Ukraine’s Marines Urge Patience With Counterattack Against Russia

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Approximately 36,000 Ukrainian troops have received training in combined arms combat over the past few months. The training, which follows NATO standards, was expected to help the troops spearhead a counteroffensive against the Russian military. However, some brigades suffered heavy losses in the initial stages of the operation. The New York Times was allowed to visit several marine brigades on the front lines, where troops spoke about their role in the counteroffensive.

These new brigades are different from other Ukrainian units, as they are trained and equipped according to NATO standards. They carry American M4 assault rifles and drive repainted Humvees for better camouflage in Ukraine’s lush countryside. Many of the troops expressed surprise at how quickly they transitioned to NATO weapons and praised the new systems and vehicles. However, they also acknowledged that the fight would be long and difficult, cautioning that every meter of the tree line is a challenge.

The Ukrainian military does not release casualty numbers, but one battalion commander acknowledged heavy casualties in the initial days of the counteroffensive. The losses led to public recriminations in Ukraine, with soldiers blaming commanders for pushing raw recruits into battle and using untested units. Some troops also criticized the adequacy of their training and the appropriateness of some Western vehicles for the task. However, Ukrainian officials stated that they had little choice but to train recruits due to the lack of available experienced troops.

Despite the heavy losses, the marine commanders did not judge the performance of others in the counteroffensive. They noted that soldiers can get disoriented or panic in battle and that casualties were not unexpected. The Russian forces had months to prepare a layered defense, digging in and laying extensive minefields, which gave them an advantage. The marines expressed gratitude for the Western armored vehicles, which they believed saved lives and were superior to the outdated Soviet-era tanks and armored vehicles they had previously used.

Commanders emphasized the importance of further training for new recruits and mixing them with experienced marines for operations. Planning and reconnaissance were highlighted as key factors, with commanders taking a considered approach and not underestimating the enemy. They acknowledged that the counteroffensive would not be swift or easy but expressed confidence in finding weaknesses to exploit.

Overall, the Ukrainian troops remain determined and optimistic, despite the challenges they face. They acknowledge the difficulty of the fight but stress the importance of steady preparation and a gradual, methodical approach to achieve their goals.

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