I posted this in the Ukraine war thread, but its not really about the war. It’s about choices. The ones we’ve made, the ones we will make, and the results of those choices in relation to whether or not we support a future for Ukraine.
So what is the future of Ukraine?
Right now its an open question. Russia still could take everything east of the Dneiper. It’s unlikely, but possible depending on whether or not the west will support Ukraine at the level Ukraine needs. To date, we seem willing to support just enough to generate a stalemate, which cannot hold and if that’s all we’re going to do Russia will eventually control all of Ukraine east of the Dneiper. Why the powers that be seem incapable of seeing the reality of that eventuality is beyond me. A bit of short term myopic vision I think and a severe lack of strategic thinking. As long as Russia is sitting on Ukrainian land they will not leave it, and as long as they do not leave it Ukraine will continue fighting. There are only two possibilities to end the fighting. The complete capitulation of Ukraine (not going to happen) which will result in decades of a Ukrainian insurgency in Novorussiya, or the defeat of all Russian forces in Ukraine, which will result in peace.
Had this administration realized this and admitted it to itself early on they would have realized there were two options only.
Support Ukraine with all it needs to win. This includes (as I’ve said since the Russian withdrawal from Kiev area), ATACMS, Tanks, fixed wing AC, rotary wing AC, medium and long range AD weapons, and other long range missiles and drones. IOW’s a complete upfit to NATO standard for its BCT’s. It is the only way for Ukraine to win. Without the superior equipment and firepower, numbers will overwhelm Ukraine. They cannot win a war of attrition.
Do nothing, let Russia have Ukraine. Renege on our security guarantees, let the world know our word is meaningless and our power is useless. Let everyone know that cooperating with us on WMD’s has two possible outcomes
As opposed to not cooperating which seems to have one possible outcome
a. N Korea and Iran.
Nuclear blackmail wins. Next meal, the Baltics. Hello WWIII and nuclear holocaust.
If our word was to mean anything, if we ever wanted to deter Russian aggression into the former Soviet republics, if we ever want to have any nation cooperate with us on WMD’s, if we want to keep nuclear weapons from proliferating, if we want the best chance to prevent the unthinkable. Supporting Ukraine was the only option.
So now what? What does Ukraine need to win? Well, according to Ukraine they need to stand up 10-20 BCT’s with NATO standard weaponry. What does that mean? Given US force structure and Ukraine’s situation it means 10 IBCT’s (not a big problem) 6 ABCT’s (Big problem) and 4 MBCT’s (less of a problem). Just looking at combat vehicles that means.
Total ABCT requirement:
108 SP Howitzers
Total MBCT requirement:
72 155mm Howitzers
Total IBCT requirement
180 105mm Howitzers
20 155mm Howitzers
The 10 IBCT’s are not an issue. They can be created now and improvise for vehicles slowly converting to MRAPs and HMMWV’s. They could even over a short time convert 4 of them to AA IBCT’s by adding Rotary wing AC on lend lease. We have just ourselves enough Howitzers and HiMARS to support these along with the other associated systems (counter battery radar systems, medium range AD systems, Supply and logistics vehicles etc.)
The MBCT’s are a bit more of a challenge. We use Strykers. We have deactivated 1 SBCT, so from that we should have around 300 minimum. I would guess closer to 500, but we’ll use 300. Thats one BCT, they will need 900 more wheeled IFV’s. NATO does have them. The cahallenge will be logistics and maintenance of a diverse bunch of vehicles all with different support chains. Not impossible to overcome, but also not easy. Again, the Howitzers and HiMARS are not an issue.
Everyone is talking about Leopards. Big problem, there are not as far as I know 540 Leopards in storage. At best they could put together 1 ABCT with Leopards (87). IFV’s are not an issue, we have 3700 Bradley’s in storage. We don’t even need the rest of NATO to support this. In fact, given the only viable option for the MBT’s in the first place is the 3700 Abrams that are also in storage, we don’t need the Leopards either, except as possibly a stop gap to at least get one ABCT up and running while we train and get the depot level maintenance in place in Poland to support a move to Abrams. Poland has Abrams, and they have the support required. But there needs to be more of it, and closer to Ukraine. Training the crews would not be a real issue, training maintenance is. If however we are to support Ukraine, it must be done.
We should have started this a long time ago (like back in March when I said so). If we do not start now, then whatever we do will be too little, too late. It may already be.