Ukraine breaches Russian defences, but is it a breakthrough?28/09/2023
Award winning Sitrep brings you discussion and analysis on defence, foreign policy and the stories affecting the British Forces.
Presented by Kate Gerbeau, with expert analysis from Professor Michael Clarke.
Ukraine has punched a new hole through Russia’s minefields, ditches, and ‘dragons teeth’ in Western Zaporizhzhia, but is it enough to start taking back big swathes of land?
Professor Michael Clarke explains why this is halfway to being a turning point, and Forces News reporter Simon Newton explains what obstacles are still in the way of Ukraine’s tanks.
British Army Veteran Shaun Pinner made headlines around the world when he was captured in Ukraine and sentenced to death by Russia. He tells us why he was never a ‘war tourist’, how decades-old training helped him survive, and about the moment he met his unlikely saviour.
Three veterans of Britain’s nuclear test programme, now entitled to a new medal, share their experiences of being guinea-pigs for the UK’s race to become an atomic power.
When Shaun Pinner left the Royal Anglian Regiment, after 9 years as a soldier, he had no intention of ever returning to military life.
Two decades later he was fighting in Ukraine as one of the country’s marines, besieged in the city of Mariupol as it was battered and starved by Russian forces.
When he was captured Shaun was beaten, tortured and eventually sentenced to death by firing squad. Yet he is now a free man, and living in Ukraine.
He tells Kate Gerbeau the incredible story of how he ended up there (via waste management and volunteering in Syria), why he was never a ‘war tourist’, and the surreal moment when he met his unlikely saviour on a luxury jet.
The Army’s about to test software which, with the help of tiny drones, can give soldiers a 3D model of their battlefield on a phone or tablet in minutes.
The ‘Farsight’ system eliminates the need for network connections, big servers, and long waits. A former US special operations commander who’s helped develop the software tells us what it will mean to troops on the ground.
Russia expert Emily Ferris explains how Moscow’s technology compares, and how military call ups have created a ‘brain-drain’.
And the NHS says three-quarters of its hospital trusts are now ‘veteran aware’. Two pioneers of the scheme tell us what it should mean for the care of those who have served their country.
This week Sitrep focuses on how the British military and defence industry are learning lessons from the war in Ukraine.
Rear Admiral Andrew Betton, Director Joint Warfare at UK Strategic Command, says the way warfare has evolved in Ukraine is a wake-up call.
Sitrep also explores how the defence industry is responding to the conflict in terms of new weapons and equipment.
Plus General Lord Dannatt, the former head of the army, tells us failing to learn the lessons of history left Britain behind at the outbreak of the second world war.
In a special Sitrep podcast, the Head of the British Army says by the end of the decade the Army will be the most modern and the most lethal in Europe. Listen here to the exclusive interview with the CGS, General Sir Patrick Sanders
Sitrep hears from the 3 star British General helping to enforce the uneasy armistice on the border between North and South Korea.
The UK is a member of the US-led United Nations Command Korea. Its role is to enforce the armistice and de-escalate tensions. Its Deputy Commander, Lieutenant General Andrew Harrison, tells Sitrep that the Demilitarised Zone is a ‘surreal’ and ‘dangerous’ place and warns of the need for constant vigilance.
Also in this week’s podcast, Sitrep will be assessing how the battlelines in Ukraine have changed and why. We’ll be hearing from the Institute for the Study of War, Professor Michael Clarke and Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, Former Commanding General US Army Europe.
For 70 years there’s been an armistice – but no peace treaty- between North and South Korea.
In this special addition, Sitrep hears in full from the 3 star British General helping to enforce the uneasy armistice in his role as Deputy Commander of the US-led United Nations Command Korea.
Shaista Gul was known to thousands of British servicemen and women over the years. He created a small oasis of peace at the UK’s headquarters in Southern Afghanistan.
But after Lashkar Gah main operating base closed in 2014 he had to leave the job he loved, and with it the garden he’d created.
What followed was Taliban intimidation, fatal attacks on his family, and eventually a perilous journey to eventual safety in the UK.
Sitrep talks to Larisa Brown, author of ‘The Gardener of Lashkar Gah: The Afghans Who Risked Everything to Fight the Taliban’, and Shaista Gul’s son Jamal, who worked as interpreter for Britain’s armed forces in Helmand.
Supporting Ukraine, recruitment & retention, procurement problems and a budget to balance. The new Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has a lot to manage, but does it matter this is his first defence role, indeed does it matter who does the job right now?
Professor Michael Clarke explains why his room for manoeuvre is limited, and what we can expect.
Waiting on the Defence Secretary’s desk are 67 recommendations to shake up Armed Forces life and careers. Could older troops, greater neurodiversity, and direct entry to higher ranks solve skills gaps and make for stronger services?
And Sitrep examines the latest scientific research into whether some of the most tightly-controlled illegal drugs in the UK could cure PTSD. We hear from one veteran who says psychedelic therapy has transformed his life.
Is it time for a radical rethink of who the Armed Forces allow to join, and at what rank, to fill critical skills gaps?
For centuries most people have only been able serve their country by starting at the bottom and working their way up, after meeting strict elegibility criteria.
But in the 21st century, amid ever greater competition for top talent, should the forces be embracing neurodiversity, later-life careers, and sideways entry?
And why should you stay with one service for your whole military career?
We talk to former Chief of Defence People, Lieutenant General James Swift, about whether these ideas could help build the forces, or damage their effectiveness.
Amid a swirl of questions and conspiracy theories about the apparent death of Yevgeny Prigozhin, in a plane crash in Russia, one fact is clear. The mercenary group which has been doing the Kremlin’s dirty work for a decade has lost its founders and top team.
Professor Michael Clarke explains what it means for the war in Ukraine and why the group, branded a threat to the UK by MP’s, will not be disappearing.
After three British soldiers were injured by in attack on UN peacekeepers in Cyprus, Forces News reporter Simon Newton tells us about the reality of high tensions in the buffer zone, despite what is often dismissed as a ‘sunshine tour’.
And six months after President Zelensky’s ‘wings for freedom’ appeal, he’s finally been promised western fighter jets. But they won’t be able to make an impact in the war for a very long time. We explain why.
Two years since British troops left, and the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, millions of people are going hungry while women and girls have been stripped of basic rights.
The Chairman of the Commons Defence Committee says we need to stop ‘shouting from the sidelines’ and re-engage with the Taliban, but after posting a video from Helmand describing the country as ‘transformed’ he’s facing a no-confidence vote from his colleagues.
So how should the UK help? Indeed can it help? Sitrep talks to former Afghan diplomat Nazifa Haqpal and retired Colonel Simon Diggins who was Defence Attaché in Kabul for two years.
Nazifa warns the Taliban is trying to radicalise the population, so Professor Michael Clarke explains the threat Afghanistan poses to the UK, and why we should care about ‘fixing it’.
Ukraine formed 12 brigades, each up to 5,000 soldiers strong, to take back territory from Russia. So far it’s only committed around a third of those forces.
Professor Michael Clarke and Forces News Ukraine reporter Simon Newton discuss the military logic, and whether the next phase of the counter-offensive has actually already started.
Is there a better way to handle complaints from members of the Armed Forces?
Germany’s Armed Forces Commissioner tells us how surprise visits and access-all-areas help her make a difference.
And is the pen really mightier than the sword? We explain the concept of ‘weaponised narratives’, how they’ve been used to overthrow governments, and ask whether words can do the same job as warfighting.
The pen, they say, is mightier than the sword, but how?
Words can be used as a weapon of war, and the right words used early enough might even save you from the many costs of kinetic operations.
That’s the argument put forward in a new book – ‘Subversion, the strategic weaponization of narratives’.
It’s author, Dr Andreas Krieg, tells us how weaponised narratives have been used to do things like overthrow governments, and change the world without a shot needing to be fired.
Ukraine’s President Zelensky says it’s ‘inevitable’ that war is returning to Russia, and two drone strikes on a Moscow skyscraper look like an attempt to prove the point.
Professor of Defence Studies Michael Clarke explains why he’s worried by this, and we assess whether it makes any strategic sense.
Ukraine is manufacturing, and using up, thousands of drones every month. Svitlana Morenets in Kyiv tells us about getting hands on with the ‘army of drones’ programme that is also training thousands of operators.
And British man Aiden Aslin, who went to fight Daesh in Syria and then joined Ukraine’s armed forces, tells us what motivated him to fight other people’s wars.
The President of Belarus says Wagner fighters, exiled to his country, are ‘getting on our nerves’ and want ‘an excursion’ into Poland.
Sitrep examines whether this seriously threatens war between NATO and Russia, and we talk to Alicia Kearns MP about cross party warnings that Wagner is a direct threat to the UK.
The Prime Minister has apologised to LGBT veterans who were kicked out of the forces, stripped of medals, and in some cases imprisoned. We explain why has he said sorry when the rules were clear and legally binding at the time.
And 70 years since the end of fighting, why are North and South Korea still technically at war?
The UK’s ‘defence masterplan’ has been updated after just two years, because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Its conclusions are essentially to stick with the old plan, but it must be done faster and better. Despite being re-examined cuts of thousands of soldiers, and a third of the Army’s tanks, will stay.
Professor Michael Clarke explains the key points, what they’ll mean for the Armed Forces, and for their people.
We also assess whether the promises of faster and better modernisation can be delivered, with one of the military architects of the 2015 Defence Review.
As the Armed Forces struggle to recruit and retain the people and skills they need, a major review is recommending a radical rethink of British military life and careers.
The Haythornethwaite review found the forces need to do better at making their people feel valued.
It was commissioned by the Defence Secretary to study ‘incentivisation’ for servicemen and women.
Sitrep talks to the review’s military adviser, retired Lieutenant General Sir Nick Pope, to ask whether flexible working can work for the forces, why the internet really matters to people, and whether pay should be based on skills rather than rank.
The old military saying goes ‘winning the war is easier than winning the peace’.
Sitrep explains what the NATO summit has and hasn’t done to prepare for the end of the war, with the help of Major General Tim Cross, who led the UK’s post-war efforts in Iraq.
The summit delivered security guarantees for Ukraine from some allies, including the UK, but no timetable for NATO membership. We assess whether it was a good or bad result for Ukraine.
And what about NATO’s own defence? We take a look at the new Regional Defence Plans, and ask if the UK can deliver what it’s promising.
Ukraine’s counter offensive is being held up, in part, by densely packed Russian minefields. Former tank commander Justin Crump explains how they avoid the explosives, and clear a path through.
Professor Michael Clarke tells us what progress Ukraine has made in the last month, and why a much bigger push looks imminent.
Sitrep’s James Wharton has had exclusive access to British troops on the ground in Iraq as part of Operation Shader, he explains how their role has changed over the last 9 years.
And former army intelligence officer Louise Jones gives us a guide to the Do’s & Don’ts of social media for forces personnel.
Some Eastern European countries have called on NATO to strengthen its eastern borders following recent events in Russia.
This week Germany said it plans to keep 4000 troops permanently in Lithuania, once the infrastructure is in place.
Germany already leads a multi-national battlegroup in Lithuania, as the UK does in Estonia, as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence. What could Germany’s move mean for the rest of NATO?
Sitrep talks to the former Chief of the Defence Staff, General Lord Richards, about the planned deployment and about the strength of Russian forces in Ukraine.
And finally, Sitrep hears from a Hercules pilot as the aircraft makes its last RAF flight…