Eeben Barlow: The invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Armed Forces in February 2022 will present Africa with numerous challenges and problems. These will not only effect daily necessities but will also have an enormous future knock-on effect African armed forces will have to contend with.

About the author

Eeben Barlow served as a lieutenant-colonel in the pre-1994 South African Defence Force (SADF) in conventional, clandestine and covert units.

He was the founder and chairman of Executive Outcomes (EO) where he trained SADF Special Forces in covert operations. Executive Outcomes was one of the world’s first private military companies and had impressive successes in Angola and Sierra Leone against anti-government forces during the 1990s.

Eeben Barlow has worked in South America, the Far East and Africa training and mentoring armies and assisting law enforcement agencies and intelligence services with the development of strategies.

He is the author of the best-selling book Executive Outcomes: Against all Odds and The War For Africa.

Advertisement

Click to learn more

THE IMPACT OF THE RUSSIAN INVASION OF UKRAINE ON AFRICAN ARMED FORCES

The Article

For several years now, I have been warning African military forces about what I consider to be future defence and security problems, the failure to adapt doctrines and make doctrinal adjustments, the importance of informational dominance, and the folly of neglecting technology as a force multiplier.

Unfortunately, these warnings were never taken very seriously.

The invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Armed Forces in February 2022 will present Africa with numerous challenges and problems.

These will not only effect daily necessities but will also have an enormous future knock-on effect African armed forces will have to contend with.

Given the huge amounts of ammunition and equipment the Russians committed to the Ukrainian front, along with the fierce resistance offered by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, equipment losses have been staggering.

These losses will need to be replaced by both countries when the war is finally over.

Whereas NATO-supplied equipment has been able to exploit the vulnerabilities of Russian equipment, especially insofar as anti-armour weapon systems are concerned, it is noticeable that the Russian forces apparently have no effective counter.

The war has highlighted many innovations and how an opposing force can be attacked

The war has also highlighted many innovations and how an opposing force can be attacked.

The deployment of weaponised commercial drones is one example.

Equally, gaining informational dominance is critical if one needs to shape perceptions, influence public opinion, and gain the moral high ground.

These are important lessons to take note of.

However, what ought to be of concern to African armed forces is the fact that both countries have already delved into their first-line reserve and second-line equipment.

In addition, the military industries of both countries have suffered setbacks ranging from the destruction of factories to the acquiring of microchips and other high-tech elements, materials, and parts.

To rebuild their respective military industries, replace equipment losses, replenish ammunition stocks, as well as reequip their atrophied armed forces is going to take years, and at great cost.

The armed forces of many African states are equipped with Soviet-era or more recent Russian and Ukrainian equipment.

Not only has the invasion highlighted the vulnerabilities of especially the older Russian equipment, it has also highlighted the folly of what appears to be Russian doctrinal stagnation.

It will become increasingly problematic for African armies to acquire ammunition and spares for this equipment, or to maintain it in good combat order.

But the armed challengers and AGFs will experience the same problems.

Unless African armed forces start looking at developing their own defence industries to counter current and predicted threats, they will become willing victims of the fallout of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Advertisement

Click to learn more

The Operator: Free Newsletter Subscription

Back to Homepage

Photos by Eeben Barlow