Ukraine Update

Ukraine Update. By Jim Dunnigan, who has always been well-informed and accurate over the decades, well plugged into the US military community while stepping around the spin doctors.

Since mid-2022 Britain has been providing continuous intense, five-week, training courses for Ukrainian infantry…. Currently the Ukrainian ground forces are more than three times the size of Britain’s 153,000 strong army …

The 35-day training program worked for highly-motivated Ukrainian troops who know they have an edge when it comes to morale and determination to fight the Russian invaders. … The British program has trained 60,000 Ukrainians so far.

A new program, which quietly began in early 2023, has doubled the number of Ukrainians flown to Britain every five weeks. Britain obtained additional trainers from several NATO members plus Australia and New Zealand.  … Most specialist training (for artillerymen, tank crews and air defense systems) takes place in Poland or other nearby NATO countries.

The Ukrainian Army outnumbers the Russian Army in Ukraine by over 2 to 1:

For over a year the quality of Russian manpower inside Ukraine has declined, while the Ukrainians sought to train the many volunteers that joined the military once the invasion began.

Even with losses from a year’s fighting, there are still over 500,000 of these volunteers. Most require training before they are up to the standards required for a successful offensive to push the remaining (under 200,000) Russian forces out.

Even before the invasion, NATO had been assisting in training Ukrainian forces. This accelerated after 2014 and by the end of 2021 most of the Ukraine’s 200,000 active-duty troops were adequately trained, or at least better trained than most of the invading Russians.

Ukrainian troops suffered heavy losses in the first six months of the war and had to be supplemented by partly-trained reserves and untrained volunteers. There was little formal training for volunteers in the first few months of the war. Weapons were distributed and training was often on-the-job. This became more effective as there were more trained troops. A few of these in a platoon (30-40 soldiers) made a big difference because the trained troops taught the new ones that needed it.

Since late 2022 the Ukrainians have been on the defensive, which requires less skill and experience than attacking but does benefit from enthusiasm and steadfastness. Still, casualties were high, especially when the Russians were using a lot of artillery. Trained troops know to quickly disperse and dig in, not just in trenches and foxholes but also with sturdy overhead cover. The reaction of new, untrained and unwilling troops is to panic and flee. Russian losses during these offensives were very high and gains were small. …

It still takes several weeks to turn an untrained volunteer into a trained soldier with some of the essential skills needed to carry out offensive operations that are not suicidal. In other words, showing the volunteers how to avoid fighting like Russians.

The next few months will be telling. The Russians have been building fortifications to hold onto the territory they have grabbed in Ukraine, and can defend it with less-trained soldiers. The Ukrainians don’t have air support, don’t have enough tanks, and might not quite have the 3:1 manpower ratio usually required.