UKRAINE NEEDS MORE ARTILLERY SUPPORT
Congress Was Right to Defend Ukraine
Please Do More
By Dan Rice
Ever since Russia invaded and occupied the Crimea and Donbas regions in 2014, Ukraine has been on a wartime footing. Three US administrations and bipartisan Congressional support have enabled Ukraine to withstand the onslaught they now face 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 accounts for 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 US troops at risk and our support has immediate impact. In comparison, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost the US over $2 trillion EACH, with 6,000 killed in action, and tens of thousands wounded.
Vladimir Putin has invaded neighbors before without repercussions and said the collapse of the Soviet Union was the tragedy of our times. In 1999, he attacked Chechnya. In 2008, he invaded Georgia. In 2014, he invaded the sovereign nation of Ukraine and took the Crimea and Donbas regions, about 10% of the land of Ukraine. The world’s response was minimal. So, Putin continued his dream of reestablishing the power Russia enjoyed in his KGB youth. In 2021 he installed a puppet government in Belarus and now uses the country as training ground for Russian troops and a jump-off point for his invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian invasion in February 2022 triggered the largest land war since WWII as 150,000 Russian soldiers attacked from 4 directions, destroying cities, and terrorizing the civilian population with torture, rape, murder, and mass graves of innocent civilians. Fear rippled through all of Europe – the Russian army was back. This is a new version of total war, with precision weapons, cyber and electronic warfare, information and special operations, drones, psychological operations and social media pursuing military, economic, political, and cultural objectives.
The time for US leadership is now.
In the defense, smaller Ukrainian units hit attacking Russian armored forces with anti-tank rounds, followed by artillery strikes, while using anti-aircraft weapons to keep the superior Russian air force grounded. They would hit and fall back, trading ground for time. That worked, but Kyiv nearly fell.
Now the war is in very dangerous phase. The terrain in the east and south is flat and open. Battle has devolved into an artillery duel in which the Ukrainians are out-gunned by 10:1. 100 or more brave Ukrainians die every day while desperately defending their land.
The Russians have new generals and will likely attempt new strategies in the coming months. The fighting is in the east and south, where Russia is attempting to create a bridge from the Donbas, to Crimea, to Odessa, on to the entire Black Sea coast and all of its strategic ports. There is concern the Russians will attempt a massive missile attack on Kyiv, potentially chemical or nuclear.
Taking back land requires the Ukrainian military to go on the offensive. Offense 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 Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) to stop the slaughter. The Russians count on imprecise mass artillery to destroy entire cities. The West needs to send immediate heavy artillery and MLRS to Ukraine.
Ukraine desperately needs artillery tubes of the old 122 and 152mm Russian caliber. These are prolific in Eastern Europe and stored in weapons depots across the region. The US has provided both towed (M777) and self-propelled (M109) 155 mm Howitzers. Ukraine needs more of both. They also need vast quantities of artillery rounds to feed all of these guns. In particular Ukraine needs 155 mm Excalibur GPS guided rounds. Ukraine will never beat Russia in quantity, but precision guided munitions can far more effective than area weapons.
Most importantly, Ukraine needs Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS). The US recently approved shipment of four MLRS to Ukraine, and last week Congress approved another undisclosed number as part of the additional $1 billion aid package. This is an important first step but four MLRS systems will not make a major impact on the war.
To give some idea of scale, Poland just announced it will acquire 500 MLRS systems for its own defense. They know that if Ukraine falls to Russian aggression, they could be next. At least 15 countries have fielded MLRS systems: US, UK, 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. The newer versions fire 80 kilometers (GMLRS). If every country sends all their older inventory to Ukraine, it could make the difference in the war. The United States, Great Britain and Germany have agreed to send both rocket launchers (M270 and M142) and rockets. From all available data 10 launchers are enroute to Ukraine.
The civilized world is looking for US leadership in the face of this terrible threat to freedom and democracy. We urge Congress to call on all our allies to immediately ship these lifesaving howitzers, MLRS, and their ammunition to Ukraine.
Dan Rice is a Special Advisor to the Ukrainian Commander in Chief General Valeriy Zaluzhnny. Dan is the President of Thayer Leadership at West Point, a West Point graduate, decorated combat veteran and holds three masters degrees and recently completed his doctoral classes in Leadership at University of Pennsylvania.
This material is distributed by Daniel Rice on behalf of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Additional information is available at the U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC. Daniel Rice receives no compensation nor reimbursement from Ukraine and is advocating for Ukraine for philanthropic purposes.