Tag: bakhmut
Danziger Draws

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City and Vermont. He is a long time cartoonist for The Rutland Herald and is represented by Counterpoint Syndicate. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Beyond Bakhmut's Ordeal, The News From Ukraine Is Mostly Good

Beyond Bakhmut's Ordeal, The News From Ukraine Is Mostly Good

Yevgeny Prighozin announced yesterday that his Wagner Group mercenaries had “taken” Bakhmut from Ukrainian forces. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy fired right back from the meeting of the G-7 in Japan: “Bakhmut is not occupied by Russian Federation as of today. There are no two or three interpretations of those words.” But he went on to compare the damage he saw in photos at the Hiroshima memorial to what has happened to Bakhmut, where nearly every structure inside the town limits has been either destroyed or severely damaged.

“For today, Bakhmut is only in our hearts, and there is nothing on this place,” Zelensky told reporters, apparently indicating that there is virtually nothing left of the physical town of Bakhmut. He emphasized that there were “a lot of dead Russians” from the fighting in Bakhmut, according to the Washington Post, which reported that for every Ukrainian soldier killed in the battle for the eastern Ukrainian town, five Russians had been killed. Other estimates of the ratio have been as high as seven dead Russians for every Ukrainian killed.

It's hard to know what the truth is about Bakhmut, or even if there is a “truth” at this point. Maps of the fighting in Bakhmut published on May 14 by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) showed Ukrainian forces have been pushed to the western limits of the town, out near a reservoir and the Bakhmut Children’s Hospital, which the Ukrainian military has held onto despite a Russian offensive. The fighting appears to be street to street, house to house. The ISW map showed, for example, that Russian forces had moved as far west as General Chernyakhovsky Lane. Ukrainian forces took that Russian move, and counterattacked at the Berkhivka Reservoir, just a few blocks away.

There are other reports that Ukrainian forces have taken back land to the north and south of Bakhmut that Russia had held for months, and one report claimed that it was the first part of a Ukrainian pincer move that would end up with the Russian forces inside the Bakhmut city limits surrounded. It seems to be the case that the Ukrainian Army has managed to hold onto a smaller and smaller sliver of territory inside the Bakhmut city limits so Russia could not say that the town has fallen. But now that Prighozin has gone ahead and made that claim, it’s anybody’s guess what the Ukrainians will do next.

As Zelensky indicated in Japan at the G-7, what they are fighting over when it comes to Bakhmut is a town that has been completely destroyed. That Russia has been willing to spend the lives of so many of its troops – as many as 100,000 either killed or wounded since last December – is either proof of Putin’s hubris, Prigohzin’s hubris, or both. Sources inside Russia have indicated to Western reporters that the battle for Bakhmut is as much about a war going on between Putin and his erstwhile “friend” Prigohzin as it is about anything else. As with so much else in a war, only time will tell whatever truth can be discovered about what is really going on.

While the battle for Bakhmut rages, Putin has continued his campaign of trying to pound Ukraine into submission with another rocket attack on Kyiv last week. Last Tuesday, Russia launched a barrage of rockets on Ukraine’s capital city – three Iskander land-to-land missiles, nine Kalibr missiles launched from ships in the Black Sea, and six air-launched Kinzhal “hypersonic” missiles. Ukraine claimed the next day that all 18 Russian missiles aimed at Kyiv had been intercepted and destroyed by Patriot anti-missile batteries that are protecting the city.

Russia reacted typically to the Ukrainian claim, saying that the Kyiv government had gotten wrong both the number and the types of missiles Russia launched. Film footage on CNN seemed to show that some of the debris was from the Russian Kinzhal missiles. Reuters reported, “It was the first time Ukraine had claimed to have struck an entire volley of multiple Kinzhal missiles, and if confirmed, would be a demonstration of the effectiveness of its newly deployed Western air defenses.”

Two things are going on here. One, the Russian claim that the Kinzhal is a “hypersonic” missile is almost certainly hollow, even meaningless. Any air-to-air missile by definition travels at more than the speed of sound, perhaps even double the speed of sound, and thus would not be remarkable by itself. In other words, the word “hypersonic” is an oxymoron. Even ballistic missiles with a parabolic flight path descend at more than the speed of sound.

But the Ukrainian claim of having successfully defended Kyiv with American-supplied Patriot missile batteries is an extraordinary feat. The Patriot missile system is a complicated beast consisting of a truck carrying as many as 16 Patriot anti-missile missiles, an array of radar dishes and antennas, and an “Engagement Control Station,” also truck-mounted, where the launching and tracking of incoming enemy missiles is monitored as well as the tracking of out-going Patriot missiles. (There is also a generator truck to power everything.)

A Patriot battalion consists of four-to-six line batteries, which are made up of six individual Patriot launchers and control systems. Each battery consists of a launcher platoon, fire-control platoon, and a maintenance platoon. About 80 soldiers serve in each battery, and there are about 600 soldiers assigned to each Patriot battalion. So, if Kyiv is being protected by a Patriot battalion, there are at least 24 Patriot launchers, and perhaps as many as 36 launchers, each capable of carrying up to 16 individual Patriot missiles.

The way the system works is this: the radar arrays for each Patriot battery “acquire” incoming aircraft or missiles, and through computer-controlled identification mark them as hostile. The radars track each incoming missile’s trajectory, and when the missiles come within range, the Patriot missile or missiles are fired automatically. For one of the very rapid Kinzhal missiles, as many as three Patriot missiles might be fired against it, each aimed at hitting the incoming missile at a different point in its trajectory to make sure one of the hits is a “kill.”

It gets really complicated when an enemy launches multiple missiles at once. Each missile must be “acquired” by radar separately, and a Patriot missile aimed at it individually or in pairs or threes, depending on what kind of enemy missile it is. If the Russians fired six Kinzhal missiles at Kyiv at once, there was some real computer-controlled scrambling going on to track each of them and assign three Patriot missiles to knock them down. That would be 18 Patriots being fired nearly simultaneously to take down such a swarm of Kinzhal missiles.

At the same time, the slower Iskandr and Kalibr missiles were coming in from different directions, so other Patriot batteries had to “acquire” each of them and fire their own missiles to knock them down. If it is true that Ukraine was able to shoot down all 18 Russian missiles fired on Tuesday, it is both an accomplishment of the U.S. technology involved in the Patriot system, and the Ukrainians' skill at deploying the extremely complicated weapon against the enemy missiles.

Officers and sergeants and enlisted soldiers in the U.S. will typically undergo months and months of training to become competent to serve on Patriot batteries. The Ukrainian army has had far less time to acquire the same skills because the U.S. didn’t get around to sending Patriots to Ukraine until recently. The governments of Germany and the Netherlands are known to have sent Patriot systems to Ukraine, and there are probably other nations supplying Ukraine with missiles that can be fired from the launchers.

All of this is good news, and there is even more. The Sunday Times of London reported on Tuesday that Sweden is supplying Ukraine with an entire mechanized brigade of military hardware that will soon be able to be deployed. The weapons include Leopard II tanks, CV90 Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and Archer 155 mm truck-mounted and automated howitzers that can be fired remotely by crews protected inside armored vehicles. A mechanized brigade has three to five thousand soldiers, so there will be a large number of tanks, armored personnel carriers, and automated howitzers on their way to Ukraine.

The Sunday Times story did not say how the Ukrainian military will be trained on the various systems, but some training on the Leopard II is going on in Germany and Poland already, and the Swedish armored personnel carriers are similar to ones the Ukrainians already had in their army’s inventory.

All of which is good, even very good news for Ukraine. At the G-7, Biden announced that another $375 million in military hardware would be on its way soon, including “more ammunition, artillery, armored vehicles to bolster Ukraine’s battlefield abilities.” Meanwhile, the Pentagon recently said that a “bookkeeping error” had been discovered, freeing-up more than $3 billion already appropriated for supplying U.S. weapons to Ukraine. It was not announced when those weapons will be shipped, or what the aid package will include, but any additional arms and supplies the U.S. can send to Ukraine at this point will be welcome.

Navigating the news out of Ukraine is confusing and complicated because information about an ongoing war is always out of control, sometimes unreliable, and can be confoundingly difficult to track. But for right now, as mixed as the news is about Bakhmut, the rest of what we’re learning about Ukraine is generally pretty good.

Watch this space for more updates and explanations of what is going on over there.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

What's Up With The Battle For Bakhmut? We'll Know When The Fog Clears

What's Up With The Battle For Bakhmut? We'll Know When The Fog Clears

News about Bakhmut has leaked out of both Ukraine and Russia over the last few days, and while neither the news nor the situation on the ground is definitive, it’s significant enough to take a look at. In fact, the reason we’re still watching the battle for Bakhmut so closely is perhaps the most significant thing of all.

As a city, Bakhmut is not terribly important. Before the war, the place had a population of about 70,000. There is a massive salt mine near the town that contains the largest underground space in the world -- it’s so big that Wikipedia tells us that a hot air balloon was once fired up and inflated inside the space.

Strategically, Bakhmut isn’t important either. The town sits on the road from Donetsk to Kyiv, but there are other ways to get to and from both places. It does stand between the Russian border and the cities of Kramatorsk and Slovyansk, which have served as key Ukrainian military regional headquarters and resupply centers, and if Bakhmut were to fall to Russian forces, the two strongholds to the west would become more vulnerable to Russian attack.

But Bakhmut’s major importance in both Ukraine’s war against Russian aggression and Russia’s war to take over Ukraine is symbolic. What it amounts to is this: The Russian military – read: Vladimir Putin – decided about six to eight months ago that it was important to take Bakhmut, and they’ve been at it ever since. Bakhmut was one of the towns taken back from Russian forces by Ukraine when its army executed its big offensive last September that took about 3,500 square miles of the Kharkiv region in northeastern Ukraine that Russia had held since the beginning of the war in February/March of 2022.

The Ukrainians decided at the same time it was important for them to hang onto the town. There has been a bloody war going on for this small piece of the Ukrainian steppes ever since.

It has become clear to military analysts that Ukraine’s decision about Bakhmut was smarter than Russia’s, because Ukraine has managed to inflict about 100,000 casualties on Russian forces since the battle began – in fact, there are some estimates that Russia has lost that many troops since January of this year.

The battle lines in the war have been static along a 600-mile front since Ukraine took Kherson in November. There have been skirmishes and small battles all along the front for about eight months, but neither side has been able to strike forcefully enough to move the other from its defensive positions. Russia has dug defensive trenches everywhere. Satellite photos of the area to the east of Kherson show an elaborate network of Russian trenches defending its land bridge to Crimea and the cities to the east of Kherson, Melitopol and the port of Mariupol.

Russia spent the winter digging similar trench networks to defend the land it has taken in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. In fact, the Russian strategy at this point, if it can be called one, is to defend the strip of eastern Ukraine it took last year and spend the rest of its time killing Ukrainian civilians in the major cities in Ukraine’s center and west, including Kyiv, Odessa and less often Lviv, near the border with Poland.

Some invasion, huh? It’s been established that Putin was under the misinformed delusion that he could use an invading force of about 140,000 and take Kyiv within a week, establish a puppet government and essentially turn Ukraine into a piece of Russia that would be rich with mineral and agricultural wealth, not to mention the fact that if the invasion had succeeded, he would have been able to station his military forces, including his army, air force, and navy, right on Europe’s doorstep.

Didn’t work. By some estimates, Russia has lost as many as 200,000 soldiers, either wounded or killed, since the war began. The interesting thing about those figures is this: when a Russian soldier is wounded, he’s off the battlefield for good, because Russia does not have the kind of military field hospitals and medical technology to patch people up and put them back in the fight.

So, there they are, stuck in relatively tiny Bakhmut, fighting because Putin told them to stay there and fight until they take the town. Somebody in the Ukrainian military is very, very smart, because the decision to defend Bakhmut has turned out to be brilliant. Ukrainian soldiers are fighting for a town that is theirs. They know the town and the surrounding region much, much better than the Russian soldiers sent there to fight. So, they’ve been sitting back for the last six months and picking when and where they will hit Russian units, be they squads, platoons, or companies. They have used drones they are producing themselves to target individual Russian soldiers or small groups of them, and then they have taken U.S. supplied 155 mm howitzers and HIMARS short-range missiles and hammered them to great effect.

There are estimates that the kill-ratio in the battle of Bakhmut has been 7 to 1, seven Russians killed for every Ukrainian. It could even be better than that, but even at those numbers, Russia has been spending a whole lot of soldiers in order to take a few blocks of Bakhmut here, a few blocks there, and by any realistic military measurement, they haven’t accomplished a thing.

Recently, there have been reports that Ukrainian forces have re-taken land to the north and south of Bakhmut and have pushed Russian forces out of some of the central areas of the town. This is very difficult to read from here in Milford, Pennsylvania, but any news of Ukrainian movement is good news. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has reported that Russian forces have pulled back from positions they had held both within the town of Bakhmut and to its south and north.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian billionaire who runs his own private army called the Wagner Group, recently made a video on YouTube complaining that regular Russian forces consisting of new recruits were retreating and leaving his Wagner Group units to fight for Bakhmut alone. Prigozhin stood next to a pile of bodies of Wagner Group soldiers and excoriated Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and General Valery Gerasimov, appointed a few months ago by Putin to run his war in Ukraine.

Complaining that his Wagner soldiers don’t have enough supplies of ammunition, Prigozhin, referring to Putin’s top military officials, shouted, “You animals are hanging out in expensive clubs. Your children are enjoying their lives, making videos for YouTube. Do you think that you are the masters of this life and that you have the right to control their lives?” Pointing to the bodies of dead soldiers, he ranted, “Here are the guys from PMC Wagner who died today. The blood is still fresh. We have a 70 percent ammo shortage! Shoigu! Gerasimov!"

Analysts are reading these explosions by Prigozhin in several ways. Putin may have commanded his friend Prigozhin to “take Bakhmut” for him months ago, and now that it is becoming evident that the Wagner Group has not only failed, but lost a good percentage of its fighters, Putin is abandoning him and positioning himself to blame an eventual loss of the battle of Bakhmut on Prigozhin. This may be because Putin sees Prigozhin as a political rival at this point, Prigozhin having turned his Wagner Group into what amounts to an armed political party.

Or the situation in Bakhmut could in fact be so desperate that there simply isn’t enough ammunition and regular Russian army forces to back up the Wagner Group. Prigozhin has accused regular Russian forces of “fleeing” the battle for Bakhmut, and this indeed may be the case. Russia has rushed fresh recruits into the battle in recent months, where they have been chewed up by Ukraine’s precision artillery and rocket strikes. The Wagner Group forces have been caught in the middle.

And there is the Ukrainian perspective. Ukraine has not made a secret of the fact that they are preparing for the long-anticipated spring offensive. Ukraine may have kept the battle for Bakhmut going this long by fighting for every inch of the town in order to force Russia not only to spend so many Russian bodies in the fight, but to center its defenses in advance of the Ukrainian offensive around Bakhmut, while the main Ukrainian push may end up being elsewhere. There is a report by ISW that over the last few days Ukraine hit Russian resupply and logistics targets around the city of Luhansk with British-supplied Storm Shadow cruise missiles. It’s only about 60 miles from Bakhmut to Luhansk. Ukraine may be softening up the area directly to the east of Bakhmut because they are planning a massive strike directly through Bakhmut…

Or it may be a feint, attempting to cause Russia to move in more forces to defend east of Bakhmut, while Ukraine has plans to make its big offensive push as far away as Kherson. Nobody knows…or at least, only President Zelensky and his top military commanders know.

But that’s the nature of war. The famous phrase “the fog of war” came into being for a reason. War is a fog. That some of the fog is comprised of the mist of blood and bone left by exploded bodies is as tragic as it is real in a war. We will know more when the fog clears, but as of now, we don’t know when that will be.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

Yevgheny Prigozhin

Is The Battle For Bakhmut A Turning Point In Ukraine War?

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Some battles are as much about symbols as they are about tactics or strategy. Bakhmut has shaped up to be such a battle for both sides in the war in Ukraine. For which side the battle is more important is evolving on an almost daily basis, but in the last few days, it’s looking like the battle is way more important to Russia than it is to Ukraine. One indication of how essential the battle for Bakhmut is for Russia can be found in the number of troops they have expended there.

On Sunday, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that Russia had lost 1,100 dead and “many more” injured over the last few days. The BBC reported that Russia had claimed killing 220 Ukrainian soldiers over the same period. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported yesterday that casualty figures gathered from multiple sources, including Ukraine and Britain’s Ministry of Defense, indicate Russia is suffering seven times more casualties in Bakhmut than Ukraine, a loss-ratio that would appear to be unsustainable for Putin’s army.

Incredibly, the battle for control of Bakhmut, a small mining town in Eastern Ukraine, has been going on since last August. During the same time, multiple battles that don’t have names have been happening along much of the 600-mile battlefront in Eastern and Southern Ukraine. In September, Ukraine launched an offensive that pushed Russian forces out of 3,000 square miles of the Kharkiv region, taking back the key cities of Izyum and Lyman, north of Bakhmut. In November in the south, Ukraine re-took the port city of Kherson, establishing a new front line on the east side of the Dnipro River.

The battle for Bakhmut stabilized after the September Ukrainian offensive, with both sides shelling the other with artillery. Things remained that way until late November, when a Russia offensive began taking small villages on the south side of Bakhmut. In December, the battle moved to the eastern edge of Bakhmut itself, and by January, there was fighting in the suburbs east of the city, with neither side gaining much ground. By late February, Russian forces had moved into the eastern suburbs and had effectively encircled Bakhmut on three sides, from the south, east, and north.

That’s where things stood until last week, when the Wagner Group’s owner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, announced that his troops had crossed the Bakhmuta River that runs through the eastern side of the town. Everything east of the river is pretty much single-home suburban. The city proper, with hotels, restaurants, hospitals and the like – now mostly destroyed – is on the west side of the river.

The ISW issued a long report yesterday saying that fighting had stalemated again on Saturday and Sunday, but here’s where it gets interesting. The fight for Bakhmut moved largely to Moscow, where it became a symbol for Priggozhin’s challenge to Putin. Recall that Prigozhin posed in Bakhmut a couple of weeks ago with the bodies of Wagner soldiers and accused the Russian Ministry of Defense (MOD) with denying his soldiers the ammunition and other supplies they needed.

On March 11, Prigozhin announced, in the words of the ISW report, that he would “transform the Wagner Group into a hardline ideological elite parallel military organization after the Battle of Bakhmut.” He began a new round of recruiting and established recruitment centers for his private army in six towns in central Russia.

Putin had already been making moves to counter Prigozhin. He demoted a general who was described as “friendly with the Wagner Group,” and replaced him with a man called Prigohzin’s “nemesis.” In January, he banned Prigozhin from recruiting in Russia’s prison system. To signal whose side he’s on, Putin made several high-profile appearances with General Valery Gerazimov, whom he had put in charge of the military in Ukraine, and his defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, whom he had authorized to have high-level phone calls with his counterparts from France, Turkey, Britain, and the U.S. Neither man is friendly with Prigozhin.

The ISW described Putin as “a risk-averse and highly calculating actor who likely sought to manage the emerging threat to his control by gradually reintroducing the Russian MOD into prominence and power. Putin relies on a group of scapegoats to publicly take risks in his place and shoulder the blame for Russian military failures and unpopular policies.” Which is likely why he fired General Sergei Surovikin, whom he had put in charge in Ukraine only three months previously. He also fired Colonel General Mikhail Teplinsky, who had led the withdrawal from Kherson in November. In February, Major General Vladimir Makarov, former deputy head of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation for Combating Extremism, committed suicide after being fired by Putin in January.

Now, according to the ISW, Prigozhin is being set up to take the fall for losing Bakhmut. “Putin will likely use Wagner’s high casualties, reports about poor morale, and war crimes to deflect from likely equal or possibly worse problems within the Russian Armed Forces,” ISW reported yesterday. ISW accused Putin in its report of “setting conditions in the Russian information space to discredit Wagner.” Prigozhin holds no official position within the Russian military or the Russian government, and is vulnerable to being jettisoned at any moment, which probably explains his recent announcements about transforming the Wagner Group into what amounts to an an armed political party in opposition to Putin.

None of the moves being made by either Putin or Prigozhin are those of someone who is winning a war. Ukraine is fighting for Bakhmut because it is a Ukrainian town. It is located on Ukrainian soil. It belongs to Ukraine. Tactically, if Bakhmut falls, Ukraine would lose the roads connecting it to the cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, key points Ukraine uses to resupply its forces on the front lines in the Donetsk Region.

It's hard to put into words how grim the conditions are right now in Bakhmut. They are probably slightly better for Ukrainian soldiers than for Russians because the Ukrainians have the support of what’s left of the citizenry, and they can fight more effectively house-to-house, which is the kind of warfare the battle has devolved into. If Ukraine can hold onto Bakhmut and drive Russian forces out of the city, it will be an enormous symbolic and strategic victory. They will have prevailed over a much larger army, and they will have severely damaged Russia’s ability to launch an offensive in the spring because they have suffered such severe losses in Bakhmut.

On the other hand, if Russia prevails, they will have taken a small city previously occupied by just 70,000 people and completely destroyed the city in the process. Taking Bakhmut will create a Russian “bulge” in the front lines which Ukraine will be able to attack from three sides, causing Russia to expend even more soldiers to defend the ground it has taken. Russia has already lost thousands of soldiers trying to take the city and will have to move thousands more into place to defend it, probably leaving areas to the south and north along the front lines vulnerable to a new Ukrainian offensive. At the same time, Russia’s lines in the south around Kherson will be vulnerable to an expected Ukrainian offensive. In both the northeast and the south, Ukrainian forces will by then have been supplied with German Leopard II tanks from Poland and more armored personnel carriers from the U.S., France, and Britain.

In previous columns, I have discussed how ineffective Russian artillery has been, “killing” entire fields of recently-planted crops in Eastern Ukraine. The same is not true of Ukrainian artillery. The U.S. is helping Ukraine aim its HIMARS missiles, and if we can do that, we can help them aim artillery fire using the same satellite targeting technology.

This is not to say that things are going swimmingly for Ukraine at the moment in Bakhmut, but they are at least holding their own within the town and obviously killing far more Russians than Ukraine is losing.

It means nothing but trouble when a battle for a small city causes the kind of political disruption that Putin is now facing in Moscow because of his inability over a period of almost eight months to take a city as small as Bakhmut. When general officers are being fired after only a few months in command, and when other generals are committing suicide, it sends a message. That suicidal general knew something bad was going to happen to him, so he checked out. If he knew it, other Russian generals do, too.

It's never a good sign when thousands of soldiers are losing their lives to enemy fire over a period of a few days, and a general is committing suicide alone in a Dacha outside of Moscow. As a symbol, Bakhmut is trending in Ukraine’s favor right now.

Watch this space.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.