Tactics: what soldiers do on the battleground and diplomats do when they buy a chump a drink. Operations: putting the capabilities on the field to use tactics to achieve an interim objective.
As for strategy? Barack Obama says he doesn't have one for dealing with the Islamic State.
Vladimir Putin, however, has strategic goals for Ukraine and beyond Ukraine. He also has a strategy to achieve them and operations to forward the strategy.
The versatile KGB colonel and Kremlin propagandist has actually been rather honest about his strategic perspective, and his perspective provides insight on hits goals: Putin bewails, repeatedly, the USSR's collapse as a historic tragedy.
He does not accept the tragedy (defeat!) as a permanent condition. Since the Russo-Georgia War of 2008, Putin has insistently seized opportunities to launch new military and political operations that describe an ominous pattern: the calculated reconstruction of a Greater Russia which directly controls global power resources.
For the record -- and when it comes to strategic perception, the long record matters -- during the Cold War numerous security analysts (including myself) argued that the USSR was simply Greater Russia with a "red herring" Communist-egalitarian propaganda line. Communist promotion of Workers Paradise replaced the Czar's claim to be the Protector of Christendom. But try and tell that in a soundbite to the West's "useful idiots" of 1983 who claimed that Ronald Reagan planned to nuke Russia and destroy the world as his administration fulfilled Carter administration pledges to counter Russia's Europe-based nuclear theater ballistic missiles by deploying U.S. equivalent missiles.
Old history? Not if you follow the tactical intricacies and strategic trajectory of Putin's Ukraine propaganda.
What does a Great Russia with global power resources look like? The RUBK -- pronounced "rubik" as in in the puzzle Rubik's Cube. RUBK is Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Khazakstan. With its demographics and natural resources, RUBK is a geo-strategic formula for a global power
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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