The Guardian describes a rather anonymous building near Zaporizhia, Ukraine. In this place, a few dozen computer screens glow and as many individuals are busy, concentrating on updating in real time on a platform called “Delta”, which some in the Ukrainian army consider one of the most important weapons in the war against the invasion of Russia .
Delta is a sort of Google Maps of the ongoing war and its busy fronts, accessible in real time to Ukrainian military personnel on the ground thanks to the miracles of Starlink’s satellite internet. A few clicks and a unit can see where enemy units are, another click and they can observe their supposed movements: better predict, plan, aim and attack.
Delta’s simple interface offers a very accurate, real-time view of the situation on the ground. Information about each enemy unit, their training, their leaders – anything that can be gleaned from the web or social media.
Delta is the result of an innovation center created by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, and from which the famous group called Aerorozvidka also emanates, a unit dedicated to drone warfare which, since the beginning of the Russian invasion and even long before, has shown its crucial importance in modern conflicts.
The software is typical of what makes the difference between the Ukrainian army and the Russian juggernaut facing it: the latter is a rigid, vertical, old-fashioned post-Soviet monolith as the former tries to break out of this too rigid straitjacket to adopt a vision one of the things where information circulates more fluidly, among more capable units.
One of those responsible for the team, Vitalii, explains to the Guardian that “the main difference between the Russian army and the Ukrainian army lies in the horizontal links created between units”🇧🇷 Vitali adds: “We are winning because Ukrainians are natural horizontal communicators.”
Inherited from the Soviet era, the doctrine “bald” of the Russian army is expensive, when initiatives like Delta offer additional agility – and numerous possibilities for taking initiatives – to Ukrainian units and their commands.
The software is an emanation of the “start-up” spirit of young Ukrainians embarking on the war, many of them coming from the technology and IT sector.
“They are not Ministry of Defense bureaucrats. They were part of the private sector and were drafted to serve in the army.”explains Tatiana, another person in charge of the innovation centre, to the British daily. “They started to create Delta with their heads and with their own hands, because they have an agile development culture”, she continues. “The creative process is short. You develop, you test, you launch.”
“Our bullets are information”
Little or no uniform in the center of Zaporijia, which incidentally is just one of six “hubs” of the same type, set up on the outskirts of the main war fronts from where this precious information is managed.
OSINT (Open source intelligence) specialists are in charge of scouring social networks, looking for any information, post, photo, geolocation that allows Delta to be fed with real-time information about nature, positioning and movements of enemy units.
As a recent Wall Street Journal article explains, they can also count on the valuable information sent, beyond the lines and in the occupied territories, by Ukrainian quidams who have become indispensable informants, and against whom Russia can do nothing.
Elsewhere in the center, a workshop dedicated to the preparation, repair or testing of drones, often of civilian origin and also widely used to collect the uninterrupted flow of military intelligence centralized by Delta.
Of course, Delta should be as integrated as possible – its programmers go to great lengths to connect incoming Western weaponry to it – and it’s accessible to any unit with the software and an Internet connection, usually thanks to Starlink. 🇧🇷 The platform is also based on satellite images provided by allied countries or various private companies that have set their eyes on the sky at the service of Ukraine.
To further sharpen this knowledge of the situation, analyzes and notes are made daily, and made available to anyone who wants to explore them.
As the Guardian reports, attention is currently focused on Melitopol, a Russian-occupied city that has made it a major logistical hub and where Ukrainian forces struck a blow against a base in December.
However, not all the Ukrainian army uses the Delta: in an institution whose senior cadres were formed during the Soviet era, the transition to the modern war era and to the aforementioned horizontality is not always easy. But it’s probably only a matter of time before the software is formally adopted and used universally.
“That’s the big story”🇧🇷 explains Shlomo about his work on Delta. “We write what will change the war. Our weapons are computers. Our bullets are information.