Why Iraq and Ukraine are so different?
Someone asked me this morning: "how is it that we can be prepare to use airpower in Iraq but appear to be so reserved about a response to the situation in Ukraine?"That set me thinking: and the answer is, in my opinion, that we face very different situations. In Iraq we will not project our military power on the land, so can only do so from the air. The Islamic State air defence capability is limited, so risks are low.
Historically we might have considered using Armoured power in Europe as our principle weapon, albeit supported from the air.My first regimental posting is within 24 hours drive time to Kiev. But having now removed nearly all our troops from Europe we are unable to project force into the East. Moreover the use of air power in Ukraine will meet effective defensive responses from the separatist and/or Russian forces.
We are therefore "stuck". We don’t have any local or close-by capability available to intervene on the ground and we face a dangerous risk from intervention in the air.
Consequently we are suffering the fate of an alliance that has fought "light wars" for the last decade whilst forgetting that Russia has not reduced its military might and can certainly advance armoured forces from cross proximity.
Developing a suitable response for Ukraine will prove difficult