WASHINGTON — U.S. Army officials who oversee long-range weaponry are urging their counterparts in Europe to link artillery capabilities with those of NATO members, as the war in Ukraine highlights the importance of weapon.
The push comes amid a growing belief that defending the alliance rests in large part on interoperability between friendly militaries. In the case of field artillery, that means synchronizing weapons and weapon sensors from different countries so they can attack targets as a single force.
Maj. Gen. Stephen Maranian, commanding general of the US Army’s 56th Artillery Command in Germany, said he and his staff have been reaching out to allies in Europe to assess their plans and capabilities when it comes to fires, and what obstacles exist to compensation. the systems for greater combat blow.
“What we’re seeing as we look at what’s happening in our east is that fire formations are very relevant in 2022 and beyond,” he said this week at the Association of the United States Army’s annual convention in Washington. As a result, he added, nations want to invest in modernized artillery.
Russia’s war against Ukraine has featured long-range fire as a key element of the fighting since 2014, when Moscow forces established a front line in the Donbass region following the annexation of Crimea. The full-scale invasion in February 2022 saw Russia throw even more weapons at the front lines.
Western countries, in turn, have supported Ukraine with limited amounts of their own weapons, including HIMARS and M777 howitzers from the US, CAESAR weapons from France, Poland’s self-propelled Krab and Germany’s Panzerhaubitze 2000 and the Netherlands. Yet weapons stocks in Europe are low and most nations have said they are sending only what they can spend while maintaining a credible national defense.
Maranian said US Army officials are taking advantage of the service’s exercise campaign in Europe to test new concepts for linking artillery forces. In this year’s iteration of the Dynamic Front drill in July, for example, participants conducted a “test of principle” to that end at the Grafenwöhr training area in Germany, he said. The event paired a US artillery brigade with a multinational fire brigade made up of 11 nations, with NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps providing command and control.
“We were able to validate the concept that you could bring together smaller donation formations from countries that don’t necessarily have a full battalion or brigade to give,” Maranian said.
The idea now is to see how neighboring nations – ideally with the same equipment, but not necessarily – decide to form regional clusters of linked artillery on the continent, he explained. Suitable groupings could be in Scandinavia, the Baltic countries, and the nations of South East Europe, for example.
“I think that’s the way to go: to be able to optimize the artillery that exists in the alliance as we modernize,” Maranian said.
Sebastian Sprenger is Associate Editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region and on US-European cooperation and multinational investments in global defense and security. He previously served as the managing editor of Defense News. It is headquartered in Cologne, Germany.