Ben Hodges has pointed to the Third Reich as an example to follow in the conflict with Russia
The Ukrainian government needs to look at what Germany did in WWII to stand a chance against Russia, according to Ben Hodges, former commander of US Army forces stationed in Europe.
Hodges, who retired as a lieutenant-general in 2017, has long been an outspoken supporter of Ukraine. In an interview with the Australian YouTuber Perun, published over the weekend, he repeatedly cited examples from the Second World War to argue that Kiev can defeat Moscow on the battlefield.
“They are gonna have to increase production of ammunition and weapons in Ukraine,” Hodges said. “Some of these things are already happening, but it is possible when you are at war to increase production even with Russian missiles raining down on your cities.”
“I mean, think about what Germany did in 1944. Aircraft production for the Luftwaffe peaked in 1944. That’s after more than two years of steady bombing by the Royal Air Force and the US Army Air Corps bombing the hell out of German cities. But yet German aircraft production increased. So I think Ukraine can do that with some improving efficiency. Some Western companies are already there helping,” he concluded.
Much of Ukraine’s military-industrial complex has been devastated by Russian bombardment over the past 20 months, forcing Kiev to rely on the West for anything from rifles to tanks, artillery and fighter jets. With NATO stockpiles approaching depletion, however, the US and its allies have suggested bolstering Kiev’s domestic military industry.
Comparisons of Ukraine with WWII Germany are awkward for a number of reasons, however. Moscow has repeatedly described the government in Kiev as a “Nazi regime,” pointing to the deliberate Nazi symbolism of units like ‘Azov’ as well as official glorification of WWII collaborators such as Stepan Bandera. Ukrainian armed forces have also embraced many of the insignia used by the German Wehrmacht, as well as SS runes and divisional badges.
Hodges did not help his case by arguing that Ukraine needs to “improve their recruiting system in order to maximize available manpower,” including mobilizing “too many military-aged males and women walking around in Ukraine that should be in the military” as well as thousands of men who fled to the EU as refugees.
“Ukraine has got to fix their recruiting system and get these fit, able-bodied men and women into uniform,” the general told Perun. His remarks came as Kiev debated expanding the draft to women in order to replenish the losses incurred during the futile summer counteroffensive.
Last month, Russian intelligence agency SVR claimed that Ukraine’s western backers – the US and the UK in particular – had demanded the mobilization of women as well as men as young as 17 and as old as 70. This prompted comparisons with Adolf Hitler’s September 1944 order creating the ‘Volkssturm’ militia. These units, made up of barely trained civilians, suffered horrific casualties in clashes with the Soviet and Anglo-American forces without making any difference to the outcome of the war.