More Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) personnel have commenced training for combat under the instruction of Australian Army soldiers in southern England.
CAPTION: Trainees from the Armed Forces of Ukraine receive instruction from Australian Army trainers deployed on Operation Kudu in the UK. Story and photo by Lieutenant Commander Ryan Zerbe.
The Ukrainian trainees – many civilians just a few weeks ago – are preparing for duty on the front lines of Ukraine’s fight against the illegal invasion by Russia, which commenced almost two years ago.
More than 30,000 Ukrainians have trained to become soldiers since June last year as part of a wider UK-led and based training program.
This is the second cohort to be trained by the fourth rotation of Australian personnel deployed on Operation Kudu.
Many of the Ukrainians are receiving their first exposure to infantry fighting skills from the primarily Darwin-based diggers. Over the coming weeks they will build their skills in handling weapons, trench and urban warfare tactics, combat casualty care and safely managing explosive ordnance, such as undetonated enemy artillery shells.
Commander of the Australian contingent, Major John Moulton, said the experience and skills being delivered by his team were vital to the trainees’ rapid transformation into battle-ready soldiers.
“We want every trainee to complete this program as ready as they possibly can be to go to the front lines to fight and win,” Major Moulton said.
“Their nation is facing an existential threat and every one of them wants to see democracy retained and peace returned to Ukraine. Some have harrowing stories but they all passionately believe in their cause and it’s an honour for the Australians here to help enable them to defend their home.
“We’ve taken the lessons from the last cohort of trainees and of previous Kudu rotations to ensure the time we have with this new group achieves the maximum benefit so they’re ready when they need it most.”
One Australian Army trainer deployed on the operation said the trainees included students, hospitality workers and tradespeople.
“They come from regular lives but they now have to be prepared quickly to defend their country,” she said.
“I start with the basics like how to configure their body armour based on their dominant hand and how to face the enemy in a way that offers the most protection from enemy fire via the plates in their combat ensemble.
“From there we work up towards more advanced infantry skills, like how to clear a trench or building as a team and effectively fire and manoeuvre. We have access to training locations to simulate those environments as well as woodland areas where they can learn to conceal themselves.”
Rotation Four deployed to the UK in September, building on the work done by three previous rotations since January this year.
Operation Kudu is the ADF’s commitment to a wider UK-led mission alongside Canada, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Lithuania, the Netherlands and, most recently, Romania.