US Defense Seniors Praise Ukrainian Military for Good Use of Foreign Weaponry

Photo credit: the 24th Mechanized Brigade of Ukrainian Armed Forces press center
Photo credit: the 24th Mechanized Brigade of Ukrainian Armed Forces press center

​Ukrainians are highly effective in using weapons provided by Western partners, said US Defense Minister Lloyd Austin and US Army's Chief of Staff General Mark Milley

The two senior Pentagon officials praised Ukrainian military for the highly effective defense against the russian invasion and speculated over the key factors that contributed to the successful defensive operation so far. Defense Minister Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs shared their thoughts during a hearing at US Senate on Tuesday, May 3, Ukrinform news agency reports.

The Joint Chiefs chairman praised the Ukrainian army for the effective use of western weaponry provided by Ukraine's international partners, including the USA. According to him, the most effective use of donated weaponry was made by the anti-tank and air defense units:

Read more: USA to Send More Javelin Anti-Tank Missiles to Destroy russia’s Tanks in Ukraine

"You're seeing the ubiquitous use of precision munitions, you're seeing the use of drones, for example, unmanned aerial vehicles, you're seeing the very effective use of air defense systems," Gen Mark Milley said. "And of course, Javelin is what we have, but, many of the countries are providing all kinds of NLAWs and kind of Gustafs and RPGs, a wide variety of anti-tank weapons."

Defense Express / Gen Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during the meeting on the 2023 budget request, on Tuesday May 3rd / US Defense Seniors Praise Ukrainian Military for Good Use of Foreign Weaponry
Gen Mark Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin during the meeting on the 2023 budget request, on Tuesday May 3rd / Photo credit: J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

Another key factor is the training that the Ukrainian military has received since 2014. Washington Examiner says, the United States had roughly 160 members of the Florida National Guard in Ukraine executing a train-and-advise mission to develop the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ Combat Training Center in Yavoriv since 2015.

Defense Express / US Defense Seniors Praise Ukrainian Military for Good Use of Foreign Weaponry
Photo credit: US Department of Defense

"In addition to that is what the western nations, NATO, in particular the United States, taught their leaders since 2014 about mission command," Gen Mark Milley said. "The Ukrainians are practicing a decentralized intent-based set of tactics. The Russians are practicing a top-down, very, very top-heavy directive in nature. [A] sort of set orders come in from the top, which is not necessarily the best thing to do in a dynamic battlefield."

Now the continuation of training in Ukraine is out of question since the russian airstrike on the Yavoriv military base in the middle March. That's why it is considered that Ukrainian troops continue training outside Ukraine.

During the hearing the officials stated "several hundred" Ukrainian fighters had just returned from such an abroad training on how to use such systems 155-mm howitzers to the Ukrainian frontlines.

Last but not least, the proper demonstration of leadership was among the factors that prevented Ukraine's capital Kyiv from being captured, when russian troops came as close as almost surrounding the city in the first weeks of the invasion.

"In terms of lessons learned, leadership is clearly the key from [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky all down to the lowest private," Mark Milley said, adding, "They are capable. ... Probably the most important difference right now between the Russians and Ukrainians is the leadership throughout the levels."

Defense Express / Gen. Mark Milley and Lloyd Austin testify to the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Defense on Tuesday, May 3, 2022 on Capitol Hill in Washington / US Defense Seniors Praise Ukrainian Military for Good Use of Foreign Weaponry
Gen. Mark Milley and Lloyd Austin testify to the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Defense on Tuesday, May 3, 2022 on Capitol Hill in Washington / Photo credit: Amanda Andrade-Rhoades, The Washington Post via AP

Whilst russian command showed its incompetence that resulted in them trying to change tactics under way.

"Some things they won’t be able to correct," Austin said of the russian troops, noting that the United States had "learned a lot about their leadership at the lower levels and their level of training" – and suggesting that they were far from impressive, The Washington Post writes.

"Russian President Vladimir Putin might be able to mobilize more people in the weeks and months ahead, but to adequately train those people to be more effective than what we’ve seen on the battlefield thus far — that’s questionable," Austin added.

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