Tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers have received NATO training to help them face Russia.
But some have said that the lessons do not work well in practice, and have ignored them.
One commander told the Financial Times that if he followed NATO advice to the letter, he’d be dead.
A Ukrainian commander trained by US, British, and Polish soldiers told the Financial Times that if he followed their advice exactly he would be killed.
Western allies of Ukraine have offered training to thousands of troops in the hope of steeling them for battle against Russia’s invasion force.
But some have said that the principles they learn from NATO countries often do not pan out on the battlefield.
“If I only did what [western militaries] taught me, I’d be dead,” said a special-forces commander in Ukraine’s 78th regiment who spoke to the FT. The outlet didn’t give his full name, referring to him as Suleman.
During his training, Suleman said he was offered “some good advice” but also “bad advice … like their way of clearing trenches. I told them: ‘Guys, this is going to get us killed.'”
He isn’t the only Ukrainian soldier who has spoken out against the Western approach to instruction.
A senior intelligence sergeant in the 41st Mechanized Brigade, who goes by the name “Dutchman,” told openDemocracy last month: “I don’t want to say anything against our partners, but they don’t quite understand our situation and how we are fighting.”
The soldiers believe that instructors have never fought a war like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — the first clash of two heavily-armed militaries for decades.
Most Western forces have experience of very different conflicts, like those in Iraq and Afghanistan where their side had huge advantages in resources and far superior technology.
“We need people to understand how to effectively clear trenches, enter them, how to throw grenades effectively, how not to trip on booby traps, to understand what grenades the [Russians] throw — essentially to understand the enemy,” Dutchman told openDemocracy.
In some cases, Ukrainian soldiers have decided to ditch their training completely because it proved ineffective on during their slow-moving counteroffensive, The New York Times reported earlier this year.
A report published by the UK-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) earlier this month argued that Western nations should stop training Ukrainians to become NATO-style officers.
Drills should focus on the conditions on the battlefield Ukrainians are fighting on, RUSI warned, instead of NATO-standard norms because it could increase the risk of things going wrong during live operations.
NATO forces also train Ukrainian soldiers to overwhelm their enemies with the type of firepower that it does not possess.
About 63,000 Ukrainian troops have been trained in the West as of August, openDemocracy reported.
The 35-day crash course basic soldier training is mostly held in Germany and the UK, an unnamed source involved in the process told the outlet.
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