Breaking group think- the real recommendations from Ukraine


With one year of war approaching, Nico Lange, former Chief of Executive Staff at the German Federal Ministry of Defence, and Senior Advisor to GLOBSEC, presented the findings of his research report on the major lessons learned from Ukraine’s homeland defense and its implications for NATO.

The briefing, moderated by GLOBSEC Vice President for Policy and Programming Alena Kudzko, was an invaluable opportunity to expand on the reports findings which outline a blueprint for what the future of war resembles, and the steps needed for NATO to adapt to keep its competitive edge. A frank question and answer session ensued that took a critical look at the current state of NATO capabilities and its decision-making process.

Despite the consensus among a chorus of experts stating that the current war is a contemporary iteration of World War I, the author’s fieldwork and analysis proved otherwise. The briefing also controversially suggested that Ukraine can not only defend itself, but with the right resources and strategy it can beat Russia. Among the main takeaways when consolidated, the report advocates for a comprehensive strategic culture change across the military Alliance.

Notable Takeaways

  • Speed and precision when deployed effectively has the potential to beat mass on the battlefield. Ukraine is shattering traditional battle norms in its use of data driven strategy that is lethally blending the use of old and new tech properties with great success.  With this formula, Ukraine has the strongest artillery profile in the world.
  • Strategic Communications (STRATCOM) is an integral part of the current war that is represented, and backed, by resources at the highest levels of the Ukrainian government. In opposition throughout the West, STRATCOM is treated with some deference and suffering from a dearth of financial and political resources.
  • The current logistical success on display in Ukraine, is due in large part to the existing infrastructure redundancies throughout the country, a by-product of the Soviet Union era. This layout has enabled civilians to move at will, and therefore created space for military logistics. The same logistical resilience is not currently applicable throughout NATO and EU countries, where a variety of bureaucratic obstacles still remain. Resolving this issue should be treated with the utmost priority akin to the acquisition of new weapon systems.
  • NATO and the EU continue to be dangerously reliant on foreign technological commercial dependency that represents an existential vulnerability that shows no immediate signs of being resolved. Likewise, there is a lack of commercial structures available to be deployed in times of crisis, like the Starlink low orbit satellite constellation system, that could serve as a crucial strategic enabler.
  • A comprehensive audit of the skillset of NATO military reservists is a critical exercise long overdue that should be mapped and categorized in order to activate their diverse profiles in times of need.
  • Distributing knowledge, notably when it comes to the utilization of drones, throughout the various branches of the armed forces is crucial exercise that NATO and EU countries have yet to accept. Drones are now, and will continue to play, a decisive role throughout military and reconnaissance operations. Therefore, integrating them into daily routines of the military is paramount and necessary.
  • Total defense is a necessary requirement of the near future where both collective and bespoke individual training throughout society is a must. For example, ensuring new qualifications, such as strategic policy planning and crisis response management, to hold certain public offices, like mayors of major cities, should be seriously considered.
  • Loosening the hierarchy and rigid decision-making process among NATO ally militaries is a question of reforming training curriculum and accepting the empowerment of lower ranked personnel and simultaneously elevating the role of Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs).
  • Failure to improve and open up existing procurement processes to new market players and disruptive firms runs the risk of falling behind and complacent policy. Recent experiences have confirmed that accepting this feature yields both advantages in the soft and hard security realm.

Briefing rapporteurs: Catherine Girard & Roger Hilton