A few weeks ago, members of the Spirit of America team traveled to Ukraine, Poland, and Germany to meet with our US and Ukrainian military partners, as well as everyday Ukrainian citizens. Spirit of America CEO Jim Hake and Europe Regional Program Manager Matt Dimmick shared some of the information they learned in a recent briefing. Here is the recording and a shorter, five-minute highlight reel.
We repeatedly heard that there is indeed a large hole in US support and that Spirit of America provides a unique capability to our US and Ukrainian partners that addresses critical shortfalls within that gap. Our assistance doesn’t duplicate what the US government is doing, and due to our unique capabilities, it can’t be replicated by other organizations.
Our efforts are focused on saving lives and helping Ukraine win by identifying and funding areas that will have the greatest asymmetric impact and chance to affect the outcome of the war.
What does asymmetric impact mean? It’s an offscale return on investment — where $1 in produces $100 or more of impact, and can become a meaningful factor in the outcome of a war that will be won by the slimmest of margins.
We saw firsthand many examples of our impact making a difference. Here are three:
Tactical network for secure communications
In the past year, the United States expanded its intelligence sharing rules to allow it to provide Ukraine with access to valuable intelligence information. This information is invaluable to Ukrainian commanders and units in the field who can take that data, interpret it in real time, and use it to achieve significant outcomes on the battlefield. Unfortunately, transferring that information is extraordinarily cumbersome due to incompatible systems between the US and Ukraine. Timely information can grow stale and useless while Ukrainians wait for it to be hand processed and distributed.
The answer was a tailored tactical network that solves all those problems — making the flow of information seamless and instantaneous to Ukrainians in the field to outmaneuver Russia.
However, the US ran into problems getting this new network up and running. They needed hundreds of cell phones and tablets to bring this program to life. Handcuffed by their own restrictive purchasing systems, the US military would have to wait until at least 2024 to procure all the pieces required.
Luckily, our partners reached out to us for help. We immediately stepped in to buy the hundreds of phones and tablets that they immediately put in the hands of the Ukrainians. This was enough to field a test run with units that are playing an essential role in the counteroffensive.
The results have been nothing short of astounding. We learned that — specifically because of the $614,000 worth of equipment we purchased to get the network up and running — Ukrainians had eliminated Russian weapon systems worth $2.2 billion. These are weapons intended to strike schools and hospitals in the same way that they strike Ukrainian soldiers.
A US Army officer told us, “I haven’t seen anything this game changing in the nine months I’ve been here.”
That is a 3,000x ROI in just a few months and doesn’t include the incalculable value of the lives that have been saved. With your continued support, we are seeking to expand this program to all necessary frontline soldiers as a difference-maker in this war.
Military trucks repair program
Spirit of America funded an entrepreneurial initiative created by Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces (TDF) that takes unusable Soviet-era military trucks sitting as junk and makes them operational. For the cost of $4,000 in parts and repairs, trucks can be brought back to life and sent to the front lines.
We visited a truck center where 35 mechanics work on trucks and armored vehicles six days a week. Above is just one example. Similar operations are in place across the country. It takes on average one month to repair a truck. So far, the TDF has fielded 186 of the 700 trucks funded by Spirit of America.
Here’s a video of Jim, Matt, and Europe Regional Director Colleen Denny at the truck depot.
Training program for Ukraine’s citizen soldiers
We also visited a Ukrainian TDF training program that we funded and helped TDF get off the ground in November 2022. We heard consistent feedback on how invaluable the instruction is for the officers chosen to lead company-sized elements in combat. Reports from the field show units led by training program graduates have higher levels of performance and and suffer fewer casualties.
One US military partner told us: “Providing training is as good or better than providing PPE or medical gear.” The course has also garnered interest from the highest levels in the Ukrainian government.
To give you a quick look, here’s a video of Matt explaining a classroom exercise in the Company Commander’s Course.
More to come, and more needed
The team visited a school to meet with Ukrainian students who benefited from a new program developed and funded by Spirit of America to address the devastating impact of the war on them, their schools, and communities. The students were incredibly inspiring. We’ll share more in the coming weeks.
We left Ukraine moved by what we saw and motivated to continue meeting the critical needs that our US and Ukrainian partners have identified that will save lives, have the biggest returns, and help shape the outcome of this war. With your continued support, together we can be the key factor in ensuring peace, freedom, and democracy.
Every day matters. Thank you for being a partner in this with us.