- NATO leaders are concerned about heavy casualties and the use of large amounts of ammunition in Ukraine.
- “The scale of this war is out of proportion to our recent thinking,” the NATO commander-in-chief said in January.
The heavy casualties and high ammunition consumption seen during the war in Ukraine have worried the NATO commander-in-chief.
Created in 1949 to deter a major Soviet invasion of Western Europe, NATO has added new members since the end of the Cold War, but decades after the Soviet threat died down, its military forces were at a standstill. has shrunk. Now, the scale and intensity of the fighting in Ukraine casts doubt on the alliance’s ability to fight a large-scale war against Russia.
“Scale, scale, scale,” said US Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. Swedish Defense Council in January. “The scale of this war is incredible. Ukrainians have 37 front-line brigades, plus dozens more territorial brigades. Russia has lost almost 2,000 tanks. Since then, averaging slow and fast days, Russians have averaged well over 20,000 shells per day.”
“The scale of this war is out of proportion to our recent thinking,” said Cavoli, who is also the commander of U.S. forces in Europe. “But it’s a reality and we have to face it.”
One of the lessons is the importance of an adequate defense industrial base that can provide the necessary equipment and materiel to satisfy the greedy appetite of large-scale and violent warfare. The United States, Russia, and Europe are already rushing to expand production of artillery ammunition after shutting down ammunition stockpiles and factories after the Cold War.
“Capacity is still important, absolutely critical,” Kabori said. “A healthy and resilient defense industrial base is as important as the number of our armed forces.”
Cavoli also took aim at the belief that soft power had taken the place of military power.
“Hard power is real,” said Cavoli, adding that diplomacy, cyber warfare and economic power are important.
“If another guy shows up with a tank, better have a tank,” Cavoli said.
Interestingly, Kavoli cites Ukraine’s astonishing battlefield successes as proof that “precision trumps mass.” But there’s a catch: Quality trumps quantity takes time, and “that time is usually bought with space. Using this method requires space in exchange for time. We don’t have it, we need to make up for it.This is our thinking, our plan.”
It acknowledges that for Russia’s smaller neighbors, which lack strategic depth like the Baltics, NATO may not have time to come to their rescue should Russia invade.
As for NATO, the alliance never fought the war it feared against the Soviet Union. However, after the Cold War ended, NATO engaged in several military operations.
NATO aircraft conducted bombing operations in Serbia in 1999 and Libya in 2011. The alliance has also sent troops on peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Kosovo and fought alongside US forces in Afghanistan.
However, these were small operations with limited numbers of troops, aircraft, and ammunition. Even then, it was clear that NATO — which had expanded from its founding 12 members to its current 30 members — relied on U.S. support. For example, in Libya, NATO air force lacked precision-guided bombs After the first month.
Moscow’s purchase of ammunition from North Korea suggests that the Russian military is ill-equipped to fight NATO and Ukraine. But NATO’s desperate attempts to rake in arms and ammunition for Ukraine show that the alliance doesn’t have much depth in its arsenal.
The U.S. is perhaps best prepared for a long war, and even then it will take years for the U.S. defense industry to ramp up production of ammunition. No one wants a big war, but Ukraine is a reminder that there are possibilities that cannot be ignored.
Michael Peck is a defense writer whose work has appeared in Forbes, Defense News, Foreign Policy magazine, and other publications. He holds a master’s degree in political science.follow him twitter and LinkedIn.