How U.S. Weapons Are Helping Ukraine Take Back Its Land

How U.S. Weapons Are Helping Ukraine Take Back Its Land

Pentagon officials say that Ukraine’s effective use of HIMARS strikes has provided consequential support for Ukrainian fighters now fighting to take back territory.

U.S. military aid has helped Ukraine hit as many as 400 Russian targets with High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), causing what the Pentagon calls a “devastating” effect and enabling Ukrainian ground forces to maneuver in support of their fast-evolving counterattack.

 “What the Ukrainians are doing is a very deliberate offensive attack. They are setting conditions with fires in order to set conditions for ground maneuver to accomplish the objectives that they set out,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said on Thursday.

Milley said that Ukraine’s effective use of artillery, rockets, and HIMARS strikes has provided consequential support for Ukrainian fighters now fighting to take back territory previously held by Russia.

“That offensive is in its early stages and it's too early to give a full assessment, but to date, Ukraine is effectively using their fires to shape the ground maneuver as they continue their offensive in the south. And what we're talking about is the area just north of the Dnipro River, in the vicinity of Kherson,” Milley added.

This progress appears to indicate that Ukraine is successfully employing combined arms maneuver, with its forces using artillery and longer-range ground-fired rockets such as HIMARS in tandem with efforts to reclaim territory and advance into forward positions. Combined arms maneuver is an integrated ground-combat approach that uses multiple weapon systems in coordination with one another to achieve an integrated, synergistic battlefield effect. Milley noted that long-range rocket fire from HIMARS and artillery strikes have decimated Russian supply lines, command and control outposts, and other key elements of the Russian military’s combat apparatus.

These long-range strikes are critical to combined arms maneuver, as they can remove threats and potential impediments to Ukrainian efforts to fully retake territory held by Russians. With Russian defenses weakened by rocket strikes, Ukrainian ground forces are less vulnerable as they advance.

“Russian lines of communication and supply channels are severely strained. It is having a direct impact on the Russian ability to project and sustain combat power. Russian command and control in the headquarters have been disrupted and … they're having great difficulty resupplying their forces and replacing their combat losses,” Milley told reporters.

During a press conference after the September 8 meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that the United States alone has provided Ukraine with sixteen HIMARS, thousands of Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLR) rounds, hundreds of thousands of 155 mm artillery shells, and thousands of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons.

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

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