NATO Packages Equipped Ukraine To Repair Vehicles In Counteroffensive

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A common military saying asserts that “Amateurs talk strategy; professionals talk logistics.” This adage emphasizes the crucial role of logistics in any military operation, especially as it pertains to repairing damaged equipment, allowing it to return to battle. Indeed, countries have lost wars from having inadequate capacity to repair battle-damaged equipment. Thus, in the context of the Ukrainian counteroffensive, the most critical pieces of equipment provided to Ukraine may not be the M2A2 Bradleys or the Leopards-2 Main Battle Tanks, but rather the repair equipment, including maintenance vehicles and spare parts, included in the military aid packages.

Numerous news articles have reported on the Ukrainian equipment losses from the starting phases of the counteroffensive. Indeed, the Russians had established a strong defensive network, including multiple obstacle belts overseen by drones and artillery. According to from June 5 to June 26, 2023, Ukraine lost 37 tanks, 11 armored fighting vehicles, 37 infantry fighting vehicles, and 9 armored personnel carriers.

While these losses are not substantially higher than other 3-week periods during the war, they included a significant number of the cutting-edge systems provided by NATO countries, including 18 M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, 6 Leopard-2 Main Battle Tanks, and 3 Leopard 2R Heavy Mine Breaching Vehicles. The Ukrainians employment of this equipment is in accordance with military doctrine, which advises the use of their more lethal weaponry during the initial offensive to breach Russian lines. This strategy aims to create openings in the Russian defenses, which can then be taken advantage of by the main Ukrainian force.

These losses are significant but not unexpected; indeed, the aid packages from NATO countries anticipated such losses, with each package included the associated repair equipment. The press releases from the U.S. Department of Defense typically included “spare parts and other field equipment” in the list of equipment given to Ukraine, although the exact equipment is left vague. However, a press release from May 3 stated that the U.S. provided Ukraine with 54 tactical vehicles for equipment recovery, 66 trucks for transporting heavy equipment, 8 logistics vehicles, in addition to spare parts, and funding for training, maintenance, and sustainment.

Although the exact vehicle types are not stated, the vehicles in the aid packages likely includes M88 Armored Recovery Vehicles and M1070 Heavy Equipment Transporters. Both vehicles are used by the U.S. military and its NATO allies to recover and repair damaged armored vehicles. The M88 is tracked and armored, allowing it to recover damaged tanks during active engagements. Meanwhile, the M1070 is a heavy-duty wheeled truck that can carry these vehicles over-road to military depots for repair. So far, no losses of the M88 or the M1070 vehicles have been captured in

Upon recovering the vehicles, the Ukrainians can repair the equipment making it combat ready again. Extremely damaged equipment will likely be returned back to its country of origin for repairs. However, the aid packages gave the Ukrainains the spare parts and tools for repair the more routine damage anticipated for these vehicles in combat. Most military vehicles have modular components, allowing damaged components to be quickly replaced. For example, open-source images showed several of the abandoned M2A2 Bradleys were no longer functional due to damaged tracks, likely from landmines. The Ukrainians should be able to rapidly repair these vehicles making them available for the next phase of the battle.

These repair operations are supported by the NATO use of interoperable parts. With a wide array of equipment coming from a number of different countries, Ukraine depots could easily be overwhelmed by an enormous quantity of specialized parts. However, NATO has implemented a practice of standardizing components and specifications across different military systems. While not all parts are standardized across weapon platforms, NATO strives to maximize the use of interoperable parts to facilitate easier logistics and maintenance.

Equally important, the aid packages included training for the Ukrainian forces on how to repair the damaged equipment. Traditionally, the Ukrainians would be familiar with how to repair their own Soviet-era equipment; indeed, such knowledge allowed them to repair captured Russian equipment. While there are some similarities between Soviet and NATO equipment, many of these systems are highly intricate and necessitate specialized training for their repair. As such, NATO countries have integrated repair and maintenance training into the overall training program offered to Ukraine.

As the war continues into the main stages of the counteroffensive, Ukraine will sustain an increasing amount of damage to their equipment, especially to the newer cutting-edge systems provided by NATO countries. Since Ukraine has less equipment than the Russians, it is imperative that the Ukrainians be able to recover and repair their battle-damaged equipment. Fortunately, they have been equipped with the essential tools, parts, and training required to fulfill this crucial objective.

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