US military assistance to Ukraine: The backstory

Webinar · 28.04.2023 16:00 - 17:00

Friday 28 April 2023, at 16:00-17:00 EEST/15:00-16:00 CEST

General Omar Bradley, a storied World War II US Army commander in Europe, reputedly once observed that “amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics”. As the Russian invasion on Ukraine drags on, the wisdom of this adage still applies. Debates over each side’s war aims or operational strategy have their place. But the conflict is taking on many characteristics of a “war of attrition”, such as entrenched forces, sustained artillery barrages, and relatively minor advances won at a high cost in dead and wounded. Thus, the long-term capabilities of each side to equip, train, and support its forces while providing the requisite leadership skills and “will to fight” will be decisive factors in determining the outcome. 

The capabilities of Ukraine remain heavily dependent on Western –especially US – military assistance. Headline-grabbing stories about the cost (some $38 billion committed by the Biden Administration since February 2022) or the discussion on whether to provide Ukraine a certain weapons “platform”, however, miss the complexity of the US decision-making process on what materiel to provide to Ukraine. Americans must consider how to deliver the materiel, train Ukrainian personnel to maintain, employ and integrate it with many other weapons systems, and provide intelligence support. All this must be accomplished while coordinating with NATO Allies and other Western partners.    

This episode of Transatlantic Currents explores the current and looming future challenges of US policymakers and defense planners as they look to bolster Ukrainian defenses for “as long as it takes”.


Opening remarks

Charly Salonius-Pasternak

Leading Researcher, FIIA

Charly Salonius-Pasternak is a Leading Researcher at FIIA and leads the work of the Center on US Politics and Power (CUSPP). His work at FIIA focuses on international security issues, especially Nordic and transatlantic security (including NATO), as well as U.S. foreign and defence policy. Recently he has focused on Finnish-Swedish defence cooperation and the evolution of US and NATO alliance reassurance approaches in light of the changed regional security situation. In 2017, he was a visiting research fellow at the Changing Character of War programme at Pembroke College (Oxford University), where he studied the hybridization of warfare and the impact of the Information Age on the character of war.


Dr. Jeffrey McCausland

CEO, Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy

Dr. Jeffrey McCausland is the founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy. Diamond6 conducts executive leadership development workshops for public education institutions, US government departments and agencies, non-profit organizations, and corporations across the United States. He also is a Visiting Professor of International Security at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and a national security affairs consultant and commentator for the CBS television and radio networks.

Dr. McCausland is a retired Colonel (US Army). His 34-year military career included a variety of command and staff positions in the United States and Europe. He commanded a field artillery battalion in Europe and, during 1990-91, participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm (in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.) He later served as Dean of Academics, United States Army War College. Dr. McCausland also served on the staff of the National Security Council, where his responsibilities included coordination of US policy regarding the Kosovo crisis and conventional arms control.

Dr. McCausland is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, the Army’s airborne and ranger schools, and the Command and General Staff College at Fort. Leavenworth. He holds a Master’s and Ph.D. degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, and is co-author of Battle Tested! Gettysburg Leadership Lessons for 21st Century Leaders.


Leo Michel

Non-Resident Fellow, FIIA

Leo Michel is Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council. His previous government positions included: Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies; Director for NATO Policy and Director for Non-Nuclear Arms Control in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Deputy U.S. Representative to the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Consultative Commission as well as other government positions. Michel holds a M.A. from Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies and a B.A. from Princeton University.