainian freedom across both parties. Guys like Tucker Carlson are doing their best to erode this support on at least one side, but so far, almost 80 percent support the righteous cause of the Ukrainian people.
Keep your fingers crossed that this doesn’t change, or 40-plus million Ukrainians are going to face some horrific odds and dreadful years (even if they somehow hold the Russians at bay).
Moving away from Ukraine to the Middle East, there was a rare raid in Syria a couple of days ago. (See below.)
I’m glad the Biden administration is still going after those who need to be gone after.
Okay, enough heavy stuff.
In case you missed it, here was a heck of a heart-warming story.
I don’t know much about John Cena, but I find it amazing that he hasn’t let celebrity go to his head and is willing to go to such inconveniences to impact the life of someone.
Moving further along, in weird news that just blew my mind, check out this little historic news bit.
And because I’m a sucker for awesome military pics, take a look at these.
Thanks again for reading, let’s end with some motivation and wisdom.
That’s it for this edition.
As a reminder, please be kind and endeavor to love your fellow Americans. We need to pull this country together, and that starts with all of us.
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Stan R. Mitchell
P.S. Don’t forget to check out my books. I’ve written a CIA/Marine sniper series, a detective series, a private investigator series, an action-packed Western, a leadership/biography book, and two realistic war novels: one about World War IIand one about Afghanistan.