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Ukraine’s war technology lessons influence UK Defence strategy, says Defence Secretary

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Ukraine has tragically become a “battle lab” for war technology, with its lessons shaping the future of Britain’s armed forces, according to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. As the revised Defence Command Paper is set to be released, Wallace highlighted the significant impact of the effectiveness of weapons provided to Kyiv by its allies on the paper’s revisions.

“The war in Ukraine has focused minds because there is a very real adversary being very aggressive, breaking all the rules of war on the continent of Europe, fighting a war designed to destroy a country,” Wallace stated. He emphasized the need to adapt and learn from the conflict, ensuring that the UK’s armed forces incorporate the crucial lessons.

The revised paper outlines how the UK plans to invest an additional £2.5 billion in defense spending. Wallace, who intends to step down as defence secretary during the next cabinet reshuffle after serving for four years, highlighted the necessity of adjusting the risk appetite initially taken when the paper was first published.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) emphasized key objectives for the UK’s armed forces, including prioritizing investment in replenishment, modernization, and a fully integrated approach to deterrence and defense. Wallace stressed the significance of new technologies in modern warfare, stating that they are not mere gimmicks but fundamental to combat effectiveness.

One of the crucial lessons derived from the conflict in Ukraine is the power of electronic warfare, according to Wallace. Electronic warfare’s role in acting as a decoy or a defense mechanism has gained prominence and has risen in priority. Additionally, the war has underscored the importance of “deep fire” artillery, leading to the decision to retire old 155mm guns and introduce new replacements, such as the Swedish Archer 1, which offers extended ranges of up to 60km.

Artillery has played a significant role for both sides in the Ukrainian conflict. However, the UK’s armed forces have scaled down their artillery forces since the end of the Cold War. Wallace emphasized the need to rebalance the focus on “deep fire” capabilities, as they have evolved considerably over the years.

As a former soldier who played a vital role in the UK’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Wallace spoke about his desired legacy within the Ministry of Defence. He praised Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for providing a significant £24 billion legacy to the department, enabling a real-term increase in defense spending.

Wallace concluded by warning that the conflict in Ukraine serves as a stark reminder that there are individuals with malicious intent who pose a threat to Britain and its allies. While Wallace is expected to step down from his position, the date for the next cabinet reshuffle is yet to be confirmed, with September being a likely timeframe according to sources.

The revised Defence Command Paper, influenced by the tragic developments in Ukraine, aims to shape the UK’s armed forces, incorporating valuable lessons learned from the war-torn region. With a focus on new technologies, electronic warfare, and advanced artillery capabilities, the UK is poised to enhance its defense strategy and be better prepared for future conflicts.

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