Uk defense secretary Ben Wallace has said that Ukraine tragically serves as an experimentation ground for war technology
He made the statement ahead of the release of an updated defense Command Paper, which was initially published before the war began.
Ben Wallace mentioned that the effectiveness of weapons provided to Ukraine by the UK and other allies significantly influenced the revisions.
“We would be unwise not to learn from these lessons and implement them in our own armed forces,” he stated.
Revised UK defense strategy
The revised paper, first released in 2021, outlines the UK’s plan to invest an additional £2.5 billion in defense spending. Mr. Wallace acknowledged that the government did not anticipate issuing a new version so soon, but global events have changed, becoming more unpredictable.
“The war in Ukraine has brought focus because there is a real adversary, aggressive, disregarding all rules of war in Europe, and fighting a war aimed at destroying a country. This makes us realize that we must change our risk appetite from the original paper. We initially planned to take things out of service, leaving a gap in the middle of the decade, and then introducing new equipment. But that’s something I no longer want to risk,” Mr. Wallace stated.
The experience of Ukraine’s armed forces and the assistance provided by allies, including quick adaptations of existing equipment to suit Kyiv’s requirements, play a significant role in the updated paper.
The document highlights the need for quicker innovation, and it emphasizes that the traditional, lengthy programs to acquire equipment cannot keep pace with the rate of change.
Additionally, it underlines the importance of harnessing cutting-edge technologies like AI and quantum computing to enhance the agility and adaptability of the UK’s armed forces.
“New technologies are not just gimmicks; they are fundamentally crucial to modern warfare,” said Mr. Wallace.
The paper also introduces flexible career paths for personnel, allowing experience in other fields before rejoining.
The UK government will also spend £400 million to upgrade service family accommodations, reallocating funds from the defense budget.
Mr. Wallace also spoke about the importance of electronic warfare in light of the lessons from the Ukrainian war.
“The use of electronic warfare, both for deception and defense, has become increasingly important, and it has moved up the priority list,” he said.
Modernizing UK artillery and concerns over defense plans
The war in Ukraine has also prompted a reconsideration of “deep fire” artillery, leading to the decision to retire old 155mm guns and adopt new replacements with an extended range of 60km compared to the previous 22-25km.
Ukraine’s conflict has helped to shape UK’s artillery strategy, aiding the rebalancing of UK’s artillery forces.
Regarding the plan, the opposition Labour party questioned whether it was cost-driven or based on actual threats. They also wondered how long the plan would last considering Mr. Wallace’s forthcoming departure from the position.
Mr. Wallace played a significant role in the UK’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Due to boundary changes, he won’t seek a new seat as his parliamentary constituency is set to disappear.
The defense secretary aims to leave a positive impact, acknowledging Prime Minister Rishi Sunak left a substantial £24 billion legacy.
He also emphasized the importance of Ukraine’s conflict as a reminder of potential threats to the UK and its allies.