Ukrainian Army lacks basic military equipment. Any training is insufficient without high-quality outfit and uniform, including waterproof boots, athletic shoes, and several sets of uniform and kneepads. Most soldiers have boots of poor quality, which are used for all types of activities.
Another problem is shortage of compasses, rulers, and sometimes even maps, not to mention absence of modern GPS navigators and navigating devices.
Most of operations are planned without consideration of water supplies. Camelback, flasks, and big water carriers for platoon purposes are totally absent.
Backpacks are mostly absent in the army, as well as soldier load planning in general. This is a huge error, for each type of operation requires backpacks of certain type and size, and its planned load.
The government provides few to none of binoculars, NVDs, waterproof and thermal clothing, masking tools (such as paint), modern tourniquets and bandages, hemostatic, or modern medical bags; shovels, if supplied, are usually of the worst quality - getting out of use immediately.
Ukrainian combat rations are not good at all - they are too heavy and don't contain enough nutrients to keep a soldier in good health.
We saw units that lacked smoking grenades and signal flares. Recently, the government started to supply bulletproof vests to the army, but they don't reach a lot of units. Flexible light body armor, weighing 2-3 kg and preventing soldiers from carrying 10 or more kilos of old-style metal vests, are very much needed.
Individual badges are still not provided to the majority of the soldiers, despite being quite inexpensive in production and extremely important for identification of bodies in case of soldier's death.
Training of a mobile border checkpoint
2. Training duration
Strong armies usually train their soldiers much longer than the Ukrainian Army does. For instance, in Georgia a soldier's training lasts for three months, in Israel for six months, in the U.S. - starting from eight weeks for army soldiers and from 13 weeks for marines, etc.
Training of an infantryman in Ukraine usually lasts for less than a month, and most of this time soldiers do not actually train but rather perform many unnecessary tasks, such as standing on a drill square for a long time, guarding various unnecessary structures, picking up cartridges after shooting, etc. Usually soldiers would not train after 6 p.m., and have no night drills at all.
3. Multilevel sergeant school
One of the errors of the Ukrainian army system is absence of sergeant school(s). Most sergeants don't have any special training which could have made them actual team leaders. A multilevel sergeant training center shall be created in order to train sergeants of company level, battalion level, and higher for all kinds of the Ukrainian Army units.
4. Training center
There is an urgent need to create modern training centers that will drill soldiers according to new challenges and realities of modern warfare, as opposed to current Ukrainian training system, which follows Soviet war doctrines of the 70's.
These training centers shall train future local instructors in accordance with the best Western standards and by experienced Western instructors/professionals. Preferably, Western instructors should be speaking local language and understand local mentality, as well as the specifics of the Ukrainian (i.e. post-Soviet) military structures and military training.
Newly trained instructors shall in turn pass their knowledge to others at new training centers and directly to the army units as soon as possible.
All instructors shall undergo regular re-training once in a while.
The training centers shall have all necessary kinds of training equipment, including various shooting/combat simulations, since there is often shortage of certain types of ammunition available for training.
Training center shall be divided into specific learning area with clear specialization - shooting ranges, tactics, tactical medicine, topography, engineering, CQB and MOUT, camouflage lessons, specialist training points (RPG, snipers etc.)
Seminar for reserve soldiers
5. Psychological and mental training of soldiers
First of all, a system of soldiers' selection shall be created in the Ukrainian Army, which does not exist due to lack of knowledge, poor implementation, and corruption at mobilization/recruitment points.
Then, there shall be adequate psychological and IQ testing for all soldiers and a special several-day-long test of soldiers' will power and IQ for Special Forces candidates.
We also need to introduce a moral and psychological component to the basic Ukrainian soldiers' training course. It should include special history lessons on Ukrainian war heritage, themed educational weeks, visits to memorable Ukrainian military battles places, and last but not least, education of future soldiers on importance of abiding by human values and human rights code, which will both increase soldiers' fighting ability, unit cohesiveness, and decrease non-combat losses.
Another problem is lack of rehabilitation system. Former soldiers with untreated PTSD are likely to have psychological issues when adapting and functioning in the society in the future (for example, post-Vietnam war increase in amount of crimes).
6. Officer education
Ukrainian officers are still trained in accordance with the old Soviet system and do not have civilian professional degrees or majors in addition to their military education.
An officer should have a civilian diploma/career option in addition to his/her military degree in case he/she wants to leave the army. Most Ukrainian officers don't speak any other language except Russian and/or Ukrainian.
There is a need to create a special Infantry Academy, the educational process in which will be based not only on Russian-Ukrainian war experience, but also on the best global/NATO military knowledge/achievement/lessons/practices.
Before commanding a Battalion or a Brigade, commanding officers shall be obliged to complete their respective schools/courses.
7. Transition to NATO staff/HQ/COC ("Command and Control") system
This system is much better than the Ukrainian one. In the Ukrainian staff system, headquarters, including at the battalion level, do not play any important role. Ukrainian brigade headquarters is two times smaller than its NATO analogue.
Therefore there is a need to create strong headquarters culture, so that HQs could effectively command and control coordination between units and give more battlefields options to commanders on the ground.
There is also a need to transform the Ukrainian COC system into the one conforming to NATO standards, so that Western allies of Ukraine were able to understand better who their counterparts are in order to achieve the most efficient joint actions and cooperation. Also, Western help would be more efficient if our Western Allies understood who their counterparts were.
8. Military reconnaissance//intelligence/scouts
Most of the military reconnaissance units in Ukraine have not had even minimal level of required training. At the same time they must be trained much better than regular infantry units.
They also lack: basic technical equipment such as radars, both counter-battery and anti-aircraft; wiretapping; means to locate enemy command and control centers/headquarters; human intelligence, modern military UAVs of various types and aerial photography; classes and combat assignments; analytical services that would accumulate, analyze, and distribute military intelligence.
9. Military police
Currently, the Ukrainian Military Police ("UMP") is a completely ineffective structure which isn't working preventively at all. It does not have any investigation function; instead it's the office of Military Prosecutor that conducts investigations. The UMP has failed to prevent trafficking of prohibited items since it is not present at the majority of military bases. It showed inability to deal with the problem of alcoholism, which has led to an unacceptably high level of non-combat losses in both manpower and equipment.
The UMP has no operational capabilities at the moment to deal with or to prevent a potential military revolt.
Secure and reliable communications are the most important part of modern military warfare, providing a robust and encrypted coordination, command, and control functions between units on battlefield and their HQs.
Unfortunately, modern military communication systems are virtually absent in the Ukrainian Army today. In many units, officers/soldiers still communicate between themselves and with HQs using retail Motorola walkie-talkies and mobile phones, which are obviously not-secure and vulnerable to be eavesdropped or jammed by the Russian terrorist forces in the Eastern Ukraine.
Thus the need to buy and/or produce modern mil-spec secure communications equipment is very acute.
Kostiantyn Parshyn, Heorhiy Kalandadze, Tzvi Arieli, Patriot Training Center