“Outplay the Russians.” What American veterans are teaching Ukrainian recruits

“Something like special forces”

Sprawled on the ground, conscripts of the 36th Marine Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine aim their machine guns at targets set on the embankment. Suddenly, to the surprise of the American instructors, one by one they start firing.

“Stop shooting! shouts Steven Tomberlin, 62, a retired police officer from Colorado who is leading the drill. Until I give the order. You. Not. Do. Nothing”. When shooting resumes on his orders, most of the bullets land away from the targets.

“Most of these people have only recently been mobilized,” Anton Sologub, deputy commander of the battalion included in the brigade, tells The Wall Street Journal. They are overseeing the first day of a crash course for conscripts taught primarily by US military veterans. – The instructors promised to turn my people into something similar to special forces in 10 days. Let’s see”.

Huge demand for instructors

To counter the Russian invasion, Ukraine has mobilized several hundred thousand people. Several tens of thousands of foreigners also arrived to help her fight the aggressor. Many joined the Foreign Legion and took part in the battles. Some were taken prisoner, the authorities of the self-proclaimed DPR have already sentenced several people to death (neither in Russia nor in the separatist republics they are considered prisoners of war).

But seasoned veterans like Tomberlin, who had previously trained commandos in Afghanistan, figured they would be more useful as instructors. “There is a huge demand here for what we offer,” said WSJ Tomberlin, who has already trained 270 local recruits. “These guys will be better trained than 75% of the Ukrainian army.”

In Ukraine, Tomberlin joined a unit that calls itself the Mobile Airborne Training Group (MATG). There are about a dozen Americans in it, as well as several British, Canadians and Israelis, writes WSJ. Each of them came to Ukraine on their own, then, using informal connections, they eventually gathered in Nikolaev, where they are engaged in briefing.

The US government does not maintain any contact with American volunteers in Ukraine, the Pentagon officially recommends that “US citizens do not travel to Ukraine or, if it is safe, leave it immediately.” Not wanting a direct confrontation with Russia, before the start of the war, the US Department of Defense withdrew 150 military instructors from Ukraine who trained Ukrainian soldiers.

But volunteers, with the support of the Ukrainian authorities and the military, independently organize training camps, teaching Ukrainian soldiers various skills: from first aid to marksmanship and maneuvering. Not far from the front line, there are several camps where recruits are taught how to fight and handle various types of weapons, as well as advise Ukrainian special forces. One of the groups of American instructors was jokingly called “Mozart” by its members.

“Time is not on their side”

“Many Ukrainian soldiers told me that this is the most significant thing they have done in their lives, and I tell them the same thing,” says 29-year-old MATG instructor Brian Bentley, a former marine who was going to enter the Detroit police academy , but instead went to Ukraine.

The presence of American instructors did not go unnoticed by the Russian army. Retired US Army Senior Sergeant Bradley Crawford, leader of MATG, told the WSJ that information about him was found on the phone of a member of a Russian sabotage group recently captured in Nikolaev. In July, a Russian rocket exploded near the house where Crawford lived, he received minor burns and minor injuries.

“The Russians certainly don’t like our presence,” says Crawford, 39, an Iraq War veteran who has been in Ukraine since April. And about his wards, he adds that they learn quickly:

They have no choice and time is not on their side. It was dangerous in Afghanistan and Iraq too, but here we are sending these guys to a real, full-fledged war, not some kind of counterinsurgency.

Despite numerous problems during the training of recruits (“Yesterday they were electricians and tractor drivers,” Sologub notes), Tomberlin is also pleased with their quick learning. By the end of the 10-day course, the two 32-man platoons that he trained had learned to conduct combat operations well in urban and field conditions, set up ambushes, develop and implement plans for surprise attacks.

“These guys have never held a weapon in their hands before, and now they are already able to clear the building,” exclaimed the commander of one of the platoons after the corresponding operation on one of the last days of training.

Main value

“Sweat saves the blood,” battalion commander Alexander Buntov from Kherson quoted Suvorov, whose unit, together with the entire 36th brigade (revived after its virtually complete death in Mariupol), will have to liberate his hometown.

The counter-offensive of the Ukrainian army, announced more than a month ago with the aim of liberating the southern regions, has not fully begun. While Ukraine is bombing Russian supply lines, cutting off troops in Kherson from supply and support, forcing Russia to move troops south from the eastern regions.

Former prosecutor Vitaly, who after 40 days of officer training became the commander of one of the platoons trained by Tomberlin, explains:

The plan of the Russians is to break through, regardless of the losses. And in our army, the main value is the life and health of a soldier. Therefore, we need to learn how to outplay the enemy.

An important part of the preparation, US instructors say, is to teach Ukrainians the tactics of US infantry to surprise and confuse the enemy. So, according to the instructors, it is possible to outplay the Russians, who expect the Ukrainians to follow the same Soviet doctrine as they do.

Source: www.moscowtimes.ru

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