Earlier in July, the Ukrainian Special Operations Command held an intense competition between its Special Operations units.

The competition was broken down into five days of intensive tests that aimed to test the resolve, morale, endurance, capabilities, and professionalism of the teams. There were 11 stages that put the commandos through obstacle courses, adverse weather conditions, and rigorous physical events while testing their small unit tactics proficiency, weapons expertise, and planning. By the end of the competition, the SOF teams had covered over 56 miles.

In a press release, the Ukrainian Special Operations Command said that “this is exactly the kind of competition that helps determine mission readiness under difficult conditions, improve methods of action, enhance cohesion, and exchange combat experience.”

A Ukrainian SOF team traverses a river during the competition.

Last September, the 140th Special Operations Forces Center (140th SOFC) became the first-ever Ukrainian SOF unit to pass NATO’s SOF qualification process and be deemed deployable alongside American and European SOF units. It was also the first non-NATO country to achieve this feat.

Although the title of the unit alludes to a training organization, the 140th SOFC is one of the four operational units of the Ukrainian Special Operations Command. The other three are the 3rd Special Operations Regiment, the 8th Special Operations Regiment, and the 73rd Special Operations Sea Center).

Commandos were also tested on their fast-roping skills.

Ukrainian SOF units have been undergoing a modernization process that would bring them closer to NATO’s SOF capabilities. From small arms to doctrine to tactics, the Ukrainians have been working in overdrive to become more lethal and effective.

Real-world experience can be the best, albeit unforgiving, trainer. In that regard, Ukrainian SOF units have had some solid training ever since Russia annexed Crimea and supported an insurgency in East Ukraine.

Ukrainian Special Operations units share a close training relationship with American and European commandos. The U.S. Army’s 10th Special Forces Group (10th SFG), in particular, has been quite active in the country. Every Special Forces Group (there are seven), focuses on a geographical area of the world. Each Green Beret is proficient in at least one of the languages of their assigned area of operations (in the 10th SFG, for example, Special Forces soldiers can learn Russian, Serbo-Croatian, German, French, Arabic) and also understand the cultures of the countries. They are, thus, the ideal unit to work with allied and partner nations.