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UKRAINE NEEDS MORE ARTILLERY SUPPORT: Congress was right to defend Ukraine – Please do more


Congress was right to defend Ukraine
please do more

By Dan Rice

Since Russia invaded and occupied the Crimea and Donbass regions in 2014, Ukraine has been on a war footing. Three U.S. administrations and bipartisan congressional support have enabled Ukraine to weather the onslaught it now faces by air, land and sea.

Over the past 8 years, US Army Green Berets and National Guard soldiers have trained over 26,000 of our Ukrainian allies. This support represents just $2 billion of our $778 billion defense budget for 2022 and provides the best return on any allied support we have ever given. There are no American troops in danger and our support has an immediate impact. By comparison, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost the United States more than $2 trillion each, with 6,000 killed in action and tens of thousands injured.

Vladimir Putin has already invaded neighbors without repercussions and declared the collapse of the Soviet Union to be the tragedy of our time. In 1999 he attacked Chechnya. In 2008, he invaded Georgia. In 2014, it invaded the sovereign nation of Ukraine and took over the Crimea and Donbass regions, about 10% of Ukraine’s territory. The response from the world has been minimal. Thus, Putin pursued his dream of restoring the power that Russia enjoyed in his youth in the KGB. In 2021 he installed a puppet government in Belarus and now uses the country as a training ground for Russian troops and as a staging point for his invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian invasion in February 2022 sparked the largest ground war since World War II as 150,000 Russian troops attacked from 4 directions, destroying cities and terrorizing the civilian population through torture, rape, murder and beatings. mass graves of innocent civilians. Fear spread across Europe – the Russian army was back. It is a new version of total warfare, with precision weapons, cyber and electronic warfare, information and special operations, drones, psychological operations and social media pursuing military, economic, political and cultural.

The time has come for American leadership.

In defense, smaller Ukrainian units hit the attacking Russian armored forces with anti-tank shells, followed by artillery strikes, while using anti-aircraft weapons to keep the superior Russian air force on the ground. They would strike and fall back, trading time for time. It worked, but Kyiv nearly fell.

Now the war is in a very dangerous phase. The terrain to the east and south is flat and open. The battle turned into an artillery duel in which the Ukrainians were overtaken by 10:1. At least 100 brave Ukrainians die every day desperately defending their land.

The Russians have new generals and will likely try new strategies in the coming months. The fighting is taking place in the east and south, where Russia is trying to create a bridge from Donbass to Crimea, Odessa, the entire Black Sea coast and all its strategic ports. There are fears that the Russians are attempting a massive missile attack on Kyiv, potentially chemical or nuclear.

To regain land, the Ukrainian army must go on the offensive. Attack requires different weapons than defense. Ukraine still needs javelins to defeat tanks and Stinger anti-aircraft weapons, but more importantly Ukraine needs heavy artillery with GPS-guided shells and multiple rocket launch systems (MLRS ) to stop the slaughter. The Russians rely on inaccurate mass artillery to destroy entire cities. The West must immediately send heavy artillery and MLRS to Ukraine.

Ukraine desperately needs artillery tubes of the old Russian caliber 122 and 152 mm. These are prolific in Eastern Europe and stored in arms depots across the region. The United States supplied 155 mm towed (M777) and self-propelled (M109) howitzers. Ukraine needs more of both. They also need large amounts of artillery rounds to power all those guns. In particular, Ukraine requires Excalibur 155mm GPS-guided munitions. Ukraine will never beat Russia in quantity, but precision-guided munitions can be much more effective than area weapons.

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More importantly, Ukraine needs Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS). The United States recently approved sending four MLRS to Ukraine, and last week Congress approved another undisclosed number under the billion-dollar supplemental aid package. This is an important first step, but four MLRS systems will not have a major impact on the war.

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To give an idea of ​​the scale, Poland has just announced that it will acquire 500 MLRS systems for its own defence. They know that if Ukraine falls under Russian aggression, they could be next. At least 15 countries have fielded MLRS systems: United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Bahrain, Egypt, Finland, France, Greece, Israel, Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Lithuania. Each of these countries should send rocket launchers and rockets to Ukraine. Most have both current and older versions of the rockets. The original rockets (M26 version) fired 32 kilometers. New versions shoot at 80 kilometers (GMLRS). If each country sends all its old inventory to Ukraine, it could make the difference in the war. The United States, Great Britain and Germany agreed to send both rocket launchers (M270 and M142) and rockets. From all available data, 10 launchers are on their way to Ukraine.

The civilized world seeks American leadership in the face of this terrible threat to freedom and democracy. We urge Congress to call on all of our allies to immediately ship these life-saving howitzers, MLRS, and their ammunition to Ukraine.

Dan Rice is special adviser to the Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief, General Valeriy Zaluzhnny. Dan is the president of Thayer Leadership at West Point, a West Point graduate, decorated veteran, and has three master’s degrees and recently completed his doctoral courses in leadership at the University of Pennsylvania.