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County Leadership Series Brings Top Naval Intelligence Expert to Convo With CE Neuhaus (Update with Videos)

Lieutenant Commanders Neuhaus and Serchuck on Ukraine

Orange County residents were given a rare opportunity on Friday night at the Orange County Emergency Services Auditorium, to get an inside view from two dedicated Navy representatives, Lt. Commander Steve Neuhaus and guest, Lt. Commander Vance Serchuk of the Navy Reserve Intelligence Corp, a respected National Security expert, discussing some of the most important issues of our time, including a thorough explanation of the Ukraine situation, how it affects the United States, and how he expects Vladimir Putin to respond to alternative ways the situation could resolve, or not. He is currently assigned to the US Navy Pacific Fleet.

The two Lieutnant. Commanders discuss a map showig Ukraine losses and take-backs since 2022

By Edie Johnson

(Editorial Note: Please be patient this story is graphics intensive and some images may be a little slow to load).

After growing up as a local kid in Hudson Valley, Vance Serchuk had a mind to go to Russia and study its history, language and culture. Then he not only became an expert in just about all things Russia, he joined the service and eventually became one of the Navy's top Intelligence Officers. Returning home from Russia, he's on a brief break after attending this month's International Conference in Munich. And boy did he ever have stories to tell, including a history of the young man who was instrumental in establishing the first Munich Conference, and who had been assigned to go on a suicide mission to kill Adolf Hitler. Serchuk said he had the chance to hear how it all went down while that young man was still alive. More recently he said he worked with General David Petreus on National Security and with Senator Joe Lieberman on International Communications programs.

CE Neuhaus is not a stranger to the operations in Ukraine either, having brought many tons of supplies there at the beginning of the war, and the two have become longtime friends, Neuhaus saying "I see you are emotional about this." His guest agreed, pointing out that while this war continues, Russia has ramped up to a war economy, but social programs suffer from it. Meanwhile Iran and North Korea are chipping in on drones for Russia from Iran. This kind of scenario is not new for Russia, he said, " Russia has dealt with conflict by suffering over centuries. They outsuffered both Chechnya and Syria leaving inhumane devastation behind. It has become built in that they are willing to suffer countless losses of life " (in this instance nearly a half million). But, he added, "It usually results in the end with some kind of upheaval at home. They have had losses too. The Russian Army collapsed after WWII, and then there was the Cuban Missile Crisis." He added that in this instance it is not insignificant that US Intelligence was predicting this was going to happen for months and months, while Russia not only insisted they were not going to invade, but still even in recent months have claimed that much of the media pictures, film and reports are "Fake News".

This is the scene in a number of Ukraine cities where missles hit apartment buildings and hospitals. A larger copy of this image shows a few dozen apartments to the right that are boarded up, apparently with residents still live in them.

There have been many Russian losses in this conflict, but he said that "Putin is not suicidal. You don't see him attacking any neighboring NATO countries." On the other hand, they are willing to bring in yet more untrained military and suffer the losses while they wear Ukraine down. He emphasized that there is no doubt that in spite of the bravery of the Ukraine army and civilians they desperately need aid from the US and he wonders how long Ukraine can persist against the vast resources of Russia, which is the largest country in the world. "Imagine", he said, "in the US we have 3 time zones. In Russia there are eleven."

But the United States has just put 500 new sanctions against Russia, and many of the sanctions are related to military supplies and will help deplete their land and sky war supplies. In addition, the sequestered funds that have been taken from Russia may be given to Ukraine to replace supplies and rebuild, thus avoiding at least some of the legislative debate over US funding. He also pointed out that there are millions who have left Russia because of the strife. Most of them are talented people; doctors, lawyers, and a whole new "Silicon Valley" of Russian geeks that have moved to Tel Aviv. These are people that a civilization with a future needs.

Vance Serchuk says he is staying hopeful. He brings his parade uniform wherever he goes. But he also brings photographs of the devastation across Ukraine. People have not only lost friends and family. They have lost cherished family pets that they mourn as well. Many died simply from the stress of constant shelling. Entire communities are demolished, but Ukraine is a very large country, and vast parts of it are continuing relatively normal day-to-day activities.

Children are studying in a makeshift classroom in an underground subway where there is relative safety for them

A busy day in one of Ukraine's beautiful cities

For Putin, he says, it's about Post WWII jealousy of America, which much of the world hailed as heroes and leaders. There were centuries when Russia ruled a lot of the world and he wants that status back.

But, Serchuk repeated, "Putin is not suicidal. He makes threats of sending space missiles into orbit with nuclear power. But there are also many of his people who think and complain that this coflict has weakened Russia. and that it's time to recalibrate'

Steve Neuhaus and Vance Serchuk ask the question of the year! What would or should the US do if an ally like Taiwan is attacked. Is there an appetite to send our children and grandchildren to die. Or does someone have the leadership skills to negotiate around these crises?

What should the US do? He said that if Putin wins in Ukraine he will definiely not stop, "Lenin had a saying, If you hit steel then stop. If you hit mush, push." Meanwhile we must not rest on our laurels as we did in most of the years since WWII, by being overoptimistic, thinking that even if it was slowly Russia was moving toward democracy. We must keep on the cutting edge of equipment as well as maintain adequate supplies and stay sufficiently alert to military options, emphasizing that "Hard Power really matters." He pointed to how well Ukraine has done on its own, awesome job in some areas of military equipment development, particularly with drones and that they are very capabe of making their own, and using them successfully in strikes.

He added that governmental studies are important as well. People across lines, whether it be a country or municipality must converse over time and develop mutual goals. He said that in America we have a tendency to keep looking at both sides of an issue, "In Europe, not so much." We watched Russia invade Estonia, and Georgia, yet we did nothing out of a sense of complacency, and we must not let that happen again. Strife like this, he said, is profoundly complex, and it is our challenge to distill it into the parts of the process of war and peace."

He finished with,

"We can figure it out. It will take incredible leadership.


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