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This War Is Going to End Exactly How the West Decides It Will

February 8, 2024
Notes
Transcript
Eric welcomes former Supreme Allied Commander (SACEUR) of NATO General Philip Breedlove.  General Breedlove is one of the nation’s preeminent military strategists having served as commander of US Air Forces in Europe as well as Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force. He is currently a Distinguished Professor of Practice at the Sam Nunn School at Georgia Tech (General Breedlove’s alma mater). They discuss the state of play in Ukraine, the successes and failures of Ukraine’s counter-offensive (including successes in the air and naval domains), the prospects for renewed Russian offensive operations in the direction of Kupyansk, the longer term trajectory of the conflict absent the supplemental aid bill currently before the U.S. Congress, the role that different weapons systems can make on the battlefield, how the U.S. administration has assessed the escalation risks, the long term consequences of defeat and the prospect of a reconstituted Russian threat to NATO, as well as the travails of Israel fighting in Gaza.

Shield of the Republic is a Bulwark podcast co-sponsored by the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia

This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    Welcome to Shield of the
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:08
    Republic Secret Podcast sponsored by the Bulwark and the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, and dedicated to the proposition articulated by Walter Littman during World War two that strong and balanced foreign policy is the necessary shield of our Democratic Republic. Eric Edelman, Council at the center for strategic and budgetary assessments, a Bulwark contributor and a non resident fellow at the Miller center. My normal partner in this enterprise Elliot Cohen, the Robert Eaz good of strategy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and the Arleigh Burke Chair and Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Is off vacationing somewhere in the Iberian Peninsula poor Elliott, but we have as our very special guest today former Supreme allied commander general, Philip breedlove. General breed love is, one of our most distinguished I would say military strategist.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:05
    In addition to having been the supreme allied commander, he was the commander of US Air Force is in Europe. He was the vice chief of staff of the Air Force. I first got to know him when he was the vice director of the, strategic plans office and the j five, of the joint chiefs of staff, and He I was privileged to have him as my wing man in more member more meetings of the deputies committee during the period from two thousand six to two thousand eight that either he or I would like to remember. He’s now a distinguished professor of practice at the Sam Nunn School at Georgia Tech, of which General breed Love is a proud graduate, General breed Love welcome the shield of the Republic.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:53
    Ambassador Aylman. Great to be back with you. I’ll add my one sent to that. I I learned a lot of lessons traveling to the White House with Ambassador Aileman, and I would just point out one funny moment that if you’ve ever been an investor Aidelman’s office, you understand that he is a man immensely organized in his head But sometimes the office doesn’t reflect that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:20
    That is a fair, a fair statement. I I think mostly what, you know, what you learned driving to the White House was me was how we could run red lights and get away with it in in Washington, DC. But Phil, really, it’s great to have you. And I I wanted to start out because of your knowledge and expertise, with NATO and European security, and I know you follow as Elliot and I do very closely what’s going on in Ukraine. What is your sense of the current state of play.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:52
    You see all these reports about the Russians, building up their forces, building up, armored forces, forty thousand troops to launch some kind of offensive in the sort of Kupyansk direction. What’s your sense of where where we are right now?
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:10
    So I think there are legitimate indications that Russia has aspirations of another offensive. I think there are also some pretty good indications that they have they have run into a bus saw in the last month month and a half and have suffered an attritional toll that that is staggering. So, I do believe there is more that they can call on I do not expect that these would be the very best trained and most capable troops, but they certainly will probably once again bring mass to the battlefield. And I don’t know how far you wanna go down this hole, but as we listen to what Ukraine is talking about, they are talking about moving to this sort of active, intelligent defense. They have numerous words they use, but it is it is a posture on the ground, and we need to talk about the sea in the air, that it is a posture on the ground that would better place them if Russia, launches another bus.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:29
    I mean, we’ve watched Abivka. We’ve we’ve watched Bakkud. We’ve watched several places where the Russians have thrown wave after wave of less capable fighters on the battlefield. And, if that’s in the any indication of what the next one will be like, I think the the Ukrainians are are happy to to to take this new posture. I think in their minds, they really wanna be on the offense.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:01
    And I think that maybe they will think beyond what happens in this next period where they’ll be more defensive. But, Russia has suffered quite the loss. Ukraine has taken some losses to more manageable numbers. But if you would allow me Just one moment to say that while Ukraine did come to a slower place in its advance on the ground, They did get on the left side or as you Americans would call it the east side of the river. In a couple of places, but but they, you know, their ground advance has largely, now become positional and is trans transferring to this defensive mode.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:48
    But we should acknowledge that without a single capital asset, I believe that Ukraine is is it’s a tough word, but may actually be winning the fight for the Northern Black Sea. We see Russia repositioning assets much further in the rear. We see assets that’ll never move from the peers. They are so severely damaged The Russians have turned the damage side against the pier, so you can’t see it. But the fact of the matter is some of those ships that are in in Ukraine are are are in crimea now are static displays, and they will be for a long time.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:29
    So So I think that they have made real measurable successes in the Bulwark sea. The the story of the air is a little different. Russia is doing a lot of damage with these long range missiles and long range drones. They are largely now Iranian or North Korean, kit. Some Russian kit clearly still.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:57
    But Russia is still doing a lot of damage with those. But that is the sum total right now of their real capability from the sky. The highly vaunted you and I used to worry about Russian air force has failed, I think, the country in in Ukraine. On the flip side, the Ukrainian started with a very meager air force, and and they have lost a lot of them, but may I just say that I thought I think they fought well and smart with what they had? And now the real innovation that’s happening in the air war in Ukraine is truly what the Ukrainians are doing with smaller closer drones.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:43
    First person video. You hear that term a lot now. Ukrainians are, honestly wreaking havoc along the front line trace of troops, with these with these this kit. And then in the bigger sense, some of their long range drones to include those at sea are really beginning to give Ukraine some reach. So Yes.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:09
    We have to say that the the Ukrainian offensive came to a halt I don’t like to use the word failed because of the the toll they expect executive from Russia but the Aaron C piece has gone, I would think, pretty well for Ukraine.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:29
    Yeah. I think people throw the word stalemate around in part, I think, because general’s illusiony, of course, kind of called it a stalemate in his economist essay, couple of months ago. And I think that, you know, sort of got this notion going. But as you say, the the battlefield is actually more complex and the attrition that the Ukrainians are, reeking on both, men and materiel on the Russian side is pretty as you were saying astounding, you know, around Avivka, what, you know, what I think you see over the last couple of weeks. Tell me if you disagree, but you you do see the Russians making some, you know, some very small gains But as you were saying with these astronomical costs attached to them, so, you know, there’s movement, but it’s, you know, movement you know, one or two tree lines at a time.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:25
    Literally, it’s like a hundred meters, two hundred meters, but the cost is just, you know, so enormous that it does raise the question of even if they launch an offensive and even as they appear to at least for the moment have a good considerable artillery advantage. You see numbers thrown around like five to one. They still have trouble, you know, moving forward in part because of what you were saying about the FPV drones and and things like that. Am I wrong there?
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:55
    No. No. You I think you’re exactly right. May I offer a thought? You know, people are beginning now to ask, what are the Russians doing?
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:04
    Because the to launch another massive offensive would be, I think, truly, a bridge too far. But but may I offer what is becoming in a thought for me and one or two others? And that is I think that mister Putin and Russia are beginning to realize that if Western support begins to drift in the wrong direction, and and Ukraine has to come to the table or the world begins to force them to come to the table. If you look at Russia’s frontline trace right now, It’s unmanageable, unmanageable for the long term because of the dents and curves in that frontline trace, either side could place artillery that would hold huge swaths of the other at bay and and at risk. And so I don’t know this.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:12
    This is Phil breedlove. Ed one or two of my best friends thinking about this. I believe they’re beginning to think about how to move that that line, that front line trace, to put it into a place that is manageable for the long term because they expect that the west is gonna put Ukraine in a position where they have to give away more land. To get peace. And Russia wants a frontline trace.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:44
    That is something that is militarily manageable in the out years. Does that make any sense at all?
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:51
    I think it does. I also think there’s a political calculation here, which the Russian election is coming up in March. Looks I was just reading in the financial times before we got on the air that the central election commission is now going to, apparently disqualify Mr. Boris Nadejdian and the opposition candidate who’s, unlikely and come somewhat hapless candidacy was generating actually a lot of public enthusiasm. So go figure it turns out that he doesn’t have enough signatures to to get on the ballot despite, you know, photo evidence of people queuing up for, you know, for hours to sign sign up for his petition.
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:32
    So I think there may be an element here as well of Putin wanting a battlefield victory before the election, you know, I think that maybe at work as well I wanna kind of, plumb your expertise, you know, not only as a former Saccurate, but as a former vice chief of staff of of the air force because there’s been a lot of debate about, the air piece of this As you say, the Russian air force is actually not, performed, as one might have expected given the advantages that they had when the war off. My my some, you know, surmise is that, they’re less formidable than they look. First all because they haven’t had a lot of flying time. You know, they’re they’re not, you know, not that proficient. And that they thought they would be able be able to eliminate, Ukraine’s air defenses, but the Ukrainians were actually very crafty about hiding and disguising those air defenses in the first, first few days of the war and therefore, being able to actually you know, hold the Russians at bay.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:45
    I mean, what what you see the Russians doing is basically flying in Russian airspace and firing standoff weapons.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:51
    Exactly.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:52
    At at Ukraine. And so the question is, you know, would f sixteens have made a difference? You know, I There’s a blame game that’s been going on. Some of our former colleagues in the Pentagon, I’ve heard it from them. You know, none of it would have made a difference.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:07
    Wouldn’t have made a difference if we gave them High Mars earlier, wouldn’t give made made a difference if we gave them more of the cluster attack wouldn’t have made a difference if we gave him, unitary warhead, long range attack, wouldn’t have made a difference if we gave him f sixteen. Is that what’s your sense of that? My sense is that’s blame shifting and, you know
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:29
    I’m in violent disagreement with almost every one of those things you said. Let’s give some real credit due to Jim Stafforditas before me. He started something that my headquarters finished. We he long before the first attacks in in fourteen Jim started a, a study of what it would take to bring the Ukrainian military into sort of more NATO compliance and make them a more Western group and and frankly, sir, the in fourteen, we already knew most of what we’re talking about now, what they need to be able to fight modern maneuver warfare, etcetera, etcetera. And we identified way back then.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:24
    Not f sixteens, you know, as a sec here, I couldn’t try to sell American kit. I said they needed four plus generation aircraft that can be multi role and do air defense until it’s not required and then roll into supporting the, army and I will tell you that if we had started in fourteen training and putting them into some fourth generation plane. You know, I love the F sixteen having flown it for twenty four years. If we had put them into an aircraft, and they had arrived at the beginning of this war with a squadron or two of very capable, f sixteen pilots, and f sixteen’s, it would have made a difference. I, you know, there’s a few things in this world I know a little bit about, and that’s one of them.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:18
    And and frankly, it it’s the same thing. We identified their our long range artillery problems. We identified, that they needed a better surface to air defense, but what we worked with them over the years is how to better use theirs, calling it the shell game. The Russians bombed a lot of spots that had nothing sitting on it because they had moved right before the the war started. They started the shell game with the assets they had.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:49
    So I I couldn’t, I couldn’t disagree more. If we had just looked at what we already knew, what we already knew they had, and we had worked on it Those things for the ten years here between these wars, it would have made a difference. They’re entitled, their opinion. I’m entitled to mine, and I think that it would have made a difference. May I just say one more thing about of questions?
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:17
    So so We, you know, two things and you mentioned them both. So I’m just gonna pile on your remarks. The Russians like to show the world their capability by buying shiny new kit. And they have some fairly good shiny new kit. They don’t have them in numbers, but they have some pretty good shiny new kit.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:45
    And you said it. They’re not flying in enough to be proficient in it. And then the second thing at the beginning of the war, we in the West. The first thing we think about is suppression of enemy air defenses so that we can begin to build and gain contain first local battlefield air superiority, and then grow that into larger air superiority. Or in two or three of our wars to air supremacy at some point.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:16
    And what we saw at the beginning of this war is Russia is one hundred percent completely incapable of doing seed suppression of enemy air defenses. In a small relatively unsophisticated Ukrainian network enabled by our intelligence. Let’s be clear about that. They were able to do this game and held a much superior, quote unquote, much superior air force at bay. And so, we need to remember those lessons We are already beginning to narrow down the flying time for our pilots.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:57
    We need to think about what that meant to Russia. And we need to remember that these old axioms were earned in blood, and we’ve got to be able to do seed. We have to project air power over our forces, and that takes knocking down their defenses. I think Russia failed at both.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:19
    Yeah. I know. I I I agree with you totally, and I found myself when I heard some of this, you know, discussion from my colleagues bristling a bit because, you know, the failure, if you wanna at that, the inability of the Ukrainians to break through these tiered layered defenses, which, in part because of our delays in the west getting equipment to the Ukrainians, and training them. You know, we we were in, in some sense, re responsible for that. And, we were asking them to do something, you know, combined arms warfare concentrated at key point to break through and then divide the Russian forces down in the land bridge there between, you know, Mario and Crimea, that we would never have done without, you know, air superiority or air supremacy.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:16
    Exactly. This this I had this discussion with a correspondent just two days ago. They were talking about how, well, it seems that we wasted money, teaching the conions how to do modern maneuver warfare. And, because they failed, and I said, they didn’t fail. We failed.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:36
    Let me tell you, just like you laid out, in our services, the first thing we do is intelligence, preparation, the battlefield, and then we begin a campaign of suppression of enemy air defenses to establish battlefield air superiority and everything in modern maneuver warfare relies on that. Think back. Ask someone sometimes. Do you remember how much stuff we piled up in the desert south of Kuwait before we went into Kuwait. Could we have done that if the Iraqi Air Force could have bombed it?
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:11
    Not only no, but you know what? No. You know? And so we did an extraordinary logistics build up because we had air supremacy by that time and we knew that we could store in the open, open all this kit. To go forward.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:28
    Everything we do in the west starts first with air superiority over our troops.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:35
    As we’re having this discussion, the Congress is considering, a supplemental, bill to provide a couple of things, additional aid to Ukraine, some additional aid to our, Israeli friends as they’re pursuing a destruction of Hamas and Gaza, and some additional defense capability in the Pacific as well as part of this all wrapped up together with, an effort to strengthen, the security of our own border in the south, which is obviously a very big issue, but and a very real issue. Right now, the prospects for the supplemental, don’t look great. We’ve got the House of Representatives saying that, they won’t even take the bill up that it’s dead on arrival as the speaker, has said. He said it was the bill that actually emerged from all these negotiations was worse than he anticipated, although I don’t I don’t know how it could have been worse because he said it was gonna be dead on arrival for it even emerged. Anyway, I don’t wanna drag you into the political thicket, but if if this assistance doesn’t, get passed.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:46
    I mean, I noticed one of the things in the bill is, a big chunk of money to help the Department of Defense get production of one five five artillery rounds up to the hundred thousand level that build the plant the undersecretary for acquisition is trying to get it to with our defense industry partners. That’s, of course, you know, one way to help solve this problem of the imbalance between Russian and Ukrainian artillery ammunition magazines, and the depth, thereof, without this supplemental, What is your sense of what the impact will be on on the battlefield we’ve just been discussing?
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:32
    So I I’d like to start the answer with a twenty second vignette, and that is that I’m often asked, how is this war gonna end? And my answer has surprised some and has, I wouldn’t say infuriated, but made some angry. Because I say it every time. And that is this war is going to end exactly like Western policy makers one at the end. Western policy will drive the end of this war.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:06
    If we withdraw the funding from Ukraine. Ukraine will fight valiantly Tens of thousands of Ukrainians will die, and Russia will subjugate Ukraine. If we do nothing different than we’re doing now. And this is very critical. I’m not being critical of a person, but I’m being critical of a policy.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:29
    I believe our policy right now is to give Ukraine enough to remain viable on the battlefield, but not not enough to win. Our nation’s leaders right now, I believe, are incapable of mentally dealing with a defeated Russia or a defeated Putin and what that might entail. And so we have self deterred, and we are not giving Ukraine what it needs to lens. So if we stay in this position over time, Ukraine will come to a culminating point, or the West will tire and stop supplying and you get the same result as number one. Russia will win and subjugate the rest of Ukraine.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:17
    Now my third one is bold, but I believe it. And that is if we give Ukraine what they need to win, they’ll win. And people ask me, okay. Well, what is it? And they want a silver bullet.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:31
    It’s the f sixteen. Or it’s this or it’s that. And I’ve and I I basically answer the same way every time now. If you give Ukraine, What the United States of an of America would take to the battlefield if this was our fight. Give them that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:48
    They will win. You know, airplanes and dams to establish battlefield air superiority, long range strike. And the policy to strike Russia before it can bring all this kit to bear. That’s one of the big problems that you didn’t mention a minute ago when you know, Russia’s got all this stuff that they’re piled up for this offensive, they say, and it’s sitting there. And we forbid Ukraine from shooting in there with our kit to destroy it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:18
    We would be striking that before it came across the border. We would be I get in on all the lines of communications, and we forbid Ukraine from doing that. So, just say one more time, this war and exactly how Western policy makers decide it will end. And in the short term, to your question, If we begin now to pull down that support, the first impact is on the soldiers on the battlefield of Ukraine. They’re looking up for their cover.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:52
    Okay? And they start to see it erode. Now I applaud the EU for it’s, it’s it’s, promised to support. I think it was fifty billion billion euro. This is good.
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:07
    But if the United States starts pulling back, donors from around the world will start to pull back. And then as I said, we end up with option one as I described it. Before. This is not a good place to be. We need to sort this out.
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:21
    You talk to people on the hill. I won’t use any names, but they, you know, they say, hey, this is a tool. Right now, we’re using this tool to get change on the border. Once we hit the change on the border, we’ll get back to Well, the question is, how long does that take? And what is the impact on Ukraine in the meantime?
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:41
    And and that’s something that I think history may judge us harshly for.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:46
    Yeah. I quite I quite agree. One of the things that has inhibited the Biden administration from providing as much stuff as soon as it was needed and titrating out, you know, this assistance in small dribs and drabs. I mean, one example of that is the when we finally gave the Ukrainians a few months ago, you know, some cluster munitions variant of the, attack them missile. Not not the long range one, but the shorter range one with the cluster munitions.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:23
    Those munitions were used very effectively by the Ukrainians to kill a lot of KA fifty two helicopters, which had been one of the rotary wing assets the Russians had used to help thwart the, land advance by the u, Ukrainians, in the south and zaporisia. So, you know, shame on us, I think, for having done that. I mean, by the way, most I’ve said this on the podcast before, but most of those cluster variant of the attack, violate the US policy for cluster munitions. They’ve got a dud rate of over three percent. So the odds that we would actually use them, we would have to be really in extremis
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:03
    I don’t think we would have ever used those things.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:06
    So, you know, it’ll cost us more to demilitarize them than it will to send them to the Ukrainians and So it drives me crazy.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:13
    But I and I’m told, sir, that we have almost a thousand rounds of the very first batches of the high explosive unitary warhead that you described, that we’re gonna end up demilling. And why aren’t we giving those to Ukraine?
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:29
    Those are gonna be, by the way, replaced by the prism missile, which is in development now soon anyway. So it wouldn’t be giving away any qualitative US military advantage. But to your point earlier, general breed love about the hesitation to provide Ukraine with the ability to strike along its own border inside Russia where Russia is staging military equipment and munitions in order to attack Ukraine. The the Ukrainians have been, you know, essentially forbidden to use our kit to do that. I think the argument I think it’s wrong headed, but it’s an escalation, management argument.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:17
    Which is if we give them kit, they strike Russian territory with, that will allow Putin to say you know, that, he’s at war with NATO rather than with Ukraine. But if you watch Russian television, And if you listen to what Putin says, there are already and what Shoyegu and Garasimov when he was appearing on TV alone, he hasn’t appeared for about a month. I’m not sure where he is, but, but, if you listen to that, they’re all saying that they’re at war with NATO anyway. So, you know, I, you know, I don’t see, frankly, what the benefit is of holding back. I I could see that you would say don’t hit Moscow.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:58
    Don’t hit you know, downtown Saint Petersburg, but why you would, you know, be so concerned about this, particularly given the fact that at each turn, we were told that, you know, providing m one Abrams tanks would be a red line for Russia. We were told that providing them with long range artillery the High Mars system would be a a red line for Russia. We’re told f sixteens would be a red line for Russia. All these things have been given to Ukraine and, you know, nothing nothing has changed in terms of the fight. So I, you know, am I wrong to think that this is a pretext rather than a a real
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:36
    I’m I’m with you. And I I would also add a couple other lines of logic here. When we have given them some of these newer weapons, we gave them strict instructions about what not to do with them. They have been incredibly compliant. They know they can’t bite the hand that feeds.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:56
    I think we’ve had one US humvee drive in up there in in belarus and was a part of an attack up there. And and then we got that sorted out, but to the largest almost one hundred percent case, the Ukraine have followed the restrictions that we’ve given them with these missiles. But I think it’s just preposterous. I tell people all the time. If, you know, secretary Austin, as you remember, was my peer when I was a senior, he was a sitcom commander.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:28
    And if we’d have told, general Lloyd Austin, that he is going to have to deal with strikes from his enemy coming from nearly three hundred degrees around into the centcom AOR. But he couldn’t shoot back at them with his long range artillery. His head would have exploded. Okay? And that’s what we’ve told Ukraine.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:52
    You are Roger federer, and you’re gonna receive serve for the entire French Open because we’re not gonna allow you to serve back. And this is preposterous. And so I think that developing a a policy under which Ukraine could use these weapons and the types of targets they could strike. You would see just the same discipline that they used in firing these, cluster, atackems, the short range atackems. And and, I I just really have a a hard time here.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:28
    I think, again, we we have self deterred in in, the options that would give Ukraine the ability to do significant damage because we’re afraid of what that significant damage would mean. In a policy sense.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:47
    You you’ve mentioned the European assistance, and I agree with you. I’m, you know, very great our European colleagues, first of all, for getting around the, blockage that, the hungarians under, under Orban had imposed on assistance from the EU. They seem to have, you know, navigated that particular, challenge But, you know, we were talking earlier about the difficulty bill the plant is having getting the US defense industrial base to the point where it can produce a hundred thousand rounds a month, you know, you know, the Ukrainians were firing six, but, you know, six thousand a day. Back in the summer when they, had a steady, you know, flow of munitions, the Europeans have promised a million rounds of ammunition, but they’re way behind in part because their defense industrial base is in even worse shape than ours and suffering from even longer decades of neglect, you know, than ours has been. What do you think the, you know, assuming we don’t get the supplemental, what what is your judgment about the degree to which Europeans can step up and and fill the gap.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:07
    I mean, you you said rightly in my view that if we don’t, you know, if we’re not gonna do this, ultimately, there will be a decline in European support. I do think there could be an initial effort by the Europeans to fill the gap. But what’s what’s your sense of how well they look?
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:24
    So I I think, there’s good news and there’s bad news here. The the good news is that I believe we’ve seen a true and I believe somewhat lasting change of heart, change of approach by the Europeans. I don’t know if you’ve seen the charts, but in a per capita by GDP basis, We’re like fourteenth on the list of of donators these days. And and I believe now that the sum total of Europe is now eclipsed US giving. So so we’re we’re seeing a changing here that is good.
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:02
    But, that industrial piece, there are actually some nations who have a little bit more of a command connect in between their government and their their national companies such that they’re a little quicker to react than we are in our paradigm in the United States. And and even in there, we’re seeing some goodness. But the scale that Europe can offer right now is not going to answer the call. Frankly, the scale in America is not gonna answer the call. Until we figure out how to build excess capacity under the current, FARs and so forth.
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:44
    We we’ve got a ways to go as well. So, while I am happy as to the change of direction of the Europeans. I’m not saying when that they’re gonna be able to create the capacity. We would have a problem creating the same capacities.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:04
    Yeah. The FARs being the federal acquisition regulations.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:07
    Oh, I’m sorry. Sorry.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:09
    No. That’s okay. I just want to let our listeners, you know, know what we’re talking about. But but yeah. I mean, those are regulations and those are processes and procedures that are, you know, finally tuned, for, you know, producing military goods in peacetime.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:25
    But, you know, we we are we’re a nation right now with, you know, with associated, friends who are fighting two active wars. So, and and we’re staring at the prospect of a of a third, which might involve us directly in the Indo Pacific And so the idea that we can just continue to meander along under these sort of, you know, peacetime processes, I think is
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:53
    And if I could, I think we need to learn a lesson for the future. And that is, we we have a system now that will literally punish a manufacturer if they use money from a contract to create excess capacity. And that all happened for reasons that we know. You know, there are some guys that did bad things in the past. And we created these FARs and others that closely control that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:23
    We have to go back and rethink how do we incentivize industry to create and maintain a certain amount of excess capacity? And sometimes it’s not about the assembly line. It’s about the people, the skilled labor that work on the assembly line. And so, I just I just throw out there that I think when we get around to the lessons learned of this period we’re in now. We have got to rethink what we do in our military, industrial governmental, arrangements.
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:02
    So that we are not flat footed the next time we need it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:06
    Yeah. If you talk to anybody in industry, they will tell you, you know, basically two things. One is they need to be able to, have some sense that before they expand the physical plant to produce these things, that there’s gonna be a steady demand signal because they don’t wanna invest a lot of money pouring concrete and building facilities, and then get told, oh, yeah. Well, this was just a one year supplemental. And after that, you know, that’s the end of the road.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:35
    And the other is what you were pointing to, general breed love, which is a big, big obstacle of probably the longest poll in the tent for industry, which is bringing on skilled skilled labor. Maybe we have a shortage of, you know, welders and electricians. And, oh, by the way, there is in the, in this supplemental legislation there is money to help, build up our submarine industrial base so that we can actually meet the obligations. We’ve undertaken under August, to, you know, help our Australian and UK allies out, but I I wonder if we could turn for a moment from your, you know, perspective as a former supreme allied commander in Europe. What do you see as the potential consequences going forward of defeat.
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:30
    I mean, you were you said in the long run, if we don’t step up, you know, Russia will end up dominating, Ukraine What are the consequences for European security? And what do you see as the knock on consequences more broadly, in the rest of the world?
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:47
    So this is a very, complicated problem. And I’m gonna say it’s part of the problem starts in that I do not believe that our current, leadership in Washington has explained to America why Ukraine counts. Why it’s important that Ukraine is a functioning part of society into the future. Most, you know, I love our country. I come from a place we call the Redneck Raveriara.
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:22
    You know, we got a lot of people out there that don’t, couldn’t put their finger on Crimea on a map. And don’t understand the contributions of Ukraine to the world. Some got a taste of it when the food when the grain supply slowed down with what happened to the food supplies and the cost of things started going up big time Oh, my god. I didn’t realize Ukraine had such an impact. Very few people understand that almost every medium earth orbit or high earth orbit or moonshot we did for several decades flew on Ukrainian rocket motors.
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:03
    And so there there is all manner of things that people don’t understand that Ukraine is a highly technical functioning part of the European economy. The European economy is still almost fifty percent of our GDP. Their economy is important to us, and isolationism is not gonna fix that problem. We have to remain connected. And so we have to start off by explaining to Americans why Ukraine counts.
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:38
    And for all those reasons, if Ukraine goes back to Russia, so so how fast do you think rebuilding in Ukraine is gonna happen if Russia is running the show. How fast do you think all those hundreds of thousands of minds that Russia has put into the field will come out. They salted large swaths of agricultural land, There are minds all over the battlefields and and the shaping of the battlefields out there. And even if the whole Western world focuses on that, it’s gonna take a long time. But with the economy Russia has and its capability now, How fast is that gonna happen?
  • Speaker 1
    0:43:25
    Are they gonna build a Bricks community that’s gonna come in and invest in Ukraine and and pick up the minds and so forth. So, you know, a defeat to me means a loss of an important industrial partner, a loss of an incredible agricultural partner, And frankly, for a military person, a loss of a geostrategic important part of the world in how, Europe defends itself into the future. Sir, I know you read those two articles that mister Putin gave us to sign. I think he actually called them treaties at the beginning of the war about eight or nine days before the war started. If you read those papers, It is very clear that Ukraine is the start of this campaign.
  • Speaker 1
    0:44:22
    It is much bigger than in Ukraine. And I don’t know if you agree with me or not, but the gray zone battle going on in Georgia right now is pretty evident what Russia is trying to do. And I recently spent time with a foreign minister of Moldova, and what’s going on in that country is pretty straightforward. So Ukraine is not only it’s bigger than Ukraine, but it’s already functioning in a in a non kinetic way and two other countries. And so in the future without Ukraine as a part of a Bulwark, whether it’s in you and NATO or not, if it is Russian, it’s a big problem in that sense.
  • Speaker 1
    0:45:05
    So I think they’re literally all three of those venues is a loss of Ukraine is a huge problem.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:15
    No. I I completely agree. If you go back and look at, those documents that, Sergei leverov gave to Tony Blinking, they basically call for, a rollback of all of NATO enlargement going back to nineteen ninety seven.
  • Speaker 1
    0:45:31
    Exactly.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:31
    And, and, and, and creating essentially a privilege sphere of influence for Russia in central, and and eastern Europe. And I, you know, One thing that worries me is that I don’t think Americans appreciate that as much as you and I have discussed the losses Russia has taken, and they’ve been, it it really quite, you know, astonishing in terms of you know, three hundred thousand casualties. I mean, you know, I think you and I would have said, okay, that, you know, Russians Will Saletan, osta, you know, we’ve had enough at that point. But What what is striking to me is that Putin has been successful in putting Russia’s economy on a completely war footing. You know, twenty four seven, three shifts a day of defense production.
  • Speaker 2
    0:46:20
    The budget’s now forty percent devoted to defense. It’s, producing a lot of stuff. I mean, it’s not, you know, great quality stuff. It’s not notwithstanding what Putin said recently about how great Russian stuff is. I mean, it’s not as good as our stuff, but it’s sufficient, you know, to the task.
  • Speaker 2
    0:46:45
    And, you know, if they’re dealing with something that is less challenging than biting off a kind of thousand mile front in in Ukraine. Which is as you were saying earlier has stretched Russian forces very thin. By the way, we had we had a Australian historian David Stahl, who has written a number of histories of the eastern front, you know, had had the Russians actually gone back and studied their own military they might have realized they were putting themselves in the same position the Wehrmacht was in when it invaded the Soviet Union in nineteen forty one. But be that as it may, I worry that if you get them concentrating their forces, in the Bulwark, say, where They have interior lines of communication where they have, potentially, you know, some fifth column assets they could draw on where they can concentrate their forces in places that are very geographically compact unlike Ukraine. That in four or five years, you know, they can, you know, reconstitute and provide a very, very serious threat.
  • Speaker 2
    0:47:57
    To our, you know, NATO treaty allies, and and then we’ll really be up against the escalation dynamic because we’ll be wrestling with an article five situation. I don’t know if you agree with that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:48:09
    No. I do. I I would I and I kinda also add to that to that line of thought that war is not a business. Okay? It’s not a business.
  • Speaker 1
    0:48:19
    But if we examine our investment to date, Most people say about four and a half percent of one year of DOD budget. And the impact that the Ukrainians have made on the Russian military for that for that investment, it’s it’s staggering. But none of that obviates what you talked about, which is Russia can still, as you, you know, Germany, you gotta love it. Interior lines. They can they still are set to be able to rapidly assemble force even if they are secondary level forces and lesser trained mass has its own beauty, does it, especially against a Bulwark target.
  • Speaker 1
    0:49:04
    And so they are not out of the game no matter how badly they’ve been, they’ve been hammered during this war so far. And it it bears us I fear that at some point here, people feel that Ukraine will have to go to the table, give away more Ukrainian lives, and more Ukrainian land, for our safety. And then we all get back to how do we enjoy our peace dividends slow down all is concerned. We need to be very laser focused on, there is a lot of work that remains to be done by the problems that have been exposed by this conflict. And if we don’t have a commission or someone, or NATO, or EU that is focused on, we got a punch list now that cannot be dropped because we’ve stopped, quote, unquote, the conflict.
  • Speaker 1
    0:50:12
    And I would ask you if you really believe if we stopped this month, if that’s the last time Russia goes across a line in Ukraine.
  • Speaker 2
    0:50:21
    We will be hearing from our Russian friends again. I’m afraid. It’s less than I’ve drawn from all of this. We have just a few minutes. General breed love before we wrap up, and I I do wanna ask you, if you would, you know, maybe share some thoughts with us.
  • Speaker 2
    0:50:40
    Israel used to be in the, area of responsibility has now been transferred over to centcom, which probably makes a little bit more sense, but you you know the Israeli military, no the IDF, you know, the commanders, you know, and you know what they’re up against because you spend a lot of your career as I did mine. In the post nine eleven wars against, terrorist organizations, like, Hamas. What’s your sense of how how it’s going? I mean, this has been a, I mean, Elliot was in Israel a couple of months ago and reported back to our listeners about the incredible trauma that Israeli society suffered on October seventh equivalent of roughly about if it were as if forty thousand Americans had been killed on nine eleven rather than three thousand What’s your sense of how it’s going and how do you think, that conflict ends?
  • Speaker 1
    0:51:39
    This is probably the worst conundrum that the leadership of Israel has never faced. You know the very senior leadership better than I, but Benny Gantz and those guys who I worked with I know them as extremely well. And I can’t imagine facing what they’re facing, which is They’ve got a real enemy that they’ve gotta deal with, and that real enemy has lashed out at them and proven that they can still completely, upend security inside of Israel. And so they’ve got that problem to deal with. But the the other side of the coin is that the world, is moving to a position where, Israel will begin to lose support, I think, in a drastic way if if they, and I will just use the pronoun.
  • Speaker 1
    0:52:41
    We don’t, find a a better solution fast. And so, I just one more minute of preparation for the story. I I remember the first time I was taken up on the Golan Heights and looked at the problem through that huge, telescope. You know, they got up there at o p one. And I remember the first time I flew my f sixteen over the Dead Sea.
  • Speaker 1
    0:53:11
    And I’m looking at Jordan, and I’m looking at the coastline. And I really began to understand what Israel calls a lack of strategic debt. Their strategic issue is more acute than I think any country in the world when it comes to geography. And so, This is all to prepare you for what I think is is tough words, but I believe Israel’s got to be allowed. To eliminate the issue.
  • Speaker 1
    0:53:47
    But I think it needs to happen quickly because right now in the grand scheme of things, the damage that is being done to Israel in the eyes of the world is gonna be a real problem in the future.
  • Speaker 2
    0:54:03
    Hard to disagree with that. I’m delighted to have had, general Phil breedlove as our special guest today on, shield of the Republic. We didn’t even get to the Indo Pacific. General breed love, but, there’s a lot going on in the world, and so I hope we can have you back. Hopefully, have you back when, Elliot is, you know, not, not, touristing around some of the nicer you know, garden spots of Europe.
  • Speaker 2
    0:54:31
    And, thank you for joining us today on shield of the Republic.
  • Speaker 1
    0:54:35
    Great to be on with you again, sir.