Military capabilities are important, but new capabilities mean little if the troops fielding those weapons don’t know how or when to use them.
The United States, NATO allies and partners are working together to train Ukrainian military personnel on new systems and the tactics and techniques that make those weapon systems so effective.
This is a continuation of the training the Ukraine military has received since Russia first invaded the nation in 2014, Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said during a press conference today.
“Tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers have received training since 2014, and that pace has accelerated following Russia’s unprovoked invasion in February. U.S. service members are providing Ukrainian soldiers with training on various weapons systems that we’re providing to Ukraine,” Ryder said. This includes maintenance and logistics training to ensure the systems stay operational, he said.
The United States has provided more than $11 billion in aid to Ukraine since January 2021. This includes systems like the Javelin anti-armor system, the Stinger anti-aircraft weapon, unmanned aerial systems, grenade launchers, howitzers, helicopters, tactical vehicles, counter-artillery radars, armored personnel carriers, high-mobility artillery rocket systems and millions of rounds of ammunition.
Russia began its brutal war on Ukraine with an incredible edge in men and materiel. Ukraine’s will and resilience was such that the Ukrainian military drove Russia away from its attacks on the capital of Kyiv and brought Russian advances in the Donbass region in the eastern part of Ukraine to a standstill. Now Ukraine has launched an offensive in and around Kherson Oblast, and Ryder said there are indications that the Ukrainian military is pushing forward.
Ukraine is being resupplied. Since replacing Soviet-era weapons systems, their capabilities are better now.
Meanwhile, “we do have indications that Russia has approached North Korea to request ammunition,” Ryder said. “I’m not able to provide any more detail than that at this point in time, but it does demonstrate and is indicative of the situation that Russia finds itself in, in terms of its logistics and sustainment capabilities as it relates to Ukraine.”
Last week, Russia also bought unmanned aerial vehicles from another rogue state: Iran.
Logistics and sustainment have never been a long suit for the Russian military, “so the fact that they’re reaching out to North Korea is a sign that that they’re having some challenges on the sustainment front,” the general said.
Training is responsible for Ukraine’s greatest advantage over the Russian invaders. The Ukraine military ditched the old Soviet style of tactics and began emulating the West, and that included building a competent and empowered non-commissioned officer corps. “Working with the Ukrainians in terms of NCO leadership is something that we have done,” Ryder said. “This is a strategic advantage in a lot of ways of the U.S. military and many Western militaries.”
Small Ukrainian units led by sergeants are making a difference on the battlefield. These units move faster and do more than the Russian enemies.
The Ukrainian military — even in the exigencies of war — continue to stress NCO training, U.S. officials said.