Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may portend profound changes in how war is fought. The western military may learn from Ukraine’s astonishing victory against Russia’s armor. Is it time to write the tank’s obituary? Will they be twenty-first-century battleships, made obsolete by new technology and tactics? Close air support as a concept is also under threat.
We see Russian assault helicopters worth $18 million being destroyed by $100,000 stingers. And that is before the full might of modern swarm drone technologies is unleashed. The lesson here is to avoid abandoning crewed aircraft that provides close air support on the battlefield. However, the Ukrainian conflict reminds us that we should invest more in research and development to advance unmanned air systems. NATO’s commander in Afghanistan says he never envisaged himself in charge of 150,000 soldiers.
Ukraine’s experience demonstrates that belligerents may wreak havoc on command and control systems anchored by solid senior commanders. He asserts that we must recognize that our adversaries will use heinous measures that constitute war crimes. We must do a better job of preparing for these new warfare realities.