In her reporting in the war in Ukraine, CBS News foreign correspondent Holly Williams has routinely heard the same refrain. Once they find out she is from American television, Ukrainians tell her their country needs more American weapons. While the specific weapons they request occasionally change, the tenor of conversation stays the same—they want American weapons as soon as possible.
Spend time with the Ukrainian military, and the reason is apparent.
In a recent reporting trip to the country for 60 Minutes, Williams saw up close how one American-supplied vehicle has been making a difference in Ukrainian advances: the Bradley fighting vehicle. Combining the firepower of a tank and the protection of an armored personnel carrier, a Bradley is an armored vehicle that transports infantry in combat zones, protects against artillery shrapnel and fires at enemy forces. It provides both offense and defense against Russian forces.
Ukrainian Serhiy Gavryliuk is a truck commander on a Bradley. A civilian until the war began last year, Gavryliuk received a month-long intensive training with the U.S. military in Germany. He told Williams that Bradleys have helped keep his fellow Ukrainian soldiers alive, and sometimes, have even deflected Russians without having to fire a shot.
“It scares them,” Gavryliuk said. “When we hear their radio and they hear that Bradley coming, they start to run away.”
The Bradley is adept at protecting its occupants against Russian forces, in part, because it was specifically designed to do so decades ago.
“If you go back to the Cold War, the United States realized that if we were in a conflict with the Soviet Union, we were going to be grossly outnumbered. And so, the whole concept was fight outnumbered and win,” said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, a retired Army officer who was the commander of the U.S. Army in Europe. “And the only way you can do that is, if you’ve got longer range, you’re able to hit a Soviet tank before it even sees you.”
As a result of these Cold War calculations, Hodges said, the Bradley fighting vehicle, the Abrams tank, and the Apache helicopter were all introduced to the American military because of their ability to face an enemy whose manpower vastly exceeded that of the Americans.
The U.S. began providing Bradley fighting vehicles to Ukrainian forces through aid packages in January. It has since pledged 186 Bradleys at a cost of $2 million apiece, part of the more than $43 billion in military aid that the U.S. has committed to Kyiv since Russia invaded. That is equivalent to roughly five percent of the U.S. defense budget.
Ukrainian forces have relied on Bradleys during the monthslongthey launched in early June. Prior to receiving the American vehicles, Ukrainians often used decades-old equipment inherited from the Soviet Union.
According to open-source intelligence collected by the site Oryx, 53 of the American-supplied Bradleys have been destroyed, damaged, or abandoned during fighting. It does not appear that Russians have captured any.
The video above was produced by Brit McCandless Farmer, Will Croxton, and Erin Lyall. It was edited by Will Croxton.
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