Giving Ukraine Javelin man-portable missile launchers turned into a real buzz. Many were eager to criticize the ‘weak’ Europe and the U.S., saying they did not give the weapons to the country that protects democracy in the entire world. Since the beginning of Donbas conflict, the U.S. political and military leaders have been more and more persistent about non-lethal military assistance for Ukraine – unlike the psyched-up part of the Ukrainian society. The U.S. is keen on training people and sharing with them experience of NATO member countries. One can only speculate how much money Washington pays for the training of Ukrainian servicemen – something U.S. officials mention in their speeches much more frequently than Javelins.
In 2018, Ukraine is to host five large-scale international drills: Rapid Trident, Sea Breeze, as well as multinational exercises – Light Avalanche and Clear Sky and Ukraine-Romania drills, The Riverian. The exercises aim to make Ukrainian troops more compatible with those of the Alliance’s member countries.
Previously, 112 International reported on NATO standards and the course of their implementation in the Ukrainian army, considering its current state of affairs. For the sake of better understanding of these drills, we will remind the audience several theses from previous reports.
The Alliance consists of almost 30 member countries; each of them has its own peculiarities in managing its troops. Every member country has its own national system of standards. However, when the servicemen act within the NATO contingent, they are guided by the common standards – even which oil to use when greasing the turbines.
The goal of all these drills is the same – to reach compatibility of Ukrainian troops with NATO forces. Standards of the Alliance are not something fancy or something supposed to merely improve the current standards. They are like DSTU, the Ukrainian state-approved quality standard; they are common for all Alliance members – from feeding to planning and managing combat operations. Say, if a commander shapes up an assault team of four men (a British, an American, a Lithuanian and a German), who are supposed to clear the building, he merely assigns the missions. He doesn’t need to waste any time for explanations. Every one of them already knows what his particular task is. So, whenever someone says ‘aspiring for NATO standards’, it is about compatibility and simplicity of working, planning, giving orders and completing combat missions together with Ukrainian servicemen.
In January, the President signed the law ‘On the approval of the Presidential decision about letting foreign armies’ units into Ukraine for participation in multinational drills in 2018’ and approved hosting these exercises. The document stipulates which particular units are allowed in Ukraine this year, their field strength, the kinds and numbers of their armament and military vehicles, the period of their stay, etc. It also designates the location of troops within the specified periods of drills.
1. The multinational drill on training army units
This is the tactical drill, which is already running at Yavoriv firing range in Starychi, Lviv region (western Ukraine). Since January till the end of the year, the servicemen will practice in planning and conducting military operations within multi-national contingents. The Ukrainian Army plans to send 10,000 people and ten aircraft. The U.S. sends up to 1,500 servicemen with military vehicles, including three airplanes and helicopters. Other Alliance member countries will send approximately the same amount of troops.
As far as funding is concerned, Ukraine pays for the fuel for its military vehicles and the services regarding the customs procedures on the state border. The rest of participants pay for transport services for their respective units, accommodation and feeding, and cover their own needs in fuel.
One of Ukrainian units, a battalion of the 14th Detached Mechanized Brigade began practicing at Yavoriv range on January 22 – as scheduled.
2. Ukraine-U.S. exercise Rapid Trident 2018 (Ukraine, the USA)
Rapid Trident, the Ukraine-U.S. military exercise has been taking place at the International Centre for Peacekeeping and Security in Lviv region since 2006. This year, the drills will be running from June through November; then, the servicemen will show what they’ve learned – in front of their superior officers and the media. The schedule says that the exercise involves about 4,000 servicemen plus 30 planes and helicopters. Ukraine’s Armed Forces will send up to 2,000 soldiers and ten aircraft. The U.S. is to send 1,000 servicemen and ten aircraft. The rest of participants will join in from other member countries of the Alliance and those from the ‘Partnership for Peace’ program. Within these drills, Ukraine will pay for feeding and fuel materials for its own army and, again, for the services regarding the customs procedures on the state border. The rest of the participants feed, transport and re-fuel their vehicles within their own means.
On January 29, Ukraine’s General Staff of the Armed Forces reported that the hosting side began planning the largest ground force exercises within Rapid Trident 2018; they involve ground units of Ukrainian and foreign armies. The hosts are now working on the joint documents, which stipulate every particular stage of the forthcoming exercises.
3. Ukraine-U.S. exercise Sea Breeze 2018
This command post exercise has been held in Ukraine since 1997; this year, the area of the drills will involve the waters of the Black Sea, military air fields and shooting ranges of Ukrainian army, landing strips at Tendrivska sandspit (Ochakiv, Mykolaiv region, southern Ukraine); the international airport and sea ports of Odesa, as well as the naval base in Ochakiv. The goal is to improve the level of coordination and interaction among the countries of the Black Sea region – except Russia, as well as conducting manoeuvres on sea and land. The drills will be running from June till October.
The overall field strength makes 3,700 servicemen with weaponry and military vehicles, up to 50 naval vessels, 30 aircraft and up to five submarines. Ukraine’s Armed Forces will send 1,500 men, 30 ships and ten aircraft. The United States is to send up to 1,000 men, two submarines, ten ships and ten aircraft. Other countries will add up to 1,200 soldiers, up to ten naval vessels, three submarines and up to ten aircraft.
Ukraine pays for customs services, representational expenses, accommodation for those participating on the behalf of the Ukrainian Army. Other countries will pay for the transport services back and forth, the fuel, as well as for accommodation and feeding for their respective troops.
4. Multinational drills Light Avalanche 2018
From August till October, Yavoriv firing range will host the training session of Tysa, the multinational engineering battalion that consists of Ukrainian, Romanian, Hungarian and Slovakian units. The battalion emerged in 2002, as a rapid response team that prevents and reacts to any possible flood, which may threaten the countries in the Carpathian region – specifically, in the basin of Tysa river, which flows on the border of Ukraine, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.
This year, 600 servicemen with weapons and armored vehicles will be joining the exercise. Ukraine is to send 300 fighters, the other countries will send 100 soldiers each.
5. Multinational drills Clear Sky 2018
‘Maintaining the operative and combat compatibility in the airspace over Europe is our common priority. This is why Ukraine and the neighboring countries will host the Clear Sky 2018, the joint military maneuvers of air forces’. These were the words of Viktor Muzhenko, the head of the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces during his meeting with U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander Tod D. Walters.
The tactical exercises will be running in the skies over Ukraine and on the military air bases across Ukraine, from May through November 2018. 700 armed servicemen and approximately 40 aircraft will participate. 350 men and 20 aircraft will be joining in on the behalf of the Ukrainian Army; the U.S. Army will send 250 men and 15 aircraft. The rest will come from other NATO member countries.
Ukraine will pay for customs services, accommodation and feeding for its participants and for the fuel for the army’s vehicles; the Alliance member countries are to pay for transport services, fuel, accommodation and feeding for their respective participants.
6. Ukraine-Romania drills Riverian 2018
The goal of these drills is ‘to improve the coordination of efforts of maritime units of the Ukrainian Army and those of the participant countries as they organize and conduct operations, aiming for regional security in the Black Sea region’, as the plan puts it. Besides, the units will work on their patrolling skills and those regarding search and rescue operations.
The designated area of the drills covers Danube river and its creek, as well as the waters of the Black Sea and the territory of Romania.
The Riverian will involve up to 200 servicemen, ten vessels and 2 aircraft. Ukraine will send a hundred men and four boats; Romania is to send the rest of the mentioned forces. The exercises will be running from April till November 2018.
Besides, Ukrainian troops plan to join the international drills in other countries – 23 various exercises slated for this year, to be precise. Ukrainians are to participate in the drills in Germany, Georgia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania, Norway and Poland. Ukraine’s Defence Ministry plans to spend roughly 1.3 million U.S. dollars to prepare the troops for these drills; these funds have been assigned from the ministry’s budget.
Last but not least – let’s not forget that the American government pays well for participation and assistance of the U.S. troops in the drills that are held in Ukraine. In late 2017, President Donald Trump signed the defense budget, which stipulates that 350 million dollars will go to cover Ukraine’s needs in the defense and security area. Apart from U.S. instructors training Ukrainian servicemen, that also includes treatment of the wounded Donbas conflict veterans in the U.S. medical facilities. Besides, part of the money is supposed to be used for boosting the combat effectiveness of the Ukrainian Navy and the Air Force.