When Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster briefs, it’s like Gen. Patton giving a TED talk — a domineering physical presence with bristling intellectual intensity.
These days, the charismatic director of the Army’s Capabilities Integration Center is knee-deep in a project called The Russia New Generation Warfare study, an analysis of how Russia is re-inventing land warfare in the mud of Eastern Ukraine. Speaking recently at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., McMaster said that the two-year-old conflict had revealed that the Russians have superior artillery firepower, better combat vehicles, and have learned sophisticated use of UAVs for tactical effect. Should U.S. forces find themselves in aland war with Russia, he said, they would be in for a rude, cold awakening.
“We spend a long time talking about winning long-range missile duels,” said McMaster. But long-range missiles only get you through the front door. The question then becomes what will you do when you get there.
“Look at the enemy countermeasures,” he said, noting Russia’s use of nominally semi-professional forces who are capable of “dispersion, concealment, intermingling with civilian populations…the ability to disrupt our network strike capability, precision navigation and timing capabilities.” All of that means “you’re probably going to have a close fight… Increasingly, close combat overmatch is an area we’ve neglected, because we’ve taken it for granted.”
So how do you restore overmatch? The recipe that’s emerging from the battlefield of Ukraine, says McMaster, is more artillery and better artillery, a mix of old and new.