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Tue Mar 14, 2023, 04:22 PM

Rep. Jeff Jackson updates constituents on next phase expectations in Ukraine. Good read.

Last edited Tue Mar 14, 2023, 05:47 PM - Edit history (1)

As a new member of the Armed Services Committee, Iíve spent the last few weeks learning as much as I can about the war in Ukraine.

Iíve spoken with generals, Pentagon officials, and some folks close to the ground.

Now that Iím reasonably well-informed, itís time to report back on whatís about to happen in Ukraine.

(And yes, everything Iím about to tell you is unclassified).

Both Ukraine and Russia are about to launch major spring offensives.

Russia has already begun theirs to some extent - itís been focused on the city of Bakhmut, which is now surrounded on three sides by Russiaís mercenary army, the Wagner group. Bakhmut has been under siege for months and, whether or not Russia succeeds in taking it, the price it has paid has been severe.

Ukraineís spring offensive is waiting for thousands of its troops to finish getting the upgraded equipment and training which theyíre receiving at NATO bases across Europe as we speak.

Most people Iíve spoken to believe this will be the decisive phase of the war. Both sides are going to try to deliver a knock-out punch over the next 6-8 months.

Neither side starts in a dominant position. Russia will have the advantage of more troops, but Ukraine will have basically every other advantage: Training, equipment, morale, allies.

Most importantly, Russia still does not have air superiority. Their planes canít fly over Ukrainian forces because theyíll be shot down - not by the Ukrainian Air Force, but by its air defense artillery which has played a crucial role in allowing Ukrainian forces to have freedom of movement on the ground.

This device is how Ukraine keeps Russiaís Air Force stuck in Russia.This device is how Ukraine keeps Russiaís Air Force stuck in Russia.

Thatís why air defense artillery is still the number one piece of equipment Ukraine is asking for, followed by regular artillery and then armored vehicles.

According to Ukraine, after those priorities, itís fighter jets. Theyíve requested F-16s but the concern is that the quickest we could get the planes, spare parts, maintenance teams, and trained pilots in place would probably be next year and placing that order would drain billions that need to be used for more immediate priorities, forcing a trade-off that would hurt the spring offensive.

Ukraineís best offensive hope right now is the influx of new tanks and armored vehicles from the allies. Namely, Leopards, Challengers, Abrams, Bradleys, and Strykers.

BUT - using these vehicles to their full potential means learning a completely new way to fight. It takes a much higher level of coordination to synchronize the use of artillery, armor, and ground forces.

Itís called combined arms warfare and itís the crux of how Western forces fight. It requires a completely different level of communication among your troops and commanders, and a lot of software goes with it.

Ukrainians are getting a crash course in that training right now and then theyíre going to have to turn around and put it to use in combat immediately.

Thatís not an ideal timeline, but, theyíll be going up against Russian civilians that just got drafted and thrown into the war against their will with very little training and older equipment.

Russian civilians that just got drafted and thrown into the war against their will with very little training and older equipment.Not looking thrilled to be there.

Russiaís shortages are significant. Itís taking tanks out of reserve storage from the Cold War. Theyíre so short on tank commanders that there are reports of medics operating tanks.

Russia is also running low on artillery shells and is turning to China for more. We have intelligence that indicates China is considering supplying Russia. If they do, it will be a huge international problem for China - which China very well knows, which is why it hasnít happened yet.

Russia is also using its own prisoners as cannon fodder by sending them to the front and treating them as intentional targets by letting them be fired upon by Ukrainians in order to reveal the Ukrainian firing positions, then counter-attacking those positions with artillery.

(Those of you familiar with Russian history will see echoes of its past in this kind of approach to warfare. A move like that is straight out of Russiaís long history of treating its soldiers as maximally expendable cogs in their rumbling war machine. What strikes us as horrifying is, for them, simply revisiting some of their classic techniques.)

It has also become clear that Russia has kidnapped thousands of Ukrainian children and is paying Russian families to adopt them and even change their names so they canít be found after the war is over. This came up several times in our last committee hearing, as did the fact that this is the latest entry in the long list of Russian war crimes so far.

Many of my constituents have asked how much weíve spent helping Ukraine. Itís about $113 billion, which is about 2% of everything the federal government spends in a year. However, thatís not all in the form of a cash payment to Ukraine. A big piece is us putting a price tag on the military equipment weíre sending them and crediting that against the amount weíve said we would spend.

A major focus of our first hearing was on oversight for the assistance weíre giving them. We had the Inspector General for the Department of Defense come in and answer questions - some quite hostile - about any evidence of equipment or funds being diverted. As it turns out, thereís a lot of oversight built into the system. Weíve given them handheld scanners to help us see where equipment is, weíve had members of Congress personally visit to see the stockpiles, and - frankly - Ukraine has an enormous incentive to maintain a strong relationship of trust with us, particularly when it comes to how theyíre using what weíre sending. For his part, the Inspector General told us that there is no evidence that weapons are being diverted.

One big question that many are asking: How does this end?

The most succinct answer Iíve heard is from a senior official at the State Department, who said this in a hearing:

ďWe want to put [Ukraine] in the best possible position so that whether this war ends on the battlefield, whether it ends with the diplomacy or some combination, that they are sitting on a map that is far more advantageous for their long-term future and that Putin feels the strategic failure.Ē

That sounds about right to me.

Thatís the latest. Iíll keep you posted.

Rep. Jeff Jackson

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Reply Rep. Jeff Jackson updates constituents on next phase expectations in Ukraine. Good read. (Original post)
blm Mar 2023 OP
tblue37 Mar 2023 #1
Just A Box Of Rain Mar 2023 #2
blm Mar 2023 #3
Just A Box Of Rain Mar 2023 #4

Response to blm (Original post)

Tue Mar 14, 2023, 04:29 PM

1. K&R & thanks!

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Response to blm (Original post)

Tue Mar 14, 2023, 04:38 PM

2. Pretty good analysis.

 

I'm perhaps more sanguine than Rep. Jeff Jackson about the degree to which UKR forces are already trained and prepared to implement "combined arms warfare," especially with the free-flow of critical intelligence and surveillance information that pours into their commanders in real time from friendly allies, in addition to the arrival of new tanks, etc.

The UKR forces have shown just how quick and creative they have been in adapting to the military situations on the ground during this entire war. Their command and communication networks are strong, they have adopted the Western model of empowering officers in the field to swiftly make decisions in the moment, and they continue to innovate and fight creatively.

Continuing to bolster Ukraine's air defenses is an imperative.

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Response to Just A Box Of Rain (Reply #2)

Tue Mar 14, 2023, 10:19 PM

3. I wish more of our Dems could speak

to the issue as effectively. He never tries to sound superior, just clearly explains in simple, effective language.

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Response to blm (Reply #3)

Tue Mar 14, 2023, 10:38 PM

4. I'll keep an eye out for more from Jeff Jackson. Thanks for recommending him.

 

I see he served in Kandahar. Makes sense.

I do think he's spot on on the most controversial point, which is the matter of whether to supply F-16s at this juncture, where Jackson is on the same page as Joe Biden and the Pentagon in concluding that funds can be far better spent supplying more critical weapons instead of jet fighters.

Helping Ukraine is a top priority for this Democrat. Hugely important. But as with pushing the ill conceived idea of imposing a "no-fly zone" enforced by NATO pilots early in the war, I think Zelenskyy is wrong to be pushing for F-16s now.

Air defenses, HIMARS, artillery, tanks and APCs, and other such gear is more critical to Ukraine that building an airforce when--as Jackson rightly suggests--the Russians are afraid to fly in combat now.

He didn't mention, but I'm sure he's aware, thet the one really outstanding weapons system the Russians do have is the S-300 (and S-400) anti-aircraft systems, which would make expensive F-16s vulnerable.


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