We all have read the history books about living in trenches and thinking, “My god that must suck so bad!…” well guys I can confirm that the trench life is hardcore.

It’s not often these days that our soldiers get to experience trench warfare, the battlefields of today are not conventional where one might see the use of a trench, it is all about counterinsurgency warfare. But there is a place on earth where the history books are coming to life and that place is Ukraine. World War One tactics being revitalized, with a mix of modern day equipment, makes for one of the most testing and interesting battlefields in the 21st century.

It is all about keeping morale up in the trenches and that is far easier said than done, believe it or not, they prefer winter months down here in the trenches to the spring months. At first, that’s not easy to see why. When I arrived here back-end of January the temperature was -20 with a windchill factor even lower. Covered in snow, it was hard to see how anyone could or want to fight in these extreme conditions. But in the trenches this makes for a cleaner life. The mud is frozen making it a little bit easier to walk around without having a ton of mud stuck to your boots and trailing that around your living area/bed space. The downside is you need to keep what heat you can muster up in the living area and god forbid your blanket covering the doorway fell down!

As spring approaches, the snow begins to melt and the mud rises. The walls start to suck water and what you are left with can only be described as a pigsty. You don’t need to touch the walls or floor, the mud and dirt will find you, no matter how hard I tried to keep clean it was impossible. But somehow you just get on with it what else are you going to do, bitch and cry will only make your time in these shit holes even worse. I like the Ukrainian approach, when the sun is out you will often see guys popping chicken on the barbecue, and sitting outside to the rear of the trench. Sometimes you find them drinking coffee with their buddies sharing a game of cards or playing some old prison board games, betting for cigarettes. It keeps them happy, so why not?

The thing here is some of the trenches were put up in a bit of hurry, and not well designed. We’re talking one straight line kind of thing! Some, on the other hand, will zig zag for over a kilometer with a number of sleeping quarters and some form of a toilet?! With a vast amount of firing positions, depending on which unit you spend your time with here will make the biggest difference. Some units like marines and recon battalions are of course better equipped not only with weapons but with food and water! (Morale)

Every day in the trenches, these soldiers will constantly be on edge that they will be overrun. As result, people tend to do stupid shit! They face daily contact from small arms and artillery lasting a long fucking time. After a while of gazing into the pitch black of nothingness, your mind will start to see things hear things and make shit up! This is why it’s very important to keep you lads fresh and have good rotations going. Not just the staging on, but swapping of troops out from the rear to the trench.