Small Wars Journal

Provide Ukraine with the Submunitions It Needs for Effective Drone Warfare

Wed, 03/08/2023 - 11:03am

Provide Ukraine with the Submunitions It Needs for Effective Drone Warfare

By Dan Rice, President American University Kyiv and Co-President Thayer Leadership

Recent media reports from outlets such as Reuters, Ukraine Business News, and Euromaidan have created unnecessary confusion and politicization around Ukraine's request for submunitions to be used in drone warfare. It is time to set the record straight and provide Ukraine with the tools it needs to effectively defend itself against Russian aggression.

Contrary to misleading reports, Ukraine is not requesting MK-20 cluster bombs to be dropped from drones. Rather, they are seeking individual submunitions, smaller than one pound each, to be dropped one at a time from small drones onto enemy forces. These submunitions are a critical tool for Ukraine's innovative drone warfare strategy, which has proven effective against Russian forces in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

It is unacceptable that political considerations are being given priority over Ukraine's legitimate needs for self-defense. The submunitions that Ukraine is requesting are legal under international law and are necessary for Ukraine's national security. It is time for the United States to provide Ukraine with the tools it needs to defend itself against Russian aggression, without hesitation or delay.

The media outlets that have reported on Ukraine's request have mischaracterized it, leading to unnecessary confusion and politicization of the issue. These outlets have portrayed Ukraine's request as controversial and inflammatory, when it is a legitimate and necessary request for a critical tool of modern warfare.

The confusion around Ukraine's request stems from the fact that these small munitions were once, previously, housed inside cluster bombs. But Ukraine is not seeking cluster bombs - it is requesting individual submunitions to be used in drone warfare. These submunitions are an essential component of Ukraine's drone arsenal, and are much more effective than hand grenades, and will allow Ukraine to better target and eliminate enemy forces without putting their own soldiers at unnecessary risk.

It is crucial that we support our allies in Ukraine in their efforts to defend themselves. Providing Ukraine with the submunitions it needs to effectively conduct drone warfare is an important step in that direction. Let us not be misled by inaccurate reporting or politicization of this issue. It is time to focus on what is best for our national security interests and those of our allies. Let us provide Ukraine with the tools it needs to defend itself against Russian aggression, once and for all.


About the Author(s)

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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