These days, when the talks about Zaluzhniy’s supposedly imminent dismissal have become active again (we already wrote about his disagreements with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky herehttps://neatkariga.nra.lv/komentari/bens-latkovskis/446034-valerija-zaluznija-atstadinasana-rada- troubling-world?_gl=1*ukz5wz*_ga*MTExMTAwODY5Mi4xNTcxMjA0NDQy*_ga_LTMBW853YH*MTcwNjg3NjUzMy42MjAuMS4xNzA2ODc2NTU4LjAu), he published the article “The design of war has changed” on the CNN website. In this article, Zaluzhny outlines the features of modern, 21st century war.
Here is the Latvian translation of this article.
World War II ended almost 80 years ago, but it still defines the strategic vision of war. Whatever advances have been made in aviation, missile technology, and space-based assets, the concept of victory remains the same: destroy the enemy and capture or liberate territory. However, every war is unique.
There is no greater challenge for a military commander, in my opinion, than to understand in time what works differently in each war. First of all, it is technological progress that determines the development of weapons and equipment. Second, domestic and foreign political conditions, as well as the economic situation. Victory requires a special strategy that follows from this special logic.
As we know, the main driving force behind this war is the development of weapons systems that can operate without direct human control. The proliferation of such weapon systems is occurring at an alarming rate, and the spheres of their use are rapidly expanding.
It is extremely important to understand that it is these unmanned systems, such as drones, along with other types of modern weapons, that are the best way for Ukraine to avoid getting into a positional war where we have no advantage.
While mastering such technologies is critical, it is not the only factor influencing current strategy.
We face a decline in military support from key allies as they grapple with their own domestic political tensions.
Our partners’ stockpiles of missiles, anti-aircraft interceptors and artillery shells are depleting both due to the high intensity of hostilities in Ukraine and also due to the lack of explosives production capacity in the world.
Given that events in the Middle East have distracted the attention of the international community, Russia could try to provoke new conflicts elsewhere. The weakness of the international sanctions regime, in turn, means that Russia, in cooperation with other countries, can still strengthen its military-industrial complex in order to successfully implement a weakening war “to endurance”.
Admittedly, the enemy has considerable advantages in mobilizing human resources. This is especially evident in comparison with the inability of the Ukrainian state authorities to ensure the level of human resources of our armed forces without resorting to unpopular measures.
(An additional explanation is needed here. There is a sharp lack of human resources in the Ukrainian army. I don’t want to criticize a belligerent country, but when the war began, such a long and comprehensive period of hostilities was not predicted, as a result of which the mobilization measures went, in my opinion, in the wrong direction. Emphasis was placed on already the enlistment of mature men and on volunteers, while world military practice shows: the younger the warrior, the more energetic, more daring and faster he learns the art of warfare.
Currently, the average age of a soldier in the Armed Forces of Ukraine is over 40 years old, and this age is only increasing. There is no way the new law on mobilization can be passed because it is unpopular, but politicians are traditionally (it turns out, even during wartime) afraid of any unpopular decisions. Perhaps it was the disagreements on mobilization issues that were one of the most important in the Zaluzhny/Zelensky conflict.)
We have to reckon with a decline in military support from key allies.
Finally, we are still hampered by the shortcomings of our country’s legal framework, as well as the partial monopolization of the defense industry. This creates bottlenecks in production, for example in munitions, which further deepens Ukraine’s dependence on allies.
Our combat experience, especially since 2022, is unique – but for the sake of victory, we must constantly find new ways and new opportunities that would allow us to gain an advantage over the enemy. Perhaps the number one priority here is the acquisition of a relatively cheap, modern and highly effective arsenal of unmanned vehicles and other technological means.
Already, such means allow commanders to observe the situation on the battlefield in real time, day and night, in any weather conditions. But not only that. They provide real-time intelligence that allows you to adjust your fire around the clock, without interruption – allowing for high-precision strikes on enemy targets in forward positions and deeper rear. In other words, it means no less than a complete transformation of the management of combat operations and the abandonment of outdated stereotypes.
New operations include the creation of digital fields, radio-electronic environmental control or a combined operation using attack drones and cyber equipment. Such operations would be coordinated and directed according to a common concept and plan.
Importantly, their purpose will not always be just a combat objective. It can also be aimed at reducing the enemy’s economic capabilities, isolating or weakening it. Offensive operations can also have psychological objectives. However, for now the priority remains: improving the situation on the battlefield.
This is also where the undoubted superiority of modern technology over the traditional manifests itself, as remote control of combat means means that fewer soldiers die, thus reducing human losses. This makes it possible to reduce (although, of course, not completely) the importance of heavy equipment in combat missions and in the general conduct of warfare. This opens up the possibility of sudden mass strikes on critical infrastructure facilities and communications centers without the use of expensive missiles or manned aircraft. Other advantages will become apparent over time, although of course the enemy will always be looking for ways to defend against such operations and seize or regain the initiative. Therefore, defense systems must also be constantly improved, as must countermeasures against the enemy’s use of new technologies.
The challenges facing our armed forces should not be underestimated. They require the creation of a completely new system of technological rearmament of the country. Considering everything that is being done now, we believe that the creation of such a system could be done within five months. Our partners feel the same way. (Taking into account Russia’s potential threats, our – Latvia’s – highest political and military leadership should also immediately tackle these issues. BL)
This time will be devoted to the creation of an appropriate organizational structure. For finding relevant officials, equipping workplaces, training, creating support infrastructure and logistics, as well as developing ideological doctrine.
In conclusion, we must conclude that in 2024 we should focus on three main directions:
1) Creating a system that would provide our armed forces with high technology.
2) Introduction of a new philosophy of training and warfare, which would take into account the limitations of resources and their limited use.
3) Learn new combat skills as soon as possible.
We already have the ability to destroy the enemy and ensure the existence of the country. Our goal should be: to take advantage of the moment, to make maximum use of the newly acquired knowledge of war, which will allow us to inflict maximum damage on the enemy with fewer resources, end aggression and protect Ukraine from it in the future.
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