Conversations about contemporary warfare and what it means for the future of fighting. Each episode will look at how wars are being fought around the world toda... More
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A Russian Lake no more?
The Black Sea has been called a Russian lake before. Perhaps it was again after 2008: Russia used the Black Sea for its invasion of Georgia, as a key avenue for attack during the annextion of Crimea (2014), for actions in Syria (2015 onwards), and for the latest attacks on Ukraine (starting in 2022). Yet despite a burgeoning military presence, the Black Sea is now a leading stage for competition between regional powers - not just Russia and Ukraine, but also Turkey, Georgia, Bulgaria and Romania too. Indeed, Turkey plays a really significant role both at sea and ashore, able to act as a regulator on Russian military activities at sea - but this is best done in concert with NATO and the EU. Natia Seskuria, founder and executive director of the Regional Institiute for Security Studies, talks to Peter about Russia's aspirations in the Black Sea, and is still able to "walk and chew gum" in the region. Natia talks about what sort of 'grey zone' activity Moscow continues to engage in, how effective it is, and what measures could be taken to counter Russia - if the West really wanted to.
The new European military heavyweight
Poland is an outlier in Europe: a state that has been willing to resource the national security statements of political leaders made in 2022, and cognisant of observations about high intensity combat being seen in Ukraine after the latest Russian invasion. Unlike other European capitals, Warsaw has funded a recapitalisation of its military based on a philosophy that puts aside a promsied future of military nirvana, replacing it with a pragmatic approach towards the good enough. Sound contracting for specific items, mainly from the US and South Korea, has ordered an impressive list of equipment, with additional equipment being lined up - all with a keen eye on the soverign benefit of onshoring production. And the contrast to the modest plans of Germany, France or the UK is stark. Yesterday I had the pleasure to talk to Jakub Knopp, a young researcher who has recently published an excellent article on this topic. Jakub was also cautious in his assessment of the costs of these acquisitions over the next decade. It was a pragmatic and revealing insight into the differences between Poland and their geographic neighbour, Germany.
What's not being covered, defence reviews, and the future
One year on from starting the podcast, the production team persuaded me to answer some of the most popular questions that get sent into the show. In this episode we cover the three top issues posed to us: (1) What havent we covered that is important and why? (2) Are the latest set of Defence Reviews any good? (3) what are Western states learning from Ukraine? and (4) What is exciting over the coming months? Do keep sending your questions in to us by text, email or @TMWpodcasts
The Credibility of NATO depends on DEAD
Even as Russia rebuilds its way of fighting and combat power over the next 3-5 years, those forces should be easily overmatched by NATO (on paper at least) in combat operations provided Russian air and missile defences can be destroyed. The package to do that, according to Professor Justin Bronk of RUSI, is quite within European states ability to deliver: allowing them to then fight the air-to-air battle, and deliver decisive combat power on the ground. Yet it is quite hard to detect any urgency in various capitals to take this task in hand – to buy the munitions needed, and make time for the training to do the most challenging of tasks in the air power handbook: SEAD and DEAD. The alternative, a dispersal concept of operations, simply isn’t affordable for most European powers based on the aircraft they operate and (more importantly) the support systems they don’t possess in sufficient quantities to make workable. There are difficult decisions to be made about what the priorities are with limited resources - and there is a sense they are being fudged. We all probably need to question whether those decisions are being made or simply deferred – again and again – in favour of focusing on something decidedly more photogenic.
Evacuation Operations, Decisions, and Compression
Even planning a non-combatant evacuation operation is politically and diplomatically fraught – the signals it sends to a host country are rarely desirable. Yet somehow embassy staff around the world build contingencies for the unexpected. And they are – sometimes – needed, as we have seen over the past two weeks in Sudan. Peter Talks to Ewan Lawson, a former NEO planner for the British military and Senior Associate Fellow at RUSI, about the realities of this type of operation, about the decision-making and trust placed in people, and about the unsung heroes who rarely get recognised.
Conversations about contemporary warfare and what it means for the future of fighting. Each episode will look at how wars are being fought around the world today, whether (and why) this is important, and what it all might mean for militaries and national security in the coming decades.