Ukrainian particular operations forces in focus

Ukrainian Particular Operations Forces and US Army Special Forces troopers assigned to tenth Special Forces Group (Airborne) enter an enemy-occupied constructing throughout Train ‘Mixed Resolve XI’ on the Joint Multinational Readiness Middle in Hohenfels, Germany. Ukrainian SOF elements have frequently educated with their NATO counterparts. (US Particular Operations Command)

As Russian Armed Forces proceed their invasion of Ukraine, minimal data has been printed relating to the actions of the Ukrainian Particular Operations Forces (SOF), who’re enjoying a pivotal function within the battle.

The Ukrainian Particular Operations Command (SOCOM) was established in December 2015 and has expanded to function 4 military particular operations regiments; three navy particular operations regiments; and two coaching centres. Its energy lies at roughly 2,000 members, though the target is to have a complete pressure dimension of 4,000. Since its inception, the SOCOM has positioned an emphasis on growing a contemporary pressure with tools and practices aligned with NATO SOF components.

In 2015 the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence (MoD) signed a Letter of Intent signalling the SOCOM’s plans to co-operate with NATO Particular Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) – a transfer that included the deliberate certification of SOF items to work alongside their worldwide companions within the NATO Response Power.

Order of battle

Ukrainian military SOF items embody the third and eighth SOF regiments, based mostly in Kirovograd and Khmelnytskyi, respectively, and tasked with endeavor direct motion and particular reconnaissance missions as a part of wider inner safety campaigns.

Every unit is 300-strong, and is subdivided into corporations and platoons with SOF operators specialising in fight engineering, heavy weapons, communications, and fight medication. Extra specialist coaching contains navy freefall, chilly climate operations, and mountain warfare.

In March 2020 the third SOF regiment started the method of endeavor NATO certification, enabling it to help coalition operations by the availability of a Particular Operations Land Process Group.

Additionally included inside Ukrainian military SOF is the 61st Jager Infantry Brigade, which was established in April 2019 to offer a functionality much like the US Army’s seventy fifth Ranger Regiment. The brigade could be tasked with intelligence-gathering and force-protection missions to help the third and eighth SOF regiments particularly. Nevertheless, additionally it is able to endeavor unbiased operations.

The SOF coaching centre in Khmelnytskyi runs the SOF Qualification Course, which handpicks volunteers from throughout the broader armed forces for service inside SOF. The choice course was developed together with NATO SOF companions from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania with simply 20% of candidates efficiently passing the six-month course and progressing to continuation coaching. The varsity has additionally benefitted from a USD1.5 million funding by the US Division of Protection (DoD), one other key supporter of the Ukrainian SOCOM.

Directing employees on the SOF coaching centre are educated at one other SOF facility – the 142nd coaching centre – situated in Berdychiv. The coaching centre is supported by the US-led Joint Multinational Coaching Group-Ukraine (JMTG-U), which options NSHQ, Poland’s Particular Operations Element Command, the US Army’s tenth Special Forces Group, and the aforementioned Baltic companions.

Instructors are educated in land navigation, superior marksmanship and enhanced management along with small-unit techniques, strategies, and procedures, and concrete warfare. The coaching centre encompasses a live-fire vary advanced the place SOF practice on small arms, mortars, machine weapons, computerized grenade launchers (AGLs), sniper rifles, in addition to handguns.

The Ukrainian Navy’s SOF items embody the one hundred and fortieth Particular Objective Centre; 801st Anti-Diversionary Detachment; and 73rd Maritime SOF Centre, that are based mostly in Khmelnytskyi, Mykolaiv, Ochakiv and Maysky Island.

Though able to conducting ground-based operations, navy SOF items are centered on safety within the Black Sea with mission units starting from maritime counter-terrorism and fight diving to particular reconnaissance and underwater demolitions.

Measuring manpower much like Ukrainian military SOF, naval items are additionally damaged down into particular operations corporations and platoons. In 2021 the one hundred and fortieth Particular Objective Centre was licensed for NATO particular operations following bilateral coaching initiatives with the likes of the US Naval Particular Warfare Command.

In 2019 the MoD additionally established a devoted SOF Air Element to help military and navy SOF items. Geared up with Mil Mi-8T helicopters and Antonov An-70 transport plane, the SOF Air Element facilitates the insertion, extraction, and resupply of small unit groups throughout the nation.

SOF items additionally work intently with the Ukrainian Ministry of Inside’s (MoI’s) ‘Omega’ and ‘Vega’ CT groups, in addition to the Nationwide Guard of Ukraine‘s Azov particular mission unit, which falls below the operational management of the MoI.

Joint coaching

Help from the worldwide SOF neighborhood has come from nations corresponding to Canada, Denmark, Romania, and the UK, who’ve supported the power of Ukrainian SOF to counter Russian particular operations items particularly.

In February 2019 representatives from these nations convened at a convention in Ukraine to analyse the actions of the Russian SOF. The Chief of the Basic Workers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the time, Basic Viktor Muzhenko, acknowledged: “We already ready the plans for counteracting varied situations of disaster conditions. Our activity is to not decelerate the tempo of introduction of latest requirements in coaching, technical tools, and complete provision of home particular operations forces.”

Abroad help has additionally come from Georgia, Israel, Sweden, and Norway’s Particular Operations Command, which signed a strategic settlement with Ukraine in February 2020 to offer directing employees to help coaching necessities.

In June 2021 Ukrainian SOF performed a Chemical, Organic, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) train within the Chernobyl exclusion zone, which included a tactical search of a chemical laboratory. Coaching was aimed toward NATO Response Power (NRF) certification, defence sources advised to

In recent times, Ukrainian SOF have participated in an intensive variety of joint coaching packages with NATO and non-NATO companions. Examples embody a number of coaching programmes with the US Particular Operations Command Europe to “prolong ranges in co-operation and belief with a purpose to defend extra successfully towards Russian aggression”, based on an April 2021 assembly.

Workouts included the usage of CV-22 Osprey plane to facilitate fast-rope insertion into goal areas along with help from MC-130J Commando II fixed-wing plane.

Related workout routines have been performed with the UK MoD, together with coaching of the 73rd Naval Centre onboard the Royal Navy’s HMS

Ukrainian SOF have additionally participated in multilateral coaching programmes together with the workout routines ‘Mixed Resolve’; ‘Sea Breeze’; ‘Trojan Footprint’; and ‘Saber Junction’.

Concurrently, Ukrainian SOF continued to help the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) in japanese Ukraine following the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Following a July 2020 ceasefire settlement in Donbas between Ukraine’s MoD and pro-Russian militant teams, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described how SOCOM “should work extra to stop [provocations by pro-Russian militants] and be extra aggressive to counter the challenges posed by the enemy”.

Materiel help

With a goal to section out its stock of Russian tools by 2025, the Ukrainian SOCOM continues to obtain uplifts in Western materiel – a pattern which has been expedited throughout the course of this newest battle.

Ukraine SOF intently resemble their NATO companions, usually wearing MultiCam sample uniforms, physique armour, and load-carrying tools, in addition to high-cut Modular Built-in Communications Helmets. SOF have additionally been photographed carrying L3Harris’s Floor Panoramic Evening Imaginative and prescient Goggles.

Past NLAW, Javelin, AT4 and RPG-26 weapon techniques, Ukrainian SOF additionally acquired a number of hundred RPV-16 thermobaric rocket launchers from Ukroboronprom in 2020 following intensive acceptance assessments towards gentle armoured autos and sheltered enemy forces at ranges as much as 1 km. Nevertheless, any employment throughout the present marketing campaign is but to be confirmed.

By way of mobility, SOF function AM Basic Excessive Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Autos (HMMWVs) and rigid-hull inflatable boats, supplied by the US DoD. They’ve trialled indigenously manufactured 4×4 all-terrain autos for so-called ‘fly and drive’ operations when deployed from the cargo holds of rotary and fixed-wing property.

Able to carrying 5 operators, autos could be armed with 12.7 mm DShKM heavy machine weapons, computerized grenade launchers, anti-tank guided munitions, and 120 mm mortars.

Ukrainian SOF even have entry to the 4×4 Kamrat armoured private provider (APC), which is designed to help particular operations with tactical and guarded insertion of as much as 10 operators.

Manufactured by Ukrainian Armor, the APC is protected as much as NATO STANAG 4569 Degree 3, offering assault groups with a protected mobility functionality in city environments. SOF additionally function a cell 120 mm mortar platform, built-in onboard the Bars-8 multi-purpose armoured automobile.

In June 2020 the US State Division accepted the sale of 16 SAFE Boats Worldwide Mark VI patrol boats to Ukraine, which might be used to help maritime safety operations.

Floor vessels are outfitted with Seahawk A2 gun techniques, MK44 cannons, FLIR radars, long-range acoustic gadgets, and different particular mission tools, based on an official assertion supplied by Washington.

Past its present fleet of Russian helicopters, SOF even have entry to MoI H125 and H225 helicopters from Airbus Helicopters, following an settlement signed in 2018.

By way of intelligence-gathering, SOF are supported by Bayraktar TB2 unmanned fight aerial autos (UCAVs) following the completion of analysis assessments in Khmelnytskyi area in March 2019.

A complete of 12 UCAVs had been procured following an preliminary buy settlement in January 2019. The fixed-wing UCAVs can be utilized to help intelligence, surveillance, goal acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR), in addition to fire-support missions, and could be outfitted with sensor payloads and a collection of munitions.

In November 2021 Ukrainian SOF additionally acquired a pair of SYCH M30 counter-sniper techniques from the native firm Archer. Multifunctional electro-optical techniques embody cooled thermal imaging cameras used to detect and observe enemy snipers in all climate situations. They’re additionally capable of detect protected optics and surveillance gadgets utilized by enemy sniper groups.