2022年10月13日 星期四

Troops at Front Offering Tanks For Launchers 拿戰車與砲彈換物資 烏軍前線的地下經濟

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2022/10/14 第404期 訂閱/退訂看歷史報份
紐時周報精選 Troops at Front Offering Tanks For Launchers 拿戰車與砲彈換物資 烏軍前線的地下經濟
Former Pentagon Leaders Warn of a Dangerous Era 美軍前領導高層聯名示警軍文關係緊張
Troops at Front Offering Tanks For Launchers 拿戰車與砲彈換物資 烏軍前線的地下經濟
文/Thomas Gibbons-Neff、Natalia

拿戰車與砲彈換物資 烏軍前線的地下經濟

The Ukrainian sergeant slid the captured Russian rocket launcher into the center of a small room. He was pleased. The weapon was practically brand-new. It had been built in 2020, and its thermobaric warhead was deadly against troops and armored vehicles.


But the sergeant, nicknamed Zmei, had no plans to fire it at advancing Russian soldiers or at a tank trying to burst through his unit's front line in eastern Ukraine.


Instead, he was going to use it as a bargaining chip.


Within the 93rd Mechanized Brigade, Zmei was not just a lowly sergeant. He was the brigade's point man for a wartime bartering system among Ukrainian forces. Prevalent along the front line, the exchange operates like a kind of shadow economy, soldiers say, in which units acquire weapons or equipment and trade them for supplies they need urgently.


Most of the bartering involves items captured from Russian troops. Ukrainian soldiers refer to them as "trophies."


"Usually, the trades are done really fast," Zmei said last week during an interview in Ukraine's mineral-rich Donbas region, where the 93rd is now stationed. "Let's just call it a simplification of bureaucracy."


Despite the influx of Western weapons and equipment in recent months, the Ukrainian military still relies heavily on arms and vehicles captured from their better-equipped Russian foe for the matériel needed to wage war; much of Ukraine's aging Soviet-era arsenal is either destroyed, worn down or lacks ammunition.


That has left Ukrainian soldiers scrounging the battlefield for essentials as their own supply lines are strained. And the relatively small numbers of big-ticket foreign weapons, such as the U.S.-made M777 howitzer, are spread thinly on the sprawling 1,500-mile front.


"We have hopes for Kyiv," said Fedir, one of the brigade's supply sergeants and an understudy of Zmei, referring to military commanders in the capital. "But we rely on ourselves. We aren't trying to just sit and wait like idiots until Kyiv sends us something."


The 93rd currently only possesses old Soviet-era artillery pieces that have worn out barrels and are low on ammunition.


"I have to go and buy everything and trade things, and bring it all here,"a 28-year-old Ukrainian soldier who goes by the name of Michael said.


"So what's going on is a personal initiative," he said. "You're taking the risk, it's criminal. Nobody will thank you. It's a thankless job."



Former Pentagon Leaders Warn of a Dangerous Era 美軍前領導高層聯名示警軍文關係緊張
文/Helene Cooper


The challenge to a peaceful transfer of power after President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election has worsened "an extremely adverse environment" for the U.S. military, according to an open letter signed by several top generals and former defense secretaries.


The letter does not mention Trump by name. But in 16 points on the principles that are supposed to define civil-military relations, the signatories issued a thinly veiled indictment of Trump and the legions of his followers who called on the military to support his false claim that the election was stolen from him.


"Military officers swear an oath to support and defend the Constitution, not an oath of fealty to an individual or to an office," the bipartisan group wrote, adding later, "It is the responsibility of senior military and civilian leaders to ensure that any order they receive from the president is legal."


Two former defense secretaries who served under Trump, Jim Mattis and Mark Esper, were among those who signed the letter, which was published Tuesday on War on the Rocks, an online platform for analysis of national security and foreign affairs issues.


In the six years since Trump entered the White House, the theme of the military's duty to obey only legal orders has come up frequently. Trump's tenure was a turbulent period for the Pentagon in which the president ordered American troops to the southwest border, riled up a crowd that stormed the Capitol and asked the military to deploy against protesters seeking racial justice.


Trump also asked his chief of staff, John Kelly, a retired Marine general, why he could not have military leaders who were loyal to him, like the "German generals in World War II," according to "The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021," by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser. (Baker is the chief White House correspondent for The New York Times; Glasser is a staff writer for The New Yorker.)


Retired Adm. Mike Mullen, who was chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, said today's political discourse was peppered with commentary that showed a lack of understanding of the military's role.


The letter "is not pointed at Trump, but when you hear him talk about Hitler's generals, well, that's not who we are," Mullen, one of the signatories, said in an interview.


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