With its Soviet-era tanks and trenches, the war in Ukraine sometimes feels like a relic of the past. But it also brings, according to experts, its share of lessons…
With its Soviet-era tanks and trenches, the war in Ukraine sometimes feels like a relic of the past. But it also brings, according to experts, its share of lessons for any future conflict, from the Middle East to Taiwan.
The need to maintain high levels of arms stocks, high-tech warfare and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools: here is an overview.
- Artificial intelligence –
On the battlefield, spotting targets and being able to hit them quickly is crucial.
The novelty is the “sensor fusion” (or “sensor fusion”) which allows, by combining different sources, to get a precise image of the terrain, notes Stephen Biddle, expert in defense issues at Columbia University .
In Ukraine, the American company Palantir has provided Kiev with its artificial intelligence tools to sort gigabytes of data and help the command to know, in real time, the movements of Russian troops, their positions and potential targets. .
Palantir CEO Alex Karp says these new-fangled “weapons of war” give its users a crucial tactical advantage over their opponents.
- Autonomous weapons –
Drone warfare began in Ukraine. Russians and Ukrainians are now broadly endowed with the same capabilities in this area, and armies around the world are working to equip themselves.
The next step: next-generation autonomous drones, programmed to attack without human intervention.
These “killer robots” raise fears of the lack of supervision by the military or political leaders.
The Ukrainians already have American-made Switchblade drones with “object recognition” capability to choose targets.
Ukrainian officials also claim to be working on their own fully autonomous drones.
- Open source –
With the war in Ukraine, the recovery of information available on the internet or open-source intelligence (OSINT) has become crucial.
Anyone can scrutinize Telegram groups, satellite photos, maps, online discussion groups and other TikTok videos to glean information ranging from the geolocation of potential targets to behind-the-scenes political decisions.
Many Russian soldiers have paid with their lives for the use of their mobile phones in Ukraine.
Candace Rondeaux, from the New America study center, recalls that open source abounded before the war with information related to preparations for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, launched on February 24.
“I don’t know if the United States and its allies have really taken the measure of it (…). Part of the job is to literally go on social media platforms,” she said.
- Air defense –
Given all the money invested in stealth planes or bombers, the relatively limited role of aviation in the conflict in Ukraine surprised many observers.
The reason has to do with air defence, namely the ability to fire surface-to-air missiles and thus master the airspace.
This is nothing new, stresses Stephen Biddle: “It is very difficult to succeed on offense against a well-prepared defence.”
What Ukraine has demonstrated is that countries need air defense batteries in quantity. A tall order when you consider that a Patriot battery costs over a billion dollars.
- Weapons, more weapons –
One of the main lessons of this war is the fundamental role played by stockpiles of arms and ammunition. The conflict has consumed a lot of it, which requires having stocks, a lot of stocks, and ensuring supplies.
However, Ukraine lacks everything, from the simplest to the most sophisticated ammunition. This explains the considerable effort of the allies to meet the demand.
For Becca Wasser, of the Center for a New American Security, referring to a recent simulation of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, the supply in this case, in particular of precision missiles, would pose a “colossal challenge”.
As with Ukraine, she said, “we can’t just assume that a conflict between the United States and China over Taiwan would be quick.”
For Candace Rondeaux, the United States must share their technologies and help their NATO allies to produce armaments in a coordinated manner.
- Decentralization –
According to Stephen Biddle, the fact that the Ukrainian command is decentralized has proven to be effective against the Russians on the ground.
“A rigid, centralized Russian-style command has long been a bad idea,” he said.
However, many NATO countries are also all
very centralized days, “very difficult to change” situation.
- Lessons for Taiwan –
Becca Wasser notes that Ukraine only started modernizing its military after the humiliation of the Russians’ quick takeover of Crimea in 2014.
The Taiwanese military should do the same now, she said.
Another crucial element: citing the example of Ukraine, Stephen Biddle believes that “the motivation to go and fight is an essential factor”.
“The question of whether the Taiwanese military would be as motivated as the Ukrainians were will be very important,” he concludes.
Source: Notre Temps