In the wake of Kiev's failed summer counteroffensive against Russian forces, a special forces commander from Ukraine's 78th regiment, known as Suleman, has expressed serious concerns regarding the tactics taught by Western trainers to Ukrainian troops. While acknowledging the value of advice received from American, British, and Polish soldiers during his training, Suleman has sounded a cautionary note, warning that some of these Western methods could potentially endanger the lives of Ukrainian military personnel.
Specifically, Suleman highlighted concerns regarding trench clearing techniques taught by Western instructors. He cautioned against following these methods, emphasizing that they might put Ukrainian soldiers at risk on the battlefield.
Military analysts Michael Kofman and Rob Lee have added their voices to this growing concern, shedding light on the shortcomings of the training period provided to Ukrainian troops by Western experts. One of the key takeaways from Kiev's ill-fated counteroffensive was the realization that the five week training period was insufficient for adequately preparing Ukrainian forces for the complex and dynamic battlefield they faced.
Kofman and Lee noted that Western instructors often lacked a comprehensive understanding of Ukraine's military operations and the challenging operating environment. This lack of insight led to unrealistic expectations, misguided advice, and unwarranted criticism in Western circles.
The battlefield conditions during the counteroffensive further complicated matters for Ukraine's forces. Minefields, fortified positions, and the use of drones by Russian troops made it nearly impossible for Ukrainian forces to adhere to NATO's combined arms warfare doctrine, which relies on coordinated and synchronized actions across various units. Instead, Kofman and Lee concluded that Ukrainian forces excelled in small, highly maneuverable assault units but struggled to manage larger scale operations at the company or platoon level.
Kiev's much anticipated counteroffensive, which commenced in early June, ultimately fell short of gaining significant territorial advantages and resulted in heavy casualties for Ukrainian forces. Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that Ukraine had suffered over 71,000 troop casualties and lost 543 tanks during the counteroffensive. He accused Ukraine's leadership of pursuing its goals "at any cost" without regard for the lives of its citizens.