Very good point about the use of counterfactuals. Sometimes there are historical documents from the warring parties' plans that didn't come to fruition that can help us assess the counterfactuals better.

Why a war is won can be alot more complicated than you suggest. The Kiel mutiny, for example, may have played a larger part in the ending of WW1, as may the relative roles of the atom bomb and the Soviet declaration of war in the Emperor's decision to enter his Cabinet's decision-making ending the War in the Pacific. These are counterfactuals of sorts which are decisive depending on the emphasis you give them. To Hitler, Ludendorff, Hindenburg and very many in Weimar Germany, for example, the Army's defeat was a counterfactual, it had been stabbed in the back by German communists, social democrats and Jews.

Finally, although your title didn't eventually get transmitted into your excellent content, WW1 was held to have proven the superiority of the defensive, and yet the war in the Middle East between Britain and the Ottoman Empire was entirely one of manoeuvre. Had it been one of attrition, either Britain would have withdrawn and thus lost, needing its resources to face the Imperial German Army in Europe, in which case the Ottoman Empire would have stood and the current Arab-Israeli conflict would never have happened. Or Britain would have won a war of attrition and so prevented the upstart Turkey from committing genocide and being the nuisance it was in the postwar period (and has been ever since?).

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Did Russian units really get "mauled" in the early stages of the SMO? There were plenty of "claims" by sources that have been shown to lie constantly. The actual confirmed losses of these various units (for example the 155th Marine Brigade) are all tiny fractions of what the claims are. In fact, captured Ukrainian documents seem to indicate that the Ukes were losing 2 soldiers for every 1 Russian in the early days; a number that has gotten even worse for them as Russian artillery dominance becomes ever more pronounced.

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It's not relative attrition rate that I'm talking about, it's absolute losses. VDV, the 155th, and plenty of regular line infantry formations sustained heavy enough losses that it affected their effectiveness as maneuver elements.

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