Ukrainian soldiers face intensive training program to get battle-ready
Fox News correspondent Alex Hogan reports on efforts from nine countries to train Ukrainian solders as fighting against Russia rages on.
SOUTHWEST, England— Five weeks ago, Sergyy a young artist and painter from Dnipro, Ukraine, swapped out his brush for lessons with a high-powered rifle. It was not the path that he chose, but one he felt compelled to take. Behind his dark green mask and camouflage-covered helmet, he has not had time to think about what comes next only the rigorous drills to accomplish each day.
He is one of the more than 14,000 Ukrainians participating in training in the U.K. The military program, designed to quickly bring new recruits of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and within 35 days, provides them a set of skills critical to their survival on the front lines. Representatives from nine other allied countries are providing trainers and resources as part of the project which projects to train 20,000 soldiers by the end of this year. Upon successful completion, Sergyy and his other classmates will deploy back to their home country, expected to be ready to join in the fight immediately.
“I feel confident in the logistics I’ve learned, the training, and how the instructors teach us here,” he said through an English interpreter. Standard British army recruits get an initial 14 weeks of basic training.
Ukrainian personnel hold a Ukrainian flag as they stand on a Challenger 2 tank during training at Bovington Camp, near Wool in southwestern Britain, Feb. 22, 2023. (REUTERS/Toby Melville)
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“The learning curve is steep,” Second Lt. Badger of the British Army said. “You know, it’s five weeks that they arrive having no skills at all, and they leave very motivated and ready which is an amazing thing to see”.
Fox News was provided access to an undisclosed location in England, where reporters were able to observe live fire exercises and conduct drills in trench warfare. The course includes target shooting, medical aide, NATO standards of armed conflict and operating armored vehicles or drones.
The time limitations present challenges as well as communication issues. One trainer from Australia, who was not permitted to provide his name, said the language gap can hinder their limited time and found the bigger challenge was ensuring they understood why certain skills are critical.
Some 20,000 Ukrainian soldiers will be trained in the UK by the end of 2023.
“Sometimes they might think things aren’t relevant, but they take them on board, and then they will take them in and learn them over a period of time. And then it will like kind of click near the end, so they can learn and understand why they’re actually doing the skills.”
New recruits arrive every two to three days, and the urgency to get them the knowledge and skills is compounded by rumors of an imminent Ukraine counteroffensive.
Ukrainian soldiers training in the United Kingdom.
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In a recent post on his Telegram Chanel, Col. Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, Ukraine’s ground forces commander, hinted as much in discussing the long and deadly battle of Bakhmut.
“Very soon, we will take advantage of this opportunity, as we once did near Kyiv, Kharkiv, Balakliia and Kupiansk,”
This operation is just one of the many programs designated to get Ukrainians the skills they need, mostly on western technology. Sixty-five Ukrainian soldiers recently finished training on the PATRIOT Missile Defense system at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. The U.S. is also currently training 3,900 Ukrainian soldiers in Germany.
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Since the war began, the United Kingdom has spent more than $2.5 billion in military aid, including a squadron of 14 Challenger 2 tanks which arrived in Ukraine earlier this week, as well as AS90 self-propelled guns. Training is also ongoing for a series of combat aircraft.
James Levinson is a national field producer for Fox News based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter @james_levinson. Tips can be sent to [email protected]