Wormuth: Army Must Learn from War in Ukraine

Wormuth: Army Must Learn from War in Ukraine

Army Secretary Christine Wormuth visits troops in Europe.
Photo by: U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Keisha Brown

Lessons from the war in Ukraine could help the U.S. Army better prepare for the future battlefield, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said.

Speaking June 28 at the Royal United Services Institute’s 2022 Land Warfare Conference in London, Wormuth said the service is committed to learning with “humility and seriousness.”

“I think future success on the battlefield may well depend on us having a very clear-eyed look at what lessons there are to be learned,” she said.

She also said the Army must ask itself “really probing questions” and not view the war as “a sort of opportunity to confirm what we’re already doing and to pat ourselves on the back.”

Already, some of Russia’s early failures in Ukraine have underscored the importance of leadership, discipline and training, Wormuth said. They also have emphasized the crucial role played by the U.S. Army’s NCO corps, she said.

“There is a direct correlation between the quality of our NCO corps and the level of training and discipline in our U.S. Army ranks,” Wormuth said.

The Russians also have struggled to “adapt and show initiative at the tactical level,” and they also have struggled with logistics and sustainment, Wormuth said.

“You can be the best-equipped military in the world, but if you can’t sustain your forces, it doesn’t matter,” she said.

Strengthening the U.S. Army’s logistics capabilities is something the service is focused on, Wormuth said. “As the battlefield becomes more transparent, supply lines and stockpiles are going to be more tempting as lucrative targets,” she said. “As a result of that, we have to not just be writing new concepts about logistics, we need to be training and exercising in a way that reflects the fact that we understand that logistics will be contested.”

The importance of secure communications and the rising threat of unmanned aerial vehicles also are concerns, Wormuth said, adding that the Army is “deeply committed” to working with its allies and partners to continue assisting Ukraine in defending itself as well as helping defend “every inch of NATO territory.”

Wormuth, who has extensive experience in the Defense Department, said the Russian military has shown in the past that it learns from its failures. “I would expect that they will reconstitute in a new, improved way in the coming years,” she said.

During her keynote speech, Wormuth also emphasized the importance of ground forces in “achieving decisive victory in conflicts.”

“The wars of the future are not going to be fought in one or two domains and are not going to be fought by one or two services,” she said. “They are going to be fought across multiple domains. They will require a joint force to prevail on the battlefield, and it will require a combined joint force.”