The Washington PostThe Washington Post

Ukraine's counteroffensive will succeed. But success won't come easy

By Mark Hertling

15 May 2023 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

In the Post, ex-US Army Europe commander Mark Hertling writes that Ukraine's counteroffensive will need a coordinated and synchronized team performance. No wonder the preparations have taken so long.

After months of near-daily coverage on the World War I-style fighting between Ukraine's army and various Russian units near Bakhmut, the anticipated Ukrainian spring offensive will likely occur soon. How soon? It's impossible to tell. It could kick off within days or within weeks. Those speculating on exactly when such an attack might take place need to understand the complex challenge facing Ukrainian forces.

As a professional soldier, Ukrainian Gen. Valery Zaluzhny knows he holds only two major advantages when going on the offensive: picking the time and the place of the attack. He knows that after launching tens of thousands of soldiers against the Russian army - a force that has been preparing defensive positions for months - it's impossible to call them back. Perhaps that's one reason Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, after visiting his troops the night before the D-Day invasion, returned to his drafty cottage to write a note taking full responsibility for the failure of the Normandy landings, if that were to be the outcome. Luckily, that invasion was successful.

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