Invest in long-term defence, diversify supplies: US Army Chief of Staff
General James McConville, the US Army Chief of Staff has issued a warning for the US and Western allies responding to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, with broader relevance for Australia’s own long-term strategic planning and supply chain resilience in the era of renewed great power competition.
Much of human history has been defined by the ambitions and conflagrations of “great powers” — these “great powers” are typically characterised by a range of factors that distinguish them from true middle powers, lower-tier middle and minor powers, including a complementary balance of “hard” and “soft” power dynamics such as military and economic strength and diplomatic and cultural influence.
Further complicating the contemporary understanding of international power dynamics is confusion about the differences between “superpowers” and “great powers”, which has become increasingly blurred since the end of the Cold War. Today, this delineation between established “great powers” like the United Kingdom, France and to a lesser extent, Russia, with Germany, Japan and India recognised as lower-tier “great powers”. Meanwhile, the presence of the established global “superpower” like the United States and emerging “superpower” China makes the new era of great power competition increasingly confusing — nowhere is the diverse nature of this paradigm clearer than in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Russia, an established “great power”, albeit significantly reduced from its former glory, has presented a significant challenge to post-Cold War balance of power with its invasion of Ukraine, shattering the arrogant belief that the collapse of the Soviet Union would precipitate an “End of History” which formed the foundation of much of the Western World’s economic, political, and strategic policy making for the best part of three decades.
The Russian invasion and occupation of Ukraine has increasingly pushed the supply chains of both the United States and the NATO nations to the limit, particularly across supply chains for artillery rounds, specialised guided munitions and missiles, raising concerns about the survivability and durability of these supply chains, throwing into question the capacity of the United States in particular to remain the “Arsenal of Democracy”.