Opinion The U.S. is a lot stronger than Russia. We should act like it.

cigaretteman

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By Max Boot
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July 27, 2022 at 7:00 a.m. EDT

The war in Ukraine has now entered its third phase.
Phase one, beginning on Feb. 24, was Russia’s pell-mell attempt to take Kyiv. That resulted in failure thanks to terrible Russian logistics (remember the 40-mile convoy?) and a skillful Ukrainian defense making use of handheld weapons such as Stingers and Javelins supplied by the West.
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Phase two began in mid-April, when Russian dictator Vladimir Putin concentrated his forces on Luhansk province in the eastern Donbas region. That phase, characterized by relentless Russian artillery bombardment, ended in early July with the retreat of Ukrainian forces from Luhansk.
In the third phase of the war, Ukrainian troops are holding a strong defensive position in neighboring Donetsk province (also part of Donbas) and effectively hitting back with High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and other longer-range weapons supplied by the West. The HIMARS, in particular, have been a game changer by allowing the Ukrainians to destroy more than 100 high-value targets such as Russian ammunition depots and command posts.
A Ukrainian battalion commander told The Post that since the HIMARS strikes began, Russian shelling has been “10 times less.” Another Ukrainian officer told the Wall Street Journal: “It was hell over here. Now, it’s like paradise. Super quiet. Everything changed when we got the HIMARS.” President Volodymyr Zelensky says Ukrainian fatalities are down from between 100 and 200 a day to 30 a day.


If Ukraine is able to fight back so effectively with only 12 HIMARS (soon to be 16), imagine what it could do with dozens more and, better still, Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), which use the same platform but have nearly quadruple the range. These rocket systems should be supplemented by Western tanks and fighter aircraft. If the West were to supply all these weapons, Ukraine could mount a counteroffensive to take back lost land in the south and east and help end the war.
The Biden administration is slowly supplying more HIMARS and, for the first time, is even discussing the provision of Western fighter aircraft (after nixing a Polish plan to send MiG-29s in March). But ATACMS appear to be off the table because, as national security adviser Jake Sullivan explained last week, the administration does not want to head “down the road towards a third world war.” Ukraine isn’t even allowed to use its HIMARS to end the shelling of its second-largest city, Kharkiv, because the Russian artillery batteries are located on Russian soil.
This strategic calculus makes no sense. Does Sullivan really believe that Putin will launch World War III if the United States supplies rockets with a range of about 180 miles but will hold off as long as we’re supplying only rockets with a range of about 50 miles? Or that the provision of HIMARS, NASAMS air-defense systems, 155mm howitzers, Phoenix Ghost drones, Javelins and Stingers isn’t too provocative — but fighter aircraft and tanks would be?
President Biden is right not to send U.S. forces into direct combat with the Russians, but everything else should be fair game, from ATACMS to F-16s to Abrams tanks. The Soviets didn’t hesitate to supply North Korea and North Vietnam with fighter aircraft to shoot down U.S. warplanes. (Soviet pilots even flew for North Korea.) Why shouldn’t we return the favor?
At the beginning of the war in Ukraine, some feared that Putin was acting so irrationally that he might resort to nuclear weapons. But if the past five months have taught us anything, it is that, while the Butcher of Bucha is evil, he is not suicidal or irrational.
Putin pulled back from Kyiv when it was revealed to be a losing cause and made sensible, if brutal, use of Russian artillery in Luhansk. Putin has basically ignored rumored Ukrainian strikes on military targets inside Russia. He hasn’t attacked Poland, which has become the main staging ground for weapons to Ukraine. He hasn’t lashed out since Finland and Sweden set about joining NATO, thereby putting more NATO troops on Russia’s border.
This is of a piece with Putin’s history. He is a classic bully who picks on the weak (Georgia, Ukraine, the Syrian rebels) while shying away from direct confrontations with the strong (the United States, NATO). Putin is rational enough to realize that if his military is having trouble handling Ukraine, it would have no chance in a war with the Atlantic alliance.
The United States matches Russia in nuclear forces and far exceeds it in conventional capabilities. Biden is in a far stronger position than Putin, but he is acting as if he were weaker. Stop letting Putin deter us from doing everything we can to aid Ukraine. Putin should be more afraid of us than we are of him.
The war has already proved costly to Russia: It has lost about 1,000 tanks, and roughly 60,000 soldiers have been killed or wounded. There won’t be much left of the Russian military if the Ukrainians are armed with lots more HIMARs and ATACMS, along with tanks and fighter aircraft. The fourth phase of the war could prove decisive — but only if the United States finally makes a commitment to help Ukraine win.

 

Hoosierhawkeye

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You would think with the power the MIC has in Washington we would be going nuts handing Ukraine over whatever weapons they have the personnel to use.

I'd love if we could train their pilots on some of our fighters. Those could really turn the tide.
 

Hoosierhawkeye

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"The United States matches Russia in nuclear forces"

Uh Max....that's why the administration is acting the way it is....which IMO is correct.

If not for Nukes....NATO/US would be occupying the Kremlin about now.

The reality is Russia/Putin has a trump card that we have to factor in....it's reality.

Maybe we need to call his bluff. I mean is he going to really see his own country destroyed over this? I mean he could get mad that we are supplying weapons to Ukraine too which for the record it's an act of war to supply weapons to a nation's enemies.

I feel like we are too willing to back down because Putin can wave his nukes around.
 

binsfeldcyhawk2

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Maybe we need to call his bluff. I mean is he going to really see his own country destroyed over this? I mean he could get mad that we are supplying weapons to Ukraine too which for the record it's an act of war to supply weapons to a nation's enemies.

I feel like we are too willing to back down because Putin can wave his nukes around.
Here's a scenario for you.

Russia starts getting it's ass seriously handed to them. Ukraine advancing on all fronts.

What if Putin decides to drop a nuke on Lviv? To make the Ukrainians stop.

What's the US/NATO response to that?

Everybody seems to think if Russia goes Nuclear it means total Nuclear war and the annihilation of Russia...so they'd never do it.

What if they calculate that if they use one...a shot across the bow....NATO/US don't respond in kind?
 

Hoosierhawkeye

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Here's a scenario for you.

Russia starts getting it's ass seriously handed to them. Ukraine advancing on all fronts.

What if Putin decides to drop a nuke on Lviv? To make the Ukrainians stop.

What's the US/NATO response to that?

Everybody seems to think if Russia goes Nuclear it means total Nuclear war and the annihilation of Russia...so they'd never do it.

What if they calculate that if they use one...a shot across the bow....NATO/US don't respond in kind?

Assuming Ukraine has not invaded Russia itself and is just recapturing their own territory, I'd give them a similar shot across the bow. If that leads to all out nuclear war so be it.

They need to know what will and will not be tolerated.

Backing down teaches them that they can do whatever they want by waving their nukes around.

Cry Havoc and let slip the dogs of war.
 

binsfeldcyhawk2

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Assuming Ukraine has not invaded Russia itself and is just recapturing their own territory, I'd give them a similar shot across the bow. If that leads to all out nuclear war so be it.

They need to know what will and will not be tolerated.

Backing down teaches them that they can do whatever they want by waving their nukes around.

Cry Havoc and let slip the dogs of war.
Dude....that's insanity. Pure insanity....

Ukraine isn't worth Nuclear armageddon...can't believe I had to type that.

Seems to be a recurring theme in this thread though....hopefully the administration has a firm hold of their faculties moving forward....it simply can't be risked.
 
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Assuming Ukraine has not invaded Russia itself and is just recapturing their own territory, I'd give them a similar shot across the bow. If that leads to all out nuclear war so be it.

They need to know what will and will not be tolerated.

Backing down teaches them that they can do whatever they want by waving their nukes around.

Cry Havoc and let slip the dogs of war.
You, and anyone who thinks like this, is a fking moron.
 

ConvenientParking

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Assuming Ukraine has not invaded Russia itself and is just recapturing their own territory, I'd give them a similar shot across the bow. If that leads to all out nuclear war so be it.

They need to know what will and will not be tolerated.

Backing down teaches them that they can do whatever they want by waving their nukes around.

Cry Havoc and let slip the dogs of war.

Ukraine is getting nuked first if we decide it is our foreign policy to escalate this war past a red line for Russia. That will be way worse for them than the current war. Plus it might become Planet of the Apes. I think we should be careful not to turn arming a Ukraine who wants to fight into forcing Ukraine to keep fighting if they could otherwise reach a ceasefire.
 
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Hoosierhawkeye

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Dude....that's insanity. Pure insanity....

Ukraine isn't worth Nuclear armageddon...can't believe I had to type that.

Seems to be a recurring theme in this thread though....hopefully the administration has a firm hold of their faculties moving forward....it simply can't be risked.

Is Estonia? Is Poland? Is Germany?

Where is your red line before you stand up to the bully.
 
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binsfeldcyhawk2

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Is Estonia? Is Poland? Is Germany?

Where is your red line before you stand up to the bully.
Article 5 of the NATO charter is pretty clear cut. Putin realizes that....hence he hasn't invade a NATO member.

That's the red line...and it's clear cut.

Ukraine....isn't. We made that abundantly clear in the lead up to this war.


 
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Hoosierhawkeye

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Ukraine is taking volunteers. If you aren't typing this BS from Kyiv then STFU.

I'm asking the question policy wise where is the red line. If Russia nuking Ukraine is ok, where do we say enough is enough.

captain-picard-the-line-must-be-drawn-here.gif
 

Hoosierhawkeye

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Dick Cheney is that you?

Psh Iraq wasn't nuking westernized democracies.

And quite frankly the Iraqi democracy is still hanging on. I don't know if it was worth the cost but regardless we did a good thing there. Not sure why they where able to get it together there but not Afganistan. But I pray they continue as an example of democracy in the ME.
 

hwk23

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Here's a scenario for you.

Russia starts getting it's ass seriously handed to them. Ukraine advancing on all fronts.

What if Putin decides to drop a nuke on Lviv? To make the Ukrainians stop.

What's the US/NATO response to that?

Everybody seems to think if Russia goes Nuclear it means total Nuclear war and the annihilation of Russia...so they'd never do it.

What if they calculate that if they use one...a shot across the bow....NATO/US don't respond in kind?
Nuclear isn't the only bad scenerio, obviously by far the worst though. Russia isn't going to just take the L. That's unlikely. To start, Russia could level Kiev conventionally with missiles and bombs. So far they have decided not to. They could also retreat temporarily and mobilise like in WW2, put together 10m troops and convert industries to making weapons. They've already swtiched to state control of the military industry recently. If that happens Nato would have it's hands full for sure. All the time nuclear risk would be higher than ever. Also, if Putin were to get ousted, unlikely, there's a good chance the next guy will be worse, more hardline.
 

ConvenientParking

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Psh Iraq wasn't nuking westernized democracies.

And quite frankly the Iraqi democracy is still hanging on. I don't know if it was worth the cost but regardless we did a good thing there. Not sure why they where able to get it together there but not Afganistan. But I pray they continue as an example of democracy in the ME.

We killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq because we were collectively frightened after 9/11 and let our government gaslight the UN, the corporate media, and us into believing Saddam was a threat like none since the USSR. I don't know if we can just insist we did a good thing because it resulted in toppling a dictator.
 

Hoosierhawkeye

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We killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq because we were collectively frightened after 9/11 and let our government gaslight the UN, the corporate media, and us into believing Saddam was a threat like none since the USSR. I don't know if we can just insist we did a good thing because it resulted in toppling a dictator.

It is a good thing. . . Now the question is if it was worth the cost.

I'm sure many of the survivors there might say yes. Not sure what the dead would say.
 

soybean

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Putin has made miscalculations in the past and he will likely do so in the future. But I doubt he goes for his nukes. My guess, in fact my expectation, is that as Winter approaches we will start to hear more news from the Kremlin that Russia has met more and more of its miltary goals, and the Nazi's in Ukraine have seen the error of their ways. The Russian people will soon learn that Russia's military has taught Ukraine & NATO a valuable lesson that Russia is not to be trifled with. Russia will then shortly after announce that a cowed Ukraine has agreed to come to the table to humbly enter into talks to solve their remaining differences under the auspices of the UN and Turkey.

Then a protracted and complicated series of talks will begin that will include much loud back and forth with Putin stalling for time, thinking time is on his side. The diplomatic acrobatics that Putin will display to the world will make even Kim Jung Il blush with envy.
 
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kcnole63

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Here's a scenario for you.

Russia starts getting it's ass seriously handed to them. Ukraine advancing on all fronts.

What if Putin decides to drop a nuke on Lviv? To make the Ukrainians stop.

What's the US/NATO response to that?

Everybody seems to think if Russia goes Nuclear it means total Nuclear war and the annihilation of Russia...so they'd never do it.

What if they calculate that if they use one...a shot across the bow....NATO/US don't respond in kind?
Bins, if this were to happen, what do you think the response would be from the US/NATO?
 

The Tradition

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If Russia nuked an Ukrainian city the world's howls of outrage would be deafening.

But what NATO should do in response is nuke every known nuclear launch site in Russia and take our chance with any leftover capacity.

 
Sep 23, 2011
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By Max Boot
Columnist |
July 27, 2022 at 7:00 a.m. EDT

The war in Ukraine has now entered its third phase.
Phase one, beginning on Feb. 24, was Russia’s pell-mell attempt to take Kyiv. That resulted in failure thanks to terrible Russian logistics (remember the 40-mile convoy?) and a skillful Ukrainian defense making use of handheld weapons such as Stingers and Javelins supplied by the West.
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Phase two began in mid-April, when Russian dictator Vladimir Putin concentrated his forces on Luhansk province in the eastern Donbas region. That phase, characterized by relentless Russian artillery bombardment, ended in early July with the retreat of Ukrainian forces from Luhansk.
In the third phase of the war, Ukrainian troops are holding a strong defensive position in neighboring Donetsk province (also part of Donbas) and effectively hitting back with High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and other longer-range weapons supplied by the West. The HIMARS, in particular, have been a game changer by allowing the Ukrainians to destroy more than 100 high-value targets such as Russian ammunition depots and command posts.
A Ukrainian battalion commander told The Post that since the HIMARS strikes began, Russian shelling has been “10 times less.” Another Ukrainian officer told the Wall Street Journal: “It was hell over here. Now, it’s like paradise. Super quiet. Everything changed when we got the HIMARS.” President Volodymyr Zelensky says Ukrainian fatalities are down from between 100 and 200 a day to 30 a day.


If Ukraine is able to fight back so effectively with only 12 HIMARS (soon to be 16), imagine what it could do with dozens more and, better still, Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), which use the same platform but have nearly quadruple the range. These rocket systems should be supplemented by Western tanks and fighter aircraft. If the West were to supply all these weapons, Ukraine could mount a counteroffensive to take back lost land in the south and east and help end the war.
The Biden administration is slowly supplying more HIMARS and, for the first time, is even discussing the provision of Western fighter aircraft (after nixing a Polish plan to send MiG-29s in March). But ATACMS appear to be off the table because, as national security adviser Jake Sullivan explained last week, the administration does not want to head “down the road towards a third world war.” Ukraine isn’t even allowed to use its HIMARS to end the shelling of its second-largest city, Kharkiv, because the Russian artillery batteries are located on Russian soil.
This strategic calculus makes no sense. Does Sullivan really believe that Putin will launch World War III if the United States supplies rockets with a range of about 180 miles but will hold off as long as we’re supplying only rockets with a range of about 50 miles? Or that the provision of HIMARS, NASAMS air-defense systems, 155mm howitzers, Phoenix Ghost drones, Javelins and Stingers isn’t too provocative — but fighter aircraft and tanks would be?
President Biden is right not to send U.S. forces into direct combat with the Russians, but everything else should be fair game, from ATACMS to F-16s to Abrams tanks. The Soviets didn’t hesitate to supply North Korea and North Vietnam with fighter aircraft to shoot down U.S. warplanes. (Soviet pilots even flew for North Korea.) Why shouldn’t we return the favor?
At the beginning of the war in Ukraine, some feared that Putin was acting so irrationally that he might resort to nuclear weapons. But if the past five months have taught us anything, it is that, while the Butcher of Bucha is evil, he is not suicidal or irrational.
Putin pulled back from Kyiv when it was revealed to be a losing cause and made sensible, if brutal, use of Russian artillery in Luhansk. Putin has basically ignored rumored Ukrainian strikes on military targets inside Russia. He hasn’t attacked Poland, which has become the main staging ground for weapons to Ukraine. He hasn’t lashed out since Finland and Sweden set about joining NATO, thereby putting more NATO troops on Russia’s border.
This is of a piece with Putin’s history. He is a classic bully who picks on the weak (Georgia, Ukraine, the Syrian rebels) while shying away from direct confrontations with the strong (the United States, NATO). Putin is rational enough to realize that if his military is having trouble handling Ukraine, it would have no chance in a war with the Atlantic alliance.
The United States matches Russia in nuclear forces and far exceeds it in conventional capabilities. Biden is in a far stronger position than Putin, but he is acting as if he were weaker. Stop letting Putin deter us from doing everything we can to aid Ukraine. Putin should be more afraid of us than we are of him.
The war has already proved costly to Russia: It has lost about 1,000 tanks, and roughly 60,000 soldiers have been killed or wounded. There won’t be much left of the Russian military if the Ukrainians are armed with lots more HIMARs and ATACMS, along with tanks and fighter aircraft. The fourth phase of the war could prove decisive — but only if the United States finally makes a commitment to help Ukraine win.

You sure about that?


I don't think our 20 somes scare anyone.
 

NorthDSMHawk

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If Russia nuked an Ukrainian city the world's howls of outrage would be deafening.

But what NATO should do in response is nuke every known nuclear launch site in Russia and take our chance with any leftover capacity.

How many known nuke sites do they have? What would be the environmental fallout from those strikes?

TIA from someone less knowledgeable about the subject.
 

binsfeldcyhawk2

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Bins, if this were to happen, what do you think the response would be from the US/NATO?
If l had to lay a bet I’d say we still don’t respond with direct military intervention. The risk of escalating after they just used a nuke would be too great….Ukraine isn’t worth going to Nuclear war over….that’s been the calculation from the start.

In any case we’d be in a whole new much more dangerous world if they were to do that….and get away with it. Set a horrible precedent.
 
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The Tradition

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How many known nuke sites do they have? What would be the environmental fallout from those strikes?

TIA from someone less knowledgeable about the subject.

I'm pretty sure we know where at least 90 percent of their nukes are located. Yeah, there are nukes "on the move" in subs, planes or otherwise that we'd miss, but we'd take out most of their capabilities with a surprise strike.
 

HawkeyeGenius

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Dude....that's insanity. Pure insanity....

Ukraine isn't worth Nuclear armageddon...can't believe I had to type that.

Seems to be a recurring theme in this thread though....hopefully the administration has a firm hold of their faculties moving forward....it simply can't be risked.
Exactly correct that Ukraine isn't worth a full fledged nuclear war.
 
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NorthDSMHawk

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I'm pretty sure we know where at least 90 percent of their nukes are located. Yeah, there are nukes "on the move" in subs, planes or otherwise that we'd miss, but we'd take out most of their capabilities with a surprise strike.
Yeah, that’s great. I’m sure we’d limit it to just a handful or so successful strikes on the US, no biggie.

I’m more looking for the amount of nukes you’re estimating us launching against them and what the fallout would be on neighboring countries and the earth.

TIA.
 
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The Tradition

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Yeah, that’s great. I’m sure we’d limit it to just a handful or so successful strikes on the US, no biggie.

I’m more looking for the amount of nukes you’re estimating us launching against them and what the fallout would be on neighboring countries and the earth.

TIA.

Mostly just little tactical nukes less than 200 kilotons. Minimal impact.
 

NorthDSMHawk

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Mostly just little tactical nukes less than 200 kilotons. Minimal impact.
Sweet, guessing we’ve went ahead and changed out all our delivery systems with strategic nukes for tactical payloads? Or we not using our minute men icbms?

Back to the other question, what sort of fallout are you expecting with the tactical nukes? What about the Russian strategic nukes you expect to make it through? And remind me how many nukes we sending for that totally not made up 90% number you cited?
 
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The Russians have rail based ICBMS and sub launched ICBMS. Enough to annihilate us even if we got every other of the fixed site. The idiocy on this blog is unreal.
 
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UKGrad93

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You would think with the power the MIC has in Washington we would be going nuts handing Ukraine over whatever weapons they have the personnel to use.

I'd love if we could train their pilots on some of our fighters. Those could really turn the tide.
Your last paragraph is the key to supplying our fighter jets. Ukraine would need training for pilots and ground crews, spare parts, missals, bullets, etc…. All of that will take years. We’d either have to relabel everything in the aircraft or teach the Ukrainians how to read and understand English.

It may work to go the route of having another country provid MiGs and backfilling that country with F-16s?

I would consider having some of our guys do drone strikes to help out though.
 

Hoosierhawkeye

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Your last paragraph is the key to supplying our fighter jets. Ukraine would need training for pilots and ground crews, spare parts, missals, bullets, etc…. All of that will take years. We’d either have to relabel everything in the aircraft or teach the Ukrainians how to read and understand English.

It may work to go the route of having another country provid MiGs and backfilling that country with F-16s?

I would consider having some of our guys do drone strikes to help out though.

Only problem is that I think most of our allies that had MIG's are running out of them because they where mostly leftovers from when they got their military hardware from Russia.

So it's not like there are a bunch of MIG's to go around.

On the other hand we have thousands of aircraft that have aged out or are going to age out very quickly that are still superior to anything the Russians are flying. And that's just our junk aircraft that we don't even really need anymore. That's to say nothing about the modern aircraft that our MIC is able to produce.

Honestly since the military is adopting a new battle rifle, why not just ship all our old M4's and M16's out to Ukraine.
 

NorthDSMHawk

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Honestly since the military is adopting a new battle rifle, why not just ship all our old M4's and M16's out to Ukraine.
That's a great idea! Assuming we just push the magic "build a rifle" button.

It's expected that the first unit of soldiers involved in close-quarters combat will be equipped with the new system in the fourth quarter of 2023, Burris said.

https://www.defense.gov/News/News-S...unces-2-new-rifles-for-close-combat-soldiers/

The first batch of 25 XM5s and 15 XM250s are planned to be delivered in late 2023. The Army plans to procure a total of 107,000 rifles and 13,000 automatic rifles for close combat forces including infantrymen, cavalry scouts, combat engineers, forward observers and combat medics; there are no plans initially to issue the weapons to non-combat soldiers.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XM5


Not only are the order fulfillments a ways off, they don't plan to produce many since 90% of the military doesn't need the upgrade. Not really sure small arms are what Ukraine is needing right now anyway. Rest assured, the ones that don't end up in storage here will certainly find their way around the world, likely to the first African country that decides to play ball for team USA instead of China.
 

Hoosierhawkeye

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That's a great idea! Assuming we just push the magic "build a rifle" button.

It's expected that the first unit of soldiers involved in close-quarters combat will be equipped with the new system in the fourth quarter of 2023, Burris said.

https://www.defense.gov/News/News-S...unces-2-new-rifles-for-close-combat-soldiers/

The first batch of 25 XM5s and 15 XM250s are planned to be delivered in late 2023. The Army plans to procure a total of 107,000 rifles and 13,000 automatic rifles for close combat forces including infantrymen, cavalry scouts, combat engineers, forward observers and combat medics; there are no plans initially to issue the weapons to non-combat soldiers.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XM5


Not only are the order fulfillments a ways off, they don't plan to produce many since 90% of the military doesn't need the upgrade. Not really sure small arms are what Ukraine is needing right now anyway. Rest assured, the ones that don't end up in storage here will certainly find their way around the world, likely to the first African country that decides to play ball for team USA instead of China.

IDK at the first stages of the war they where turning away volunteers because they could not arm them. Is that still true?

They will also still to my knowledge turn away foreign volunteers if they don't have any military experience.

I don't know that it's their biggest problem but they do appear to me to not have as many small arms as they need. Because if they did then they would simply train anyone who was willing to fight regardless of military background.

That said I'm not saying we send them before we get the new rifles in, but at the same time I am expecting this war to still be on when we do start to get the new ones in a year and a half from now.