Royal Marines have spent more than six months training nearly 1,000 Ukrainian counterparts in the art of commando raiding and complex amphibious operations. Specialist instructors from across the UK Commando Force passed on invaluable expertise and knowledge in how to plan and carry out raids using small boats by day and night. Each group under training underwent a rigorous five-week programme, developing individual skills including living/survival in the field, battlefield first aid, close quarters combat, and fitness, and unit planning in realistic scenarios. The training will further support Ukraine’s capability to develop its own marine force and an international training concept for marines. Approximately 900 Ukrainian marines completed the course, which included instruction in the use of mortars, Next Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapons (NLAW) and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, drones for reconnaissance, and explosive demolition of obstacles such as Dragon’s Teeth anti-vehicle fortifications.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “The UK has led the way in training the Armed Force of Ukraine, providing world-leading training in frontline combat skills to more than 20,000 of Ukraine’s Army recruits through Operation Interflex. This programme of training, delivered by elite British commandos, will support Ukraine to build its own distinct marine force and expand its capability to operate in a maritime environment.”
One unnamed Ukrainian Marine said: “The training I have received from the UK Royal Marines has been far more intense than I expected. I have learned so much and never expected to be doing the things I have done. All the way through, our British instructors have been beside us, showing us how to move and how to work together in a small team – this will make a difference when we return home to Ukraine.”
Equipment used in the training has been identical to some of the military support the UK has provided to Ukraine – such as more than 10,000 anti-tank weapons, including thousands of NLAW systems already provided. Trainees came from a variety of backgrounds from civilian volunteers with no prior military experience to those who’ve transferred from other sections within the Armed Forces of Ukraine – some having already been engaged in combat on the front line. Instructors from 42 Commando and 47 Commando Raiding Group delivered the training, alongside Army Commandos from 24 Commando Engineers and Royal Artillery Gunners from 29 Commando. More than 20,000 recruits from the Armed Forces of Ukraine have already received training in the UK since the start of 2022, learning essential frontline skills including trench and urban warfare, leadership, and medical training.
At the start of 2023, the UK committed to train a further 20,000 Ukrainian recruits – approximately double the amount trained last year – under one of the largest training programmes of its kind in the world. Beyond teaching combat skills to recruits, the UK has provided a broad package of in other skills including medical training and the training of military chaplains to provide pastoral care, spiritual support and moral guidance. Including both the Op Interflex and the programme for marines, the UK’s training for the Armed Forces of Ukraine is supported by Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden. The UK remains fully committed to supporting Ukraine, with a further £2.3bn already earmarked for further military support through 2023, with additional munitions and equipment to be delivered in the coming months. Further UK government assistance continues in the form of humanitarian support and economic aid.