Twitter Space: Power Moves in Ukraine and Beyond
Live from Frankfurt, Ltc Gen (Rtd) Ben Hodges, the former Commanding General of US Army Europe and Chairman of GLOBSEC’s Future Security and Defence Council (FSDC) speaks with Roger Hilton to explain the necessity of Ukraine wining and Russia losing this war, Ukraine’s creeping offensive, breaking Crimea’s fortification, the new F-16 coalition, repairing Patriots in a war zone, and teasing the FSDC’s Eastern Flank report. Listen to the episode below.
What are the key points discussed in the episode?
Ukraine will win, Russia will lose:
- The test of will in the conflict favors Ukraine due to the determination of Ukrainians, and the support received from various nations, such as Germany. In comparison, Russia faces challenges in maintaining a cohesive command structure and unified purpose, continual infighting (Wagner Chief Prigozhin versus Defence Minister Shoigu) while only being able to receive military support from Iran.
The Ukrainian offensive: what kind will it be?
- Throughout the conflict, the Ukrainian general staff has shown impressive operational art and discipline and have emphasized the importance of careful planning and information protection.
Three conditions needed for General Zaluzhny to start an offensive are:
- The readiness of Ukrainian forces. Considering the extensive study of the terrain and Russian defenses, Ukrainian forces need to be able to penetrate multiple lines of Russian linear defenses, particularly in Crimea, without having to attack the entire front. In doing so, combat power needs to be sufficient in order to concentrate on a narrow front with tanks, artillery, and land troops.
- The state of Russian forces. Shaping operations have been conducted with the intention of degrading Russian defensive capabilities. By utilizing deception, the Ukrainian general staff can continue to lead and deceive the Russians about the location and timing of the offensive.
- Ground conditions. Ukrainian forces must consider the grounds’ conditions to support heavy armour, and its ability to sustain heavy armored vehicles.
Can Ukraine puncture Russian fortified lines?
- Though the task will not be easy, Ukraine has the potential to puncture Russian fortified lines. Satellite photos and videos reveal that Russian trenches lack overhead cover, making them susceptible to artillery and rocket fire. Consequently, there are ample opportunities to achieve an offensive success.
Responding to Russian HIMARS threats:
- While the need for reliable protection against jamming and spoofing of GPS signals is unquestioned, there is no single system which can provide protection against everything. Despite this, Ukrainian forces are actively seeking ways to circumvent and reduce the effectiveness of Russian countermeasures. In this regard, having long-range precision weapons is crucial for Ukraine in defeating Russia.
Repairing Patriot missile systems during combat:
- Though international mechanics have been sharing their expertise and guidance through virtual communication platforms, such as Zoom, to assist Ukrainian officers in conducting repairs and maintenance, ideally, contract maintenance could be conducted on-site to expedite repairs; and, if necessary, the US can also evacuate launchers to nearby countries. Thus, by establishing maintenance hubs throughout Ukraine, Patriot systems can be more efficiently maintained along with other critical weapons and vehicles.
- Ensuring fix-forward repairs stations is essential to limit the amount of time any military system if offline.
US administration and the Future of Drones:
- While the US administration has provided leadership in supporting Ukraine, it has not clearly stated its desired strategic outcome. A clear stance is needed which shows that the US wants Ukraine to win. Doing so will help eliminate ambiguity and reduce incremental decision making.
- Additionally, the overreaction by the US administration to Russia's nuclear threat has been a form “self-deterrence,” which has hindered decisive action and can set a risky precedent for other countries.
- The integration of drones into military operations is important as they will play a significant role in the future of warfare. In this regard, NATO should consider establishing a drone center of excellence in Romania to promote collaboration, research, and development in this field.