Ukraine’s armed forces have carried out around 5,000 training drills in 2017, some 30 percent more than last year’s figure, according to the chief of the army’s Operational Training Department, Colonel Ihor Podolyan.
The army has conducted 109 command-staff exercises, 32 brigade-level tactical drills, and 12 flight-training exercises over the past year, Podolyan said during a briefing in Kyiv on Nov. 7.
“Today, conducting brigade-level drills is not a special event, but a usual, everyday routine,” Podolyan said. “Every combat unit trained for missions in the (Donbas war zone) undergoes two brigade-level exercises at two different firing ranges.”
Most of the drill programs for the army now include training in troop deployments, long-distance battle marching, and tactical river crossing, in a variety of terrains. Each arm of the service, including the artillery and armored forces, hold competitions on a regular basis to determine the best-trained units.
“In turn, this positively influences not only the effectiveness of training, but also the prestige of military service,” Podolyan said.
Constant drills are being conducted by the air force as well, with its annual training program now some 95-percent complete, he said. Today, the average air force pilot has 45 hours of flight time, while navy pilots have 29 hours. Meanwhile, each of Ukraine’s naval vessels have been a sea for at least 17 days, which is 86 percent of the planned target.
The General Staff is continuing to work on adapting Ukraine’s army training to NATO standards, Podolyan said. Ukraine will soon approve a military terminology manual for training and deployment of forces, which will help Ukraine’s forces become interoperable with NATO forces, he said.
Apart from that, Ukraine’s best combat units are continuing to receive NATO-style training. In particular, eight infantry battalions and one company have finished Joint Multinational Training Group advanced courses conducted by the U.S. Army. The 95th Airmobile Brigade, one of Ukraine’s elite airborne units, is also undergoing the U.S.-led Striker program, which provides combat training in line with U.S. combat manuals.
“The individual personnel training courses for mechanized brigades, led by Orbital program instructors from Britain, are very effective as well,” Podolyan added. “Such training is scheduled for three more army brigades in 2018.”
The army now has more instructors trained solely to NATO standards, he said. Over the past year 136 drill officers have been trained, and another 34 are completing their training.
Significant amounts are being invested in army training centers, with two new centers opening in 2017, and eight others undergoing renovation. Next year the army will have 17 renovated brigade-level firing ranges, two new camps for recruits, and 10 other training centers, Podolyan said.
The renovated facilities are now equipped with advanced training simulators for BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles, modern BTR-4E personnel carriers, and T-64B main battle tanks, all of which are widely used by Ukraine’s army.