PENTAGON: What would World War III look like? Ask a Ukrainian.
In their war against Russia, Ukrainian troops have endured artillery bombardments like nothing Americans have seen since World War II. Russian electronic attacks against radio communications are like nothing the US has seen — ever. So even as Washington debates further training — and perhaps arming — the Ukrainians, the top Army commander in Europe said today, they have important lessons to teach us. Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges was too polite to say it out loud, but Ukraine is teaching us what it takes to fight the Russians — or anyone else well-armed — in a large-scale ground war.
“All of these guys are veterans,” said Hodges, speaking of the Ukrainian National Guard troops now being trained by the American 173rd Airborne Brigade. “In fact,” Hodges told reporters here today, “I was talking to [US] noncommissioned officers who’ve been with the Ukrainians, and they were like, ‘wow, these guys, they’ve done stuff we’ve never seen, [never] been exposed to that level of violence.’ So we’ve actually learned a lot from them.”
What we’re learning about is the nature of the next war. Russia’s implausibly deniable operations in Ukraine — where it insists only a few good-hearted volunteers are helping local separatists against Kiev — are often cited as a case of “hybrid war,” blending conventional and guerrilla strategies. Russia certainly has used irregular warfare, arming local proxies and sending special forces without insignia, the “Little Green Men,” to seize Crimea. But equally important to the mix are high-intensity tactics like massed artillery, jamming, and tanks, which US forces haven’t had to face for years.