LONDON — Ukraine has become an “incubator” for warfighting, and Britain must rapidly heed lessons learned if it’s to remain a credible force, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told Parliament on Tuesday.

In a statement to lawmakers announcing the publication of a refreshed plan from 2021 to reshape the British military‚ Wallace said Ukraine was the epitome of warfare in the 2020s and that the Ministry of Defence needs to adapt accordingly. The published report, known as a defense command paper, updates how Britain will change its approach to defense, triggered primarily by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

“As Defence Secretary, to import the lessons learnt from this conflict to our own forces is important. And while I wish such lessons were generated in a different way this conflict has become an incubator of new ways of war,” he said. “So in this refresh we are focused on how to drive the lessons of Ukraine into our core business on how to recover the warfighting resilience needed to generate credible conventional deterrence.”

“They [Ukraine] are proving the way for warfare in the 2020s. Which is a whole-of-nation, internationally partnered, innovative, digitised and operating with a tempo, precision and range requirement,” added Wallace, who announced last weekend he will quit his post amid the next government reshuffle by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, expected in September.

However, Wallace also warned that Britain not rush toward definitive lessons from the conflict too early, as the war is ongoing. He told lawmakers the lessons will be profound, and Britain must seize the opportunity to gain insights and adapt now.

Wallace said he stood by the 2021 version of the command paper but said Britain must move faster and proceed differently. He specifically pointed to the value of adapting at pace on the battlefield during any future conflict.

“We have learned that staying ahead of the threat and gaining strategic advantage can be achieved through novel and creative means, exploiting technology and adapting weapons systems, such as Uncrewed Air Systems, during contact, rather than relying entirely on an existing force package,” the report noted.

The paper also advocated for pivoting British forces toward high-tech requirements in areas like space, robotics and cyber, and away from aging conventional weapons like the main battle tank.

The new version also highlighted initiatives aimed at rebuilding Britain’s hollowed-out forces with high-tech weapons.

Furthermore, it called for changes to the relationship between the Defence Ministry and industry; a significant uptick in research and development activities and spending; rebuilding Britain’s run-down weapon stockpiles and strengthening the strategic reserve; and creating a so-called global response force that brings together high-readiness and deployed forces.

Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.

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