Kiev’s forces lack the skills to handle Western weapons, army veterans-turned-trainers have told the paper
Ukrainian recruits fighting in Donbass are undergoing ten-day intensive training courses led by a group of Western ex-military personnel calling themselves the Mozart Group, The Guardian reported on Friday.
Group members told the paper Ukrainian recruits’ training and combat experience was lacking to the point where weapons supplied by the West were largely going to waste.
The company was founded by Andy Milburn, a retired American Marine Corps colonel, who served with the US military for 31 years, and according to The Guardian is mostly funded by “private US donors.” The group also includes other “carefully vetted” Western army veterans from the US, the UK, Ireland, and elsewhere.
The Mozart Group delivers intensive crash courses for Ukrainian soldiers lasting between five and ten days, The Guardian said. The courses involve “basic weapon handling, marksmanship, fire and maneuver and battlefield tactics,” the paper reported, adding that this type of training would normally take six months.
The training seems to give Ukrainian soldiers a significant boost, according to the company instructors. “Only one out of this group of 40 had zeroed his weapon before the training started,” Milburn said. Zeroing a weapon means aligning the sights so that one can aim accurately and is considered to be one of the basics of military training.
The Western instructors also criticized Ukraine’s approach to training and mobilization by calling it “backwards.” “This is what it must have been like in World War One,” a company member identified only as Alex said.
Another member of the Mozart Group, a former advanced paramedic from Ireland identified as Dathan, said that “the Ukrainian government doesn’t want to say that most of their military isn’t really trained.”
According to the group, weapons supplied to Ukraine by Washington and its allies since the start of the conflict between Kiev and Moscow in February are simply not being used correctly due to the lack of experience on the Ukrainian side.
The US-made Javelin portable anti-tank missile systems worth $178,000 each are “misused” or “redundant,” The Guardian said, citing Alex, who argued that the systems’ sophisticated sight batteries are running out before the missiles themselves are fired. “They are not getting the training they need,” Alex, who claimed to have specialized training in using Javelins and the UK-made NLAW missile systems, said.
Since the start of the military conflict with Russia in February, Western backers supplied Kiev with portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems, as well as heavier weapons like German PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers and the US-made HIMARS multiple rocket launchers. In July, US media outlets reported that the diversity of the arms had been creating problems for the Ukrainian military due to their complicated logistics, training, and maintenance.