Ukraine training on L119 in UK: Reports this week revealed how the British military began training Ukrainian troops several weeks ago in Wiltshire, a county in southwest England. The news comes less than two weeks after Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Kyiv, Ukraine, and promised a UK-led troop training scheme.
BBC News reports that British and New Zealand soldiers have overseen the program on British soil and that they have been impressed at the eagerness of Ukrainian soldiers to learn how to use standard NATO equipment.
Warrant Officer Rebecca Bullock, a master gunner with Britain’s Royal Artillery, told the BBC that the motivation of the soldiers is “incredible.”
“They don’t take many breaks,” Bullock said, adding that the window for these soldiers to learn is exceptionally short.
“How can they be quicker, how can they move faster, how can they come into action? It is all about the speed,” she said, referencing the focus of Ukrainian soldiers currently in England to receive the training.
Bullock said that she has worked alongside New Zealand Captain Jonathan Dick to train soldiers on how to use the L119 gun.
Training has become increasingly necessary for Ukrainian troops as Soviet-era weaponry has become harder to procure. It means that Ukraine has received greater quantities of modern NATO weaponry that soldiers are less familiar with.
What Is the L119?
The L119 is a 105mm Light Gun that provides direct and indirect fire support to British and New Zealand troops. The howitzer can be used to fire at buildings or armored vehicles and has a range of over 10km.
The howitzer is 6500mm long, 1800mm wide, and weighs 1900kg. It is a towed howitzer, meaning it must be pulled by a military vehicle.
Here’s What Boris Promised
In mid-June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the United Kingdom would oversee a three-week training program for Ukrainian soldiers. Johnson made the comments during a trip to Kyiv, his third since the war broke out, but didn’t announce at the time how the project was presumably already ongoing.
In a statement released by 10 Downing Street, the prime minister promised that British soldiers would provide support to Ukrainian troops.
“As Ukrainian soldiers fire UK missiles in defense of your nation’s sovereignty, they do so also in defence of the very freedoms we take for granted. That is why I have offered President Zelenskiy a major new military training programme that could change the equation of this war – harnessing that most powerful of forces, the Ukrainian determination to win,” Johnson said.
The proposals suggested that British soldiers would provide guidance on medical training, counter-explosive tactics, cybersecurity, and battle skills.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.