For example, we have General Semyon Budyonny, who made a name for himself as an excellent soldier during the Communist Revolution of 1917, was made a cavalry leader by Joseph Stalin, and eventually had a hat named after him. This apparently went to his head, because he promptly decided that the horse was the pinnacle of human technology and would never be surpassed. While the Germans, Italians, and British were revolutionizing their armies with tanks and aircraft, Budyonny believed so strongly in the military might of horses that he briefly convinced Stalin to abolish the entire tank corps. But when Budyonny finally got a chance to face down the gigantic metal armored death guns he so arrogantly dismissed, they quickly surrounded and captured or killed all of his 665,000 men, giving Hitler his greatest military victory ever.
But Budyonny was hardly the only high-ranking Russian commander who took his equestrianism way too seriously: His colleague General Grigory Kulik was constantly claiming that anything he didn't understand (which included most things) was sabotage and decided that the best way to prepare for engaging Hitler's forces during Operation Barbarossa was to halt the production of tanks and anti-tank rockets (which he hated because they didn't sound cool when he fired them) so he could engage the state-of-the-art German war machine with World War I-era horse-drawn artillery.
via Ukraine SSR
Anyone with this mustache was probably the wrong choice to oppose Hitler.
That would've been bad enough even if Kulik hadn't been a drunken lunatic known for screaming "prison or medal" at his subordinates (those being the two possible rewards for their efforts to obey him). Ultimately, Kulik's strategy of waving his cane and demanding that the tanks get off his lawn failed to pay off: His ineptitude allowed Leningrad to be surrounded, kicking off one of the bloodiest sieges in history. All because -- if we're being totally honest -- the guy was probably f*****g his horse.
With those kinds of leaders calling the shot, it's arguably even more incredible that Russian soldiers basically won the war for everyone else.
For more military brilliance, please pre-order Jacopo's upcoming book THE GREAT ABRAHAM LINCOLN POCKET WATCH CONSPIRACY!
Always on the go but can't get enough of Cracked? We have an Android app and iOS reader for you to pick from so you never miss another article.
Related Reading: Insects could out-general all of these guys. And in fact, bees can carry out more complex sieges than most human armies. Sometimes uniform designers fail even harder than these generals, check out the Italian Carabinieri. Not had enough armed incompetence? Read about these disastrous military computer glitches.