The Russian Military Cannot Make Decisions Without Senior Officers

The dangers of top down leadership

4 min readApr 2, 2022


Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash

I make no claims of military knowledge or experience, but as a history buff and observer of current events I am struck by an extreme issue the Russian army is having. Apparently their chain of command means anyone below the level of a colonel cannot make decisions on the battlefield.

It seems like every day we read of their loss of another senior officer. Seven generals so far and multiple colonels. My ex-military friends see this as a serious flaw in leadership and decision-making structure. In modern warfare it is extremely unusual for senior officers like generals to be on the ground and in the line of fire.

There is a good reason for this. A general should be viewing a strategic big picture and making broader decisions designed to pursue that strategy, not in the thick of things making tactical choices like how to deploy a tank column as it enters an area of uncertainty.

This was vividly demonstrated by a well known video clip showing a column of tanks entering an urban area near Kyiv, getting ambushed and destroyed by anti-tank weapons and drones from an unseen enemy. We see the tanks in a line getting picked off. The Ukrainians attacking take out the tanks at the head of the column, making it very difficult for the entire column to progress or retreat.

Then they pick off the rest. In less than thirty seconds, millions of dollars in complex weapons systems and many Russian lives are destroyed by a handful of ground troops. But as I watched this with a friend, a former Marine and Army vet deployed in combat in both Afghanistan and Iraq, one thing stood out about the whole situation.

There were no Russian infantry on the ground around their tank column. Tanks are not nimble weapons. They can’t defend against a small group with anti-tank weapons that can destroy and fade into the confusion. The role of those missing infantry is to fight those nearby attacking their machines.

It’s very basic stuff and reveals a fundamental weakness in the overall Russian army. It appears that there is no one close to the action who can authorize defense based on real time. On top of this, we hear that Russian conscripts…




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