Training in Germany: Ukrainians complete their battle tank training

After several weeks of intensive training in Germany, Ukrainian soldiers are now ready for deployment with the Leopard 2 main battle tank.

Training in Germany: Ukrainians complete their battle tank training

After several weeks of intensive training in Germany, Ukrainian soldiers are now ready for deployment with the Leopard 2 main battle tank. At the end of their training, the crews practiced attacking and retreating from an enemy using live fire at the Bergen military training area in Lower Saxony.

The aim of the training is "that these forces are able to fight completely independently with this very modern, actually the most modern battle tank that we have to offer," said Brigadier General Björn Schulz, commander of the Bundeswehr Armored Forces School, on the military premises in Lower Saxony.

In groups of four tanks - one platoon each - the soldiers practiced firefighting against an enemy. Deep detonations erupted over the military compound as the tanks fired their tracer rounds at targets up to two kilometers away. Radio communications between the tank crews were broadcast on loudspeakers for observers. "Bravo 2 fought tanks," was reported. "Bravo 3 engaged enemy infantry." After all: Between 82 and 85 percent of the target representations were destroyed during the exercises. The German trainers rate this as very good.

Experts: Leopard 2 significantly superior to Russian armored forces

Germany will deliver 18 modern Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks to Ukraine, Portugal another 3 of the weapon systems. This is part of military aid designed to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia. Experts firmly believe that the Leopard 2 is clearly superior in combat against Russian armored troops. The Ukrainian soldiers are to return home with the tanks in March.

On January 25, the federal government announced the goal of "rapidly assembling two tank battalions with Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine." In Ukraine, these are usually equipped with 31 tanks each. The main participants in the initiative are Poland, Norway, Canada and Spain. Poland delivered the first four Western main battle tanks of the older Leopard 2A4 type to Ukraine in February.

"Incredibly motivated and very empowered"

"Ukrainian soldiers have proven to be not only incredibly motivated, but also very capable of learning both the technology and the principles of engagement," said Brigadier General Schulz. After equipment training, exercises on the simulator, combat training in the field and so-called school shooting, combat shooting is now the "high school".

Everything humanly possible had been done to provide the best possible training. "More would have been nice, but of course the general conditions of the war don't allow for that," said Schulz. The German instructors couldn't help but know what the tank students were going to face in the near future, "that is, a war that could hardly be more brutal," said the general. And: "It hurts us that there will of course be dead and wounded."

Discussions with the Ukrainians on site were subject to special security precautions, and they were also not supposed to be identifiable. A man now trained as a gunner in the Leopard 2 main battle tank was optimistic. "This main battle tank is one of the most accurate weapon systems available. Firepower and other advantages will allow us not to fear an unexpected encounter with the enemy. Then we will be able to quickly dodge and use firepower to smash him," he said. He knew from an acquaintance in Ukrainian reconnaissance that the Russians were very nervous about modern battle tanks. He said: "And they must be nervous too. I say that from my experience here in training."

EU trains 30,000 Ukrainians within two years

For training on German soil, a training command ("Special Training Command") was set up in Strausberg near Berlin, which is led by Lieutenant General Andreas Marlow. His office coordinates EU military aid. Last year, 1,100 soldiers were trained, and 9,000 more are to be trained this year, he says. Overall, the EU wants to train 30,000 Ukrainians within two years.

"The Ukrainians are facing the most dangerous phase of the war," said French Vice-Admiral Hervé Bléjean, Director General of the EU training mission. They are in defensive positions against more than 300,000 Russian combatants. Even if they are not the best trained or equipped combatants, Bléjean says that the Ukrainians are facing a "tsunami of soldiers". The defenders held the front. Bléjean: "If they can use better tanks like the Leopard, they will be able to break through and counterattack."