Ukraine’s Military was Trained By CIA Paramilitaries and Green Berets: The level of resistance by Ukrainian military forces has been shocking to many analysts. It was believed that the Russians would sweep through the country and capture the capital of Kyiv in 72 hours.
But poor planning, faulty intelligence, a broken logistics chain as well as their command and control system that had Russian commanders using cell phones to communicate, and poorly trained and led conscripts have left them stalled in most places as the war drags on to the second month. The Russians are being forced to augment their assault troops with more conscripts, private military companies, and foreign fighters.
Worse still for Moscow, Ukrainian units are not only resisting but are beginning to push back and retake their territory in many places. But perhaps it shouldn’t be so shocking.
And following a poor showing after Russia annexed Crimea, where the Ukrainian military seemed to barely resist in 2014, they set about to retool their military and prepare for the “next time” that they believed to have been coming…and was.
The Ukrainians sought help from the Americans and a handful of CIA paramilitary forces and teams of Army Special Forces (Green Berets), who have worked closely with Ukrainian special operations forces to prepare them to combat the Russian forces that have invaded their country.
Are the Russian Forces Truly a “Near Peer Adversary?
Since the earliest day of the Cold War, Western military analysts have put then-Soviet Union forces and now Russia’s military on somewhat of a pedestal. Granted, during the 1950s and into the 1970s, their sheer numbers were somewhat daunting, with vast amounts of tanks, artillery, and aircraft.
After debacles in Afghanistan and Chechnya, the military went through a modernization program and developed a hybrid warfare strategy from General Gerasimov based in no small part the American experiences in the post-Soviet Union breakup.
But much of the factors that plagued the Soviets in Afghanistan, poor planning, poorly trained conscripts, terrible logistical issues, and massive command and control problems, are once again rearing their head in Ukraine.
Much of the overestimating of Russian military power (near peer) can possibly be tied to the military-industrial complex and the massive amounts spent by the US in trying to keep up with the mythical strength of Russia’s military.
But the way the war has transpired in Ukraine, it shows clearly that the modernization that the Russians touted has not worked, their logistical chain is broken and their command and control has been poor.
The myth of Russian invincibility has taken a huge hit as their casualties mount. They are a declining military power, however, with nuclear weapons which makes it dangerous, which they’re constantly threatening the West with. They also have huge energy resources, but their military is definitely NOT a near-peer adversary.
CIA Paramilitary and Green Beret “Force Multipliers Pay Dividends
After the Russians annexed Crimea in 2014, and were initiating separatist movements in the Donbas, Ukraine sought help from the United States. Small paramilitary teams from the CIA made their way to the frontline in Ukraine and quickly recognized what the Ukrainians would need to combat further Russian aggression which they felt would be coming again.
Included in the initial training was the operation and tactical use of U.S.-supplied Javelin as well as other anti-tank missiles, the employment of secure communications and how to evade the digital tracking that Russian forces had used to pinpoint the location of Ukrainian troops, and how to use hit and run attacks against a numerically vastly superior force.
Earlier last month, I was contacted by Business Insider on what role US Special Forces could play in the Ukrainian defense against Russian aggression. Around the same time that the CIA’s paramilitary teams were training Ukrainian troops, small A-Teams of Green Berets were also sent. SF troops are experts in unconventional warfare, cross-cultural communications and are the military’s ultimate force multipliers.
Special Forces operators and members of the Army’s Florida National Guard were advising and training Ukrainian forces at Yavoriv Combat Training Center in western Ukraine. Rest assured, those same force multipliers are hard at work in the rest of the Baltic states that fear further Russian aggression.
While the Ukrainian people deserve all the credit for their spirited defense of their country, the small American footprint in Ukraine since 2014, has played a significant role.
Steve Balestrieri is a 1945 National Security Columnist. He has served as a US Army Special Forces NCO and Warrant Officer before injuries forced his early separation. In addition to writing for 19fortyfive.com, he has covered the NFL for PatsFans.com for more than 10 years and his work was regularly featured in the Millbury-Sutton Chronicle and Grafton News newspapers in Massachusetts.