Cover: How the Ukraine War Accelerates the Defense Strategy

How the Ukraine War Accelerates the Defense Strategy

Published in: War on the Rocks website (2023)

Posted on rand.org Apr 11, 2023

by Jim Mitre

Defense strategists have long held that rigorous — if not ruthless — prioritization is the key to success. Frederick the Great captured this sentiment best when saying: "Little minds try to defend everything at once, but sensible people look at the main point only; they parry the worst blows and stand a little hurt if thereby they avoid a greater one. If you try to hold everything, you hold nothing."

The 2022 National Defense Strategy's prioritization is crystal clear: China, not Russia, is the Defense Department's top priority. Yet as the Russia-Ukraine war rages on and the Defense Department continues pouring resources into the effort, is this a failure of prioritization that bends or breaks the strategy? No. It's the opposite. A counterintuitive result of the war in Ukraine is that it enhances the Defense Department's ability to outpace its top strategic competitor, China.

Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine is causing regional instability in Europe with global implications that directly affect U.S. interests. The war is also a horrific tragedy and atrocity that has shattered the lives of millions, and the stories of individuals directly affected are heartbreaking. For security and humanitarian interests, it is therefore right and good for the U.S. government to aid in the defense of Ukraine.

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