New Zealand Defence Force personnel have overseen training for more than 2500 Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) recruits in the United Kingdom.
CAPTION: A New Zealand soldier observes a Ukrainian Army training activity in England. Photo by (ADF) Corporal Jonathan Goedhart.
The United Kingdom recently announced 30,000 AFU recruits had received training, since the UK-based programme began in June 2022.
The NZDF first contributed artillery trainers to instruct AFU members in the 105mm Light Gun.
Since September 2022, the NZDF has been deploying personnel to the UK to provide infantry training for AFU recruits.
Working through Ukrainian interpreters, NZDF personnel deliver a basic infantry training course, instructing recruits on skills needed to survive and be effective on the battlefield.
The course covers the basic principles of shooting, moving and communicating in different environments, by day and night, while reinforcing the law of armed conflict.
This training conditions the recruits to the realities of the conflict through battle inoculation, enabling them to survive and adapt on the battlefield while remaining effective at all times.
The AFU recruits range in age, and come from a variety of places and backgrounds.
With Romania recently confirming its involvement, other countries that contribute to training in the UK include Canada, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Australia.
The NZDF currently has its fifth deployment of trainers in the UK, with preparations underway to send the sixth deployment in 2024.
Major Tom Kelly, the senior national officer for the current NZDF contingent, is on his second deployment in that role.
“The mission has matured in the space of 12 months due to the nature of the threat and terrain the AFU are engaged with in Ukraine,” he said.
“Over the past 12 months New Zealand trainers have displayed their professionalism and humility when delivering training to the AFU, building a strong reputation for being world class instructors in the delivery of basic soldiering skills.”
Major Kelly said the fact several members of the contingents have returned for a second rotation, is testament to the strong sense of purpose and pride New Zealand soldiers and officers have for this mission.
“Our professional soldiers find this a rewarding experience, as they pass on their knowledge and experience to build up the Ukrainian recruits.
“Ukrainian people are patriotic with a strong sense of purpose, desire and resilience to fight. They love their country and are defending their way of life against Russia.
“They apply themselves and absorb everything our soldiers can teach them, growing in confidence as they gain the skills they need to survive and be effective on the battlefield,” Major Kelly said.
The infantry training team in the UK is made up of soldiers and officers from across 1 (NZ) Brigade including artillery, armour, engineers and logistics, as well as infantry personnel.
The NZDF also has personnel deployed in intelligence, liaison and logistics support roles in the UK and Europe as part of the international community’s support for Ukraine.