Resilience and creativity in the contested environment of Ukraine

Reporting from Defense One in March indicates that Ukrainian forces operating behind Russian lines are being forced to become creative and judicious in how they use their Starlink internet dish to communicate with friendly forces as Russian forces have become considerably more capable in locating jamming the signal over the last two to three months around Bakhmut.

One soldier interviewed by Defense One reported that the terminals were a “double-edged sword”: necessary for coordinating artillery strikes and drone operations, but also increasingly vulnerable to Russian countermeasures.

A soldier setting up a Starlink terminal. Source: Ukraine Military Center, collected from open sources

While there has been a general increase in activity across the front lines, Ukrainian soldiers have noted that the intensity varies from location to location, potentially showing that the Russian military is rotating its electronic warfare capabilities.

Even in areas where there is heightened Russian activity, Ukrainians have demonstrated resilience and creativity in their responses. One Ukrainian soldier said that when his Starlink is jammed he places it in a whole, which insulates it against the low power GPS jammer signals that cannot typically go through obstructions.

The reporting demonstrates the iterative challenges of establishing and maintaining resilience in the highly contested multi-domain environment of modern warfare. There are near constant competition between offense and defense, detection and deception that is driven by innovations in new technologies as well as creative use of existing capabilities. Many times it is the most adaptive and creative not necessarily the most technologically advanced force that is able to best navigate these competitions.