Small Wars Journal

China/Taiwan Crisis Shows We Need To Arm our Allies

Sun, 08/21/2022 - 10:50pm

China/Taiwan Crisis Shows We Need To Arm our Allies


By Richard Newton and Dan Rice


Provide Ukraine Excess US Air Force F-15s and F-16s...Now


Nuclear armed aggressor nations, such as China and Russia, cannot be allowed to invade neighboring sovereign democracies using conventional forces unchecked.  The best way to deter these aggressor nations, both Russia and China, is to arm the democracies with conventional forces capable of defending themselves or making the cost of invasion too costly for the aggressor nations in total terms. 

We are now arming Ukraine with more and more defensive weapons for its army to defeat Russia: Javelin anti- tank, Stinger anti-aircraft, Switchblade suicide drones, M777 155mm Howitzers with Excalibur precision guided weapons, as well as offensive weapons such as Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) that can strike deep into the occupied territories.  We are arming Ukrainian naval forces with Harpoon anti-ship missiles, as well as 18 Mark VI patrol boats to protect their coastline from the Russian navy.   As we look to the future Ukraine needs an Air Force, and it needs one now.    


Ukraine is desperately requesting excess US Air Force F-15 and F-16 combat aircraft to defend its sovereign borders and provide close air support for its outnumbered soldiers against the unrelenting Russian invading army. 


Providing US combat aircraft has strategic implications whereby Putin will certainly threaten escalation. However, the risk of escalation is ever-present, regardless if US provides essential combat airpower. The risk is even far greater to US national security interests (and the free world) if Ukraine continues to slug it out with a ground war of attrition and in turn possibly lose to Putin/Russia when US airpower could have most effectively turned the tide.


Until a Presidential decision is made to provide US Air Force F-15s/F-16s there are measures the US and NATO can do now in parallel while that approval process is ongoing. The recent Presidential approval for two other American made weapons systems to Ukraine provide compelling lessons learned.   Specifically, M777 Howitzers and M142 HIMARS; precision guided lethal field artillery systems now being employed by Ukraine, have had an immediate impact against Russian enemy forces. 


Soon after the Russian invasion five months ago, Ukraine began to burn through its Russian made ammunition. Artillery tubes are useless without ammo.  So, Ukraine appealed to other former Soviet bloc nations for donations of excess Russian standard ammo.  They received a large portion of Europe’s 122mm and 152mm artillery rounds but have since burned through that inventory.  Now those 122mm and 152mm artillery tubes are neutralized with little or no ammo available.


Similarity, Ukraine's fighter aircraft are mostly Russian made such as SU-23 and SU-25 fighter/bomber aircraft. Many have been destroyed during the invasion, but Ukraine still employs a portion of these airpower assets. When these combat aircraft are further attrited Ukraine will be unable to acquire additional Russian made aircraft, hence the need for US made combat aircraft to replace Ukraine's depleting Russian-made fighter aircraft inventory.


Ideally, providing Ukraine with NATO standardized equipment over the long term would eliminate Ukraine's dependence on Russian made weapons and ammunition all together. Standardization allows NATO forces to operate, together with partners such as Ukraine, and field a more combined deterrent fighting force against future Russian incursions against NATO, friends, and allies.

The lessons previously mentioned from the employment of US made M777 and M142 systems with the Ukrainian Army are most useful to consider when debating whether to provide US fighter aircraft.  Ukrainian fiend artillery soldiers are experts in operating Russian field artillery cannons; Ukrainian pilots already are combat tested and ready to be trained to employ US F-15s/F-16s.


Ukrainian success to date countering the largest land invasion since World War II has surprised the world.  Their success thus far is due to superior political and military leadership, the extraordinary resolve of the Ukrainian people, the exceptional performance by the Ukrainian military, and the addition of US/NATO lethal precision weaponry such as Stingers, Javelins, NLAWs, among others. 


The conflict quickly transitioned in April/May 2022 to a war in the east and south, much involving an artillery duel whereby the Russians had a massive firepower advantage of 10:1 up to 20:1.  NATO stepped up to the plate and provided much needed precision artillery weaponry such as the afore mentioned M777 155 mm towed Howitzers and M142 HIMARS rocket launchers and ammo.  


No crews were trained on MLRS until the Presidential authorization to ship HIMARS to Ukraine was approved. The several weeks it took to provide, train, and eventually employ these systems on the battlefield cost the lives of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and innocent civilians.  The Russians relentlessly destroyed cities, farms, and other targets while Ukrainian forces conducted delaying actions until these precision ground weapons arrived to turn the tide in favor of Ukraine.


Now the debate to send excess US Air Force F-15s and F-16s is upon us. While the Ukrainian Air Force has been effective against the Russians to date, accumulated losses are mounting.  Adding US capabilities such as F-15s/F-16s (among other combat airpower weapons systems) could be a game changer.  Providing US airpower (i.e., equipment, training, weapons, maintenance, and parts) to Ukraine could tip the balance in Ukraine's favor...and In turn have a lasting positive impact on US national security interests for years. Especially now as Ukraine is facing an unrelenting and open ended ground war of attrition that they cannot sustain indefinitely, hence the need for additional US combat airpower. 


The risk is far greater to US national security interests (and the free world) if Ukraine is forced to slug it out with a ground war of attrition and eventually lose to Putin and his merciless Army. The implications for the United States will be felt for years, not to mention the blood on our collective hands, whereby the employment of US airpower capabilities by Ukraine could have effectively turned the tide and enabled Ukraine to win this desperate fight for its own sovereignty and secure a crucial victory for the US, NATO, and the free world.  


History is on our side.  Let us not be timid; the time to act is now.

About the Author(s)

Lieutenant General Richard (Dick) Newton III, USAF
(USA, Retired, USAF 1978)

Leadership, Leader Development, Strategic Planning, Operational Management,
Strategic Communications, Change Management, Aerospace Operations

Dick currently serves as the Executive Director of The Union League Club in New York City.  Founded in 1863 by a group of concerned citizens to help preserve the Union, The Union League Club has built, over ensuing years, a record of distinguished service to our country. As Executive Director his responsibilities incorporate both the historic duties of the General Manager and additional responsibilities. He is a member of the Club's Executive Committee, and Finance Committee, and reports to the Club's President, House Chairman, and ultimately to the Board of Governors.  He also supports the Public Affairs and the Military Affairs Committees. 

Dick capped his 34-year military career as the Assistant Vice Chief of Staff and Director of the Air Staff, Headquarters, U.S Air Force, Washington, D.C. until June 2012.  After he transitioned from the Air Force, he served as Executive Vice President of the 100,000 member Air Force Association in Arlington, Virginia.  His vast experience in the U.S. Military includes serving as the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff Manpower, Personnel and Services, the senior Air Force official responsible for the comprehensive plans and policies for nearly 670,000 military and civilian Air Force members.  He served as Chairman of the Board of the $10B for profit Army & Air Force Exchange Service, overseeing 3,600 retail stores and Chairman of the Board of the 252 store Defense Commissary Agency. A command pilot with nearly 3000 flying hours, earlier in his career he commanded Minot Air Force Base and the 5th Bomb Wing in North Dakota and the nation's first B-2 Stealth bomber squadron.  Among his previous positions as a General Officer, Newton served as the Director, Plans and Policy, U.S. Strategic Command.  Also, he was the Director of Deputy Director Global Operations, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, responsible to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs for oversight of worldwide cyber and information operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations, space and missile defense, and Special Technical Operations.  He currently serves on a number of boards including a Trustee of the USAF Academy Falcon Foundation and the Board of Governors of the USMA Class of 1950.  Dick is a frequent guest national security contributor on Fox News. 

Scholarly Work/Publications/Awards:
Addresses many audiences on a number of topics to include National Security, Leadership Development, and Air, Space and Cyber power.  Testified to the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives on a variety of issues and topics. Holds numerous military awards. 

United States Air Force Academy Class of 1978 (B.S. History)
Webster University (M.A. Industrial Psychology and Human Relations)
The National War College, (M.S. National Security Strategy)

The USAF Academy Falcon Foundation and Association of Graduates
The National Veterans Museum Board of Directors
The Tony Janus Distinguished Aviation Society

Dan is the President American University Kyiv and Co-President Thayer Leadership and a 1988 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.  He served his commitment as an Airborne-Ranger qualified Field Artillery officer. In 2004, he voluntarily re-commissioned in the Infantry to serve in Iraq for 13 months.  He has been awarded the Purple Heart, Ranger Tab, Airborne Badge and cited for ‘courage on the field of battle” by his Brigade Commander. 


Dan has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Small Wars Journal, and Chief Executive magazine. In 2013, he published and co-authored his first book, West Point Leadership: Profiles of Courage, which features 200 of West Point graduates who have helped shape our nation, including the authorized biographies of over 100 living graduates.. The book received 3 literary awards from the Independent Book Publishers Association plus an award from the Military Society Writers of America (MSWA). Dan has appeared frequently on various news networks including CNN, FOX News, FOX & Friends, Bloomberg TV, NBC, MSNBC, and The Today Show.


Ed.D., ABD, Leadership, University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education (graduation expected 2023)

MS.Ed., Leadership & Learning, University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education, 2020

M.S., Integrated Marketing Communications, Medill Graduate School, Northwestern University, 2018

M.B.A., Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University, 2000

B.S., National Security, United States Military Academy, 1988

Full bio here:


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