Army Ready to Help Israel with Lessons from Ukraine

Army Ready to Help Israel with Lessons from Ukraine

Douglas Bush, Assistant Secretary of the Army, speaks during the Contemporary Military Forum during the AUSA 2023 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., Monday, Oct. 9, 2023. (Tasos Katopodis for AUSA)
Photo by: Tasos Katopodis for AUSA

As a new unprovoked invasion ignites war in the Middle East, the U.S. Army is watching—and it’s better prepared to assist now than it was two years ago.

That’s the message from Douglas Bush, assistant Army secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology. Speaking Oct. 9 at the Association of the U.S. Army’s 2023 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., Bush hailed the transformation that has taken place within Army acquisition in the past year, motivated by the urgent need to support Ukraine in its defensive war against Russia. 

“It’s been a big year,” Bush said, pointing to the thousands of missiles, hundreds of vehicles and millions of artillery shells the Army has provided to Ukraine, and $25 billion worth of contracting in less than a year to replace those supplies. Beyond that, he added, the service reached numerous internal acquisition milestones, including full-rate production for the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle and the Integrated Battle Command System; key down-selects for programs including the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft; and the rollout of the Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army.

In moving to develop and field warfighting gear faster than the historic norm—the XM7 assault rifle, he said, is expected to enter production just under four years from the start of that acquisition program—Bush said the Army is proving its capability as “the arsenal of democracy” and answering criticisms about its ability to conduct acquisition at the speed of warfare.

“The way you change a narrative is to show you can do it,” Bush said, adding that “the Ukraine war has shown how fast we can go.”

As the Army continues to provide materiel support to Ukraine and works to accelerate the purchasing and delivery of systems, Bush acknowledged the three-day-old conflict unfolding in Israel, following the Oct. 7 invasion by Palestinian militant group Hamas, saying the service was prepared to send military aid there too, if called upon. 

“If Israel needs additional support as well, we’re ready and standing by in the Army to help them,” he said.

Gen. James Rainey, commanding general of Army Futures Command, said the Army has benefited from having “lessons learned” collection teams on the ground in Ukraine since before Russia’s invasion in February 2021 closely observing the conflict. In addition to insights about the changing nature of warfare, how it’s demanding more speed, autonomy and smart weaponry, Rainey said, the war has shown that some things remain the same: war continues to be about the human actors and decision-makers at its core. And, Rainey said, the Army's formations and NCO corps continue to be “the envy of the world.”

“The tragedy that’s been unfolding in Ukraine … and now in the Middle East for the last 72 hours, I think we have a moral responsibility to do everything we can to learn from that,” Rainey said.

Meanwhile, Bush said, the Army expects to get faster still, with aid from Congress and industry.

The Army is in an “aggressive testing campaign” aimed at getting its much-anticipated long-range hypersonic weapon fielded by the start of 2024, and it has fielded its first operational Strategic Mid-Range Fires battery, equipped with ground-launched Tomahawk and SM-6 missiles, he said.

Among the emergent efforts that Army acquisition leaders expect to set new speed standards are a move to equip Army formations with loitering munitions, also known as kamikaze drones, which, with their autonomous elements and ability to improve targeting reaction time, will make the elements “much more capable,” Bush said.

Bush hailed new congressional authorities enabling flexibility and speed in purchasing and fielding, but also said the Army needs more permissions to engage in multiyear contracting activity for equipment including Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System shells and PAC-3 Patriot missiles.

Another panelist, General Dynamics President of Ordnance and Tactical Systems Firat Gezen, described the work the company has done to meet the urgent demands of the Ukraine conflict with a doubled research and development budget and a sixfold increase in production capacity for the artillery components that the war requires.

“A lot of people are talking about artillery acceleration around the world, but the U.S. is doing it,” Gezen said. “Nobody is doing it at the rate and at the speed that the U.S. is doing it, and it’s all because of the partnerships we have within industry and beyond.”

Hope Hodge Seck for AUSA