The Lithuanian Grand Duchess Birute Uhlan Battalion has dispatched a training team in support of the multinational Ukrainian training mission. Our Lithuanian partners in this training mission have proven themselves technically and tactically proficient trainers of Ukrainian forces at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center (IPSC) in Starychi, Ukraine.

Lithuanian soldiers are regularly on the line with American forces, ensuring weapons proficiency, providing critical expertise in Soviet-based weapons platforms and vehicles, and ensuring the appropriate translation of the infantry tasks and drills being instructed by American and Canadian forces.

Lithuanian forces are not simply an add-on but the lead in mission-essential training such as the deployment, maintenance, and operation of Ukrainian tactical vehicles such as the BTR-80. They were courteous enough to allow SOFREP to ride along in one of these vehicles.

The BTR-80 is a multi-role vehicle in Ukraine, used throughout the armed forces. It boasts 14.5mm and 7.62mm coaxial machine guns capable of elevating to 60 degrees to engage steep and airborne targets. This amphibious armored personnel carrier, dating from the 1980s, is based upon design principles developed by the Soviets following their Afghanistan campaign. This APC hosts six smoke grenade launchers located at the rear of the turret and has a structural focus on frontal armored protection at a 60-degree arc. It also features a semi-V hull to dissipate undercarriage blasts.

Ongoing development of Ukrainian armor training, the implementation of maneuver elements, and combined arms warfighting are essential to Ukraine’s longterm security and ability to defend itself. The country’s military education in modern warfare will need to continue and will need to showcase the lessons learned from its allies in order to successfully battle against Russian-backed aggression. Ukraine’s current strategy of attrition warfare has proven unsuccessful. It is curious how a player so large has not been able to develop an effective strategy to overpower, rather than delay, the enemy.

A Ukrainian soldier readies his BTR-80 for training. Image courtesy of the author.
A Ukrainian soldier readies his BTR-80 for training. Image courtesy of the author.

Partner nations like America, Canada, and Lithuania can improve the total security picture in Ukraine by providing the critical thinking and tactical ideology of complex, dynamic, and fluid operations to counter developing threats against Ukraine. Such concepts might include decentralized decision-making for commanders—encouraging field commanders (with the provision of communication) to identify and attack the critical vulnerabilities of the enemy as the situation develops. In doing so, the individual frontline commanders can exercise reconnaissance, effectively maneuvering their units to a position of new strategic advantage. This starts with the fundamentals being taught by American, Canadian, and Lithuanian forces at the IPSC.