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IT2EC 2023: Western forces now have trained over 86,000 Ukrainians - what lessons have been learned?

24th April 2023 - 19:00 GMT | by Giles Ebbutt in Rotterdam


With many Ukrainians now having been instructed by Western forces, flexibility and modularisation of training programmes have emerged as a key aspect. (Photo: Netherlands MoD)

New doctrine, tactics, techniques and procedures are reducing casualty rates as Ukrainian forces move towards a more Western outlook.

Col Hennadiy Kovalenko of the Ukrainian Air Force offered his insights on training at the IT2EC event in Rotterdam, based on his experience in coordinating international assistance to the country since 2014.

Speaking during the opening keynote panel session, he noted that more than 86,000 Ukrainians had now received some form of training from international partners including the US, UK, Canada and many other Western nations.

But he noted that ‘just doing training is not enough’, particularly as the Ukrainian Army was converting from its previous Soviet roots to a Western outlook. 

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‘You need to develop new tactics, techniques and procedures [TTPs] and new doctrine,’ he said, adding that a Defence Education Advisory Group had been formed with the help of allies in order to achieve this.

He said that casualties had been dramatically reduced once the new TTPs and doctrine had been adopted and, crucially, personnel had been trained in their execution.

He said that flexibility and modularisation in training programmes was important, noting that ‘the copy and paste solution doesn’t really work’. He also said that introducing a ‘train the trainers’ element into the programme as early as possible was important. 

He also noted the importance of careful planning, harmonisation and organisation to avoid duplication or unnecessary training.

Kovalenko also observed that Ukrainian society as a whole had experienced some sort of training.

Commenting on the procurement and development of equipment, he said that it was vital to connect with the user from the start and to build trust between industry and the military. 

He also noted that the current circumstances provide a very rapid operational feedback loop. ‘New equipment can be deployed on the battlefield, tested, and recommendations for improvements made very quickly,' he said.

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Giles Ebbutt


Giles Ebbutt

Giles Ebbut is a Shephard Media correspondent based in the UK who specialises in C4ISR …

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