‘Whatever works’ is what the world’s military wants to purchase. But what is working in the current Ukrainian crisis? This lateral thinking look at the source of Ukrainian strength could suggest the next revolution in Defence spending.
Given what is happening on the ground in Europe, defence spending will certainly be on the rise for the next few years. Whether your country is on the European front lines, has an ironclad obligation to defend them, or is concerned about threats from a resurgent China seeking to take advantage of the world’s focus on Europe, that old military-industrial complex is smiling as it looks forward to a new infusion of funds.
Even those who may have been a bit put off by service budget wars, and the dog that is military funding wagging the preparedness tail, will be relieved at the virtuous circle currently taking place. As nations ship their legacy equipment to Ukraine, they are using the opportunity to acquire new kit. European defence spending, once at the bottom of every European nation’s list and subject to endless US nagging to be increased, is on the rise.
My proposal for the next big thing in defence spending: Ukrainian food. Obviously, these guys are eating something that is giving them super-human abilities and fighting spirit and the militaries of the world should jump on that bandwagon. That’s right. Varenyky for everybody! Holubtsi in every military chow hall! If we need to eat tons of nalesniki to channel the Ukrainian fighting spirit, then so be it! I can see supply convoys laden with potatoes, onions, cabbage, flour (and bacon bits) fortifying defending forces wherever there is a breach of a border.
An unorthodox conclusion, but what other explanation is there for Ukraine’s unexpected and unprecedented success against the latest Russian invasion? Could it be that the Ukrainians are simply discovering a renewed and better sense of nationhood, are better motivated, and overcame Soviet doctrine to develop more flexible and innovative fighting style? Is it that the unquestioned value of alliances and a shared sense of peril are causing nations to band together to establish a global operational-level fight to funnel resources to fuel the Ukrainian defence? Could it be that the Russians’ apparent disdain for supply chains and logistics, low morale, and willingness to ignore planning fundamentals constituted a massive own goal? Could it be that the difficult to quantify value of being on the side of the angels—“right makes might”—could actually be a force multiplier in war?
Would it be reasonable for us to conclude that a concentration on mastering the basics of both military and civilian leadership and warfare is what is fuelling the Ukrainian fight and a failure to do so (not to mention their penchant for evil) is crippling the Russians?
Nonsense. New kit is great. Apparently, the basics of warfighting matter. But the West’s military spending goals must be clear: it’s got to be about that delicious Ukrainian stodge. We ignore this essential gastronomic enabler at our peril. Fill the parties of the West and its allies with halushki and deruny and watch the inexorable march to victory in all our endeavours. As an American, it now occurs to me that we should have brought that stuff to Iraq and Afghanistan. Would have turned out better, I reckon. Oh well, lessons learned. Next time we’ll pack a better lunch.
Major Garri Benjamin Hendell is a cavalryman and a drilling reservist in the U.S. Army’s Army National Guard. He has served in leadership and staff positions at the platoon, company, battalion, and division levels, as well as having been assigned to a regional joint force headquarters and to the National Guard Bureau (a federal entity which manages the Army National Guard formations within each U.S. State). He has deployed overseas three times to the Middle East as well as participated in training events in Europe. He writes sometimes and does civilian things too.