Ukraine’s Army: between the past and the future

Author : Valentyn Badrak

Source : 112 Ukraine

A man in uniform should become a priority in Ukraine's defense reform - expert
15:11, 19 October 2016

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Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

Once again finding itself on the brink, Ukraine has made its choice and won. Ukrainians stopped "plague of Putin," effectively proved that they are able to withstand the Russian army. Army together with the volunteer battalions not only stopped the aggressor, but gave birth to constant demotivation to deploy a large-scale war.

In fact, between the Ukrainian army of early 2014 year and the end of 2016 is the gap. The army as an armed society has made a furious leap to a qualitatively new meaning of the institution. Armed Forces in practice become a real deterrent shield, it is the human element in action. It is important that the lower and middle levels of the system of command and control responding to the provocation of the enemy was very powerful - from June 2, 2015, after a successful counter-attacks in Marinka, Russian-terrorist groups do no longer feel as masters of the situation. This is due to the awakening of patriotism and national idea, and the key to this change was the first change in society's attitude towards its own armed forces. Society revived the authority of the army and by this supports soldiers, and in the community anyway, and power moves. This is how we should assessed the plans to increase the defense budget in 2017 to 64 billion, or nearly 2.5% of GDP, what is by 23% more compared with the current year. About 11.5 billion UAH from the new defense budget would go for the development of weapons and military equipment.

Related: Poltorak, Yovanovitch discuss reforms in Ukrainian army

 Society today boasts the moral and fighting spirit of the army and the General Staff of Russia openly fears these national manifestations, despite the fact that while specific structural reforms within the army did not happen – Ukraine’s Armed Forces is still in Soviet pressures standards. The army has not been subjected to system solutions of military and political leadership of the state, as evidenced by a shortage of units on the front line, and the vetoing the law allowing military-contractors "break the contract before the end of special period.”

Related: Muzhenko: Russia could send another army corps to Donbas

We expect and appropriate solutions to radically changing the appearance and modernization of the Armed Forces modernization, as well as the development of the national defense industry. "New Army is the new Ukrainian military, new soldiers. Very motivated, patriotic, professional, and young," said Poroshenko September 16, 2016, during the plenary of the annual meeting of Yalta European Strategy. But in practice the government does little for real change in strengthening the defense. Although the General Staff has announced rejection of the new wave of mobilization (in the end of the year, they expecte to recruit some 15 - 18 thousand, by 2016, 53 thousand had signed contracts with the Armed Forces about 11,000 of them are of the number of mobilized military), we need a lot to do for real professionalization of the army. Since the number of nearly 280,000 soldiers when the maintenance is over 80% of the defense budget, will not ensure the development of rail transition to a professional army and the deployment of large-scale retooling for new models of weapons and military equipment.

Related: Army to get 40 new armored vehicles by late 2016

We agree that during the active phase of the war in 2014 - 2015 years this deploying of troops was the only possible way of salvation of the state - in terms of absence of resources. But now the situation has changed, so the time in military affairs change approaches. Specifically we have to publish and approve the State Program of Armed Forces (and the State Program of DIC), adopt a law on territorial defense troops and deploy training system resource mobilization through local administration. Start to build the core of a professional army, which would provide attractive early retirement of the soldiers, preferential terms of housing, education, free medical care, insurance, monetized system of rewards and a much higher level financial support.

Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

Future Army needs the new modern weapons. Recall that in late September, Arms Armed Forces informed about the passing of an important phase of the project "Vilkha" - a new system based "Smerch" system. But even the new tank "Oplot" has not got the troops. Not to mention air defense systems, combat aircraft or unmanned systems.

Related: Pentagon is concerned about the approach of Russian army to Ukrainian borders

Of course, in this area there is hope for change in the US after the elections and increase of its military-technical assistance. NATO decided to increase aid to Ukraine to reform the security and defense sectors. This decision was made during the meeting of the Ukraine - NATO Commission in Brussels on 22 - 23 September. But without major inner changes we should not expect for the revolutionary outer events. While "Ukroboronprom" delivers only what it might produce. But national defense is not able to provide the bulk of the needs of the Armed Forces, and in the most important range of weapon systems and services. So the government will have to prepare the proper conditions for cooperation with the West, and Ukrainian companies should provide more opportunities.

Related: Ethnic Ukrainian takes over Canadian Army

So, Ukraine has real potential to create armies of the future and its sustainable development. A man in uniform should become a priority of the defense reform. Ukraine’s civil society, which is more powerful than the government, should be more focused on the interests of those who protect the independence of the state.

Related: Ukrainian army officer released from captivity in Donbas

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