UncategorizedStrengthening Ukraine’s Territorial Defense: A Comprehensive Approach to Training and Support

As the Director of Radio Free Ukraine and an advocate for the empowerment of the Territorial Defense Forces, I have witnessed firsthand the challenges faced by Ukrainian, American and international warfighters on Freedom’s Frontier in Ukraine. In this critical time, our focus at Radio Free Ukraine, in collaboration with the Ukrainian Special Operations and Wounded Warrior Cossack Foundation, remains on supporting the Ukrainian war efforts through knowledge dissemination and organizational support.

I am pleased to share insights from my esteemed colleague, General Director of Valicor Ukraine, Yuriy Kuznietsov, a retired senior Ukrainian military officer with extensive experience collaborating with NATO and U.S. military forces. Together with Infantry Reserve Sublieutenant Kateryna Koval, executive director of the Cossack Foundation, we are dedicated to addressing the issues related to force protection and supporting wounded warriors, particularly concerning PTSD.

In this context, I would like to elaborate on General Director Kuznietsov’s valuable recommendations to enhance the training of the Territorial Defense Forces (TDF) of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. His insights, derived from both military and civilian experiences, provide a roadmap for optimizing the recruitment, mobilization, organization, communication, and support of our forces.

Recruitment, Mobilization, and Organization: General Director Kuznietsov rightly emphasizes the need for a systematic recruitment and training process, suggesting a nuanced approach considering age and professional activity. Setting clear age limits and defining professional areas will enhance the quality of recruits, minimizing health-related risks and improving overall effectiveness. Moreover, the article highlights the necessity to streamline the mobilization process, ensuring a swift and efficient response to threats while providing clear social and legal protections for the recruits and their families.

Organization of Communication and Support: Effective communication and support are vital components of any successful defense strategy. General Director Kuznietsov emphasizes the importance of information support, foreseeing potential risks, and preventing friendly fire incidents. His insights underscore the need for secure communication channels and controlled information dissemination, ensuring accurate and verified updates to both military personnel and civilians.

Learning, Experience, and Adaptation: The article rightly underscores the importance of adapting knowledge and processes to the specific risks faced by Ukrainian forces. General Director Kuznietsov encourages a combination of training methods tailored to the unique challenges of the Territorial Defense Forces. He stresses the necessity of an electronic database for reservists, providing accurate and updated information to optimize mobilization efforts.

Combat Settlement: Coordination between different defense entities, including Territorial Defense, Armed Forces, and local authorities, is crucial for a unified and effective response. Joint exercises involving various agencies and civilians can enhance coordination and result in a more professional and efficient defense strategy.

Venue: General Director Kuznietsov proposes the establishment of military training camps in collaboration with the ASI project, ensuring optimal locations and life support. This initiative promises to provide a comprehensive approach to training, education, and support for our forces.

In conclusion, the challenges faced by the Territorial Defense Forces are immense, and the need for a well-coordinated and adaptive approach is more critical than ever. As we continue our mission at Radio Free Ukraine, we stand committed to supporting the Territorial Defense Forces, the Ukrainian Special Operations, and Wounded Warrior Cossack Foundation in their pursuit of a safer and resilient Ukraine. Together, we can build a stronger defense that ensures the security and well-being of our nation and its people.



Here is the article from General Director of Valicor Ukraine Yuriy Kuznietsov, regarding suggestions to improve training Territorial Defense (TD) of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

I. Recruitment, mobilization and organization of recruitment centers (recruitment points).

  1. A systematic process of recruitment and training should be organized. It is necessary to clearly define age limits and areas of professional activity according to the age of the soldier or mobilized person. 18-60 years old for the same task is not good and not professional. For example, 45+, these are already health problems and no longer assault operations, etc. This approach to recruiting staff minimizes the risk of losses and improves the quality of the result.
  2. The mistakes of the first hours and days after the attack by the Russian military (orcs) indicate the lack of a system for mobilization, receiving replenishment, issuing and accounting for weapons and ammunition, military uniforms and equipment, body armor and helmets, as well as setting a clear combat mission to minimize losses. We need to change the approach, as it is no longer Soviet, and not the one that gives the best results in mobilization. The “citizen must” approach no longer works. The time that has passed since the beginning of the war has shown that mistakes in mobilization harm recruitment and the reputation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. A citizen of Ukraine should clearly understand his or her rights and receive protection from the state during service for himself or herself and family members of a serviceman, when he or she is performing his or her duty, and when something happens to him or her (injury, maiming, death), what social guarantees and compensation he or she has, and how much his or her family will receive in the event of his or her death. Also, the Territorial center for recruitment and social support (TCR and SS) were not ready to systematically accept a large number of people in the early days. Therefore, I would advise to create a separate mobilization training system for the Territorial Defense, which will be responsible for manning on a territorial basis, with the majority of people understanding which unit and position a person liable for military service can be assigned to. This will save precious time after the call to arms is announced. It also relieves the burden on the TCR and SS (responsible for recruiting personnel for mobilization), which will help them organize a quality recruitment for others. In addition, there should be a functioning, not just on paper, system of social protection for military personnel and their families. Efforts should be made to prevent the risk of PTSD through diagnosis, which in turn can provide a systemic improvement in morale. Moral and psychological state is currently one of the main factors of quality performance of tasks, both in combat and for those who have returned to civilian life. The system of recruitment of persons liable for military service must be constantly changing and adapted to modern challenges. The well-coordinated operation of the system affects the reputation of the military service, which in turn affects the recruitment of persons liable for military service during mobilization and in peacetime. The idea of organizing a mobilization reserve has been proposed in the Armed Forces before, but the system did not work and created negative feelings among reservists. This was repeatedly demonstrated during the exercises. One of the main problems is the provision of social and financial guarantees. Next comes training and professionalism. And it all starts with mistakes in the selection of persons liable for military service, from the quality of their moral and psychological state to their enrollment in certain positions. A person liable for military service is a person on whom the performance of a task or the lives of colleagues may depend. And many future results depend on the quality of the professional fitness assessment. Our program from Valicor Ukraine can help with this. At present, there is a lot of talk in the Ukrainian media and other sources (personal) about PTSD and the threat it poses. One of the big problems that emerges due to the war is the deterioration of the moral and psychological state of military personnel and veterans, their families and civilians. The quality of the moral and psychological state directly affects the quality of combat missions, the percentage of soldiers’ survivability, and the economy of Ukraine. My advice, as a former senior G2 and G3 officer with combat experience and now a business asset security professional and GM of Valicor Ukraine, is to check and monitor the condition of servicemen and women and their families (without exception). Systematic work will ensure timely diagnosis and prevention of larger problems (suicide, crime, drugs, alcohol, etc.). Special attention should be paid to the categories of servicemen or persons liable for military service who are weak in spirit or who have a hidden psychological breakdown, which can cause significant risks of loss at the most inopportune moment (not only their lives, but also the lives of their comrades).

    II. Organization of communication and support.
  3. A system of information support for units and commanders, collection and processing of information, and forecasting of various actions should be developed. My own military experience confirms that, for the most part, the prevention of loss risks in the first days of a full-scale war worked very poorly. There were many losses that could have been anticipated and prevented, thus saving the lives of personnel and civilians. The personnel who joined the territorial defense were poorly equipped and trained (the local territorial defense pointed weapons at me and then apologized). Many units of the Territorial Defense were not equipped with firearms in the first days, and used their own hunting weapons. Fortifications were built on their own. Bomb shelters were not equipped. In risk management, to prevent loss risks, you need to have the most up-to-date information to organize interaction, which in turn will improve the quality of loss risk management. Therefore, it is necessary to organize an effective system of interaction control, execution control and responsibility for the movement of transport (logistics) on its territory day/night. This is necessary to prevent the risks of friendly fire or mistakes that cost lives.
    The lack of organization of interaction and secure communication channels has led to a large number of casualties among their own military due to “friendly fire” on their own. These issues need to be practiced during exercises and constantly improved to prevent friendly fire.
    Secret proceedings and confidential information. Briefings should be held with the personnel of the units, and only one person should post videos and photos on social media, who is trained and must approve it with a designated official to prevent the risk of losses. We need to explain to everyone that the call sign of a serviceman and a military unit is not a joke for social media! The call sign was invented to save the lives of servicemen, not for advertising and marketing!
    Losses among the Territorial Defense servicemen due to careless handling of weapons and ammunition. A culture of weapon handling and training should be implemented. Conduct training on the study and use of weapons and safety precautions when handling weapons.
    One of the main mistakes made in existing training units is the lack of checking the state of psychological health of servicemen, which eventually leads to losses during combat missions or suicides. We, Valicor Ukraine, know how to organize systematic work to prevent the risk of losses.
  4. In the first days after February 24, 22, civilians received information from the Internet and telegram channels. A large amount of information was not verified. This situation created mistakes and risks among the civilian population. I remember how on the third night, when the Russian military (orcs) tried to enter Kyiv (the third night after February 24), a representative of the Territorial Defense came to our basement, where I was with my child, and said that there were Russian military (orcs) in the forest across the road. Exactly 5-10 minutes later, only 3 families were left in the basement. The basement was packed with people. I checked the information later, and no one could confirm or deny it. This uncertainty and the provision of unverified information increases the risk of loss of life among people. People didn’t even remember who said it. Therefore, it is important to model different situations and develop processes that will prevent the risks of chaos due to the lack of information to subordinates and civilians. Territorial defense is designed to protect civilians within its territory. Therefore, officials should be identified who are assigned to buildings or areas where they are the official source of information.

    III. Learning, experience and its adaptation to risks.
  5. The main mistake in preparing and using the knowledge gained is the lack of adaptation of processes and knowledge to use in a risky environment in Ukraine. This applies not only to military affairs, but also to business and personal life: “Risk management in action”. But you need to be able to feel the risks in order to manage them well! From my military and civilian experience, I confirm that all knowledge must be adapted to the risks of the environment. That is, each process or mechanism must be adapted to be used according to the mental risks of the environment in which it is used or the task is performed. As an example, specialists have gained new knowledge abroad and immediately in Ukraine they need to use it with adaptation to the risks of each environment. This also applies to personnel training. This will reduce personnel losses at times, and improve the quality of the task and the quality of the result!
  6. For the Territorial Defense, the best option for training is a combination of different methods from different branches and components. Since the tasks that Territorial Defense units must perform are specific (defense and protection, clearing the territory). It would be a mistake to train territorial defense units only in the basics of the land component. Their program should be modeled on existing risks to prevent and counteract them. It is also necessary to understand the terrain where the territorial defense units are likely to be involved in the task. This approach will increase the professionalism of military personnel and persons liable for military service (reservists).
  7. Regarding the electronic database of reservists and persons liable for military service. This is correct and should have been done since 2014. At that time, I was surprised why it was not done. The best option for the final data for this program is the initial data, which indicates information on age, military specialty, health, marital status and the existence of official legal grounds for deferral or deregistration for family and health reasons. You will also need to provide your cell phone number, email address, and address of residence (if you do not have one and where you sometimes live). If we make sure that documents are confirmed or provided by government agencies online, it will be faster. It will also reduce errors and the workload on the TCR and SS. But we need a comprehensive state effort to organize mobilization. You can’t force people to join the army with a stick, and even if you do, they will not be of much quality.

    IV. Combat settlement.
  8. The first days after 24.02. showed a lack of coordination between the representatives of the Territorial Defense, the Armed Forces and military personnel of other formations (Police, SBU, Border Guard) and local authorities and civilians (large residential complexes, houses, etc.). It is necessary to conduct joint exercises involving police, SBU, border guards and government agencies and civilians from the local area. This will increase the level of interaction and provide a professional result in the future.
  9. Continuous modernization of all processes of interaction, support, communication, intelligence, logistics, support, etc.

    V. Venue.

    Regarding the location of the training: I received a request from a former US Army Special Forces officer to help organize a military training camp for a private American company. At that time, due to the lack of funding for the project, we suspended our cooperation with them. We have identified several possible locations for training, but each of them needs to be discussed. There are also quite suitable places in the Kyiv region. During the cooperation, many issues were worked out and possible training locations for units of various directions were identified, including the organization of all life support processes. These locations meet all the necessary requirements for organizing and conducting the training process for reservists and territorial defense personnel, both in the fields and in classrooms. Together with our ASI (Assets Security and Investment) project, which is a project of SZB and will be a separate project in the future, we propose to sign a cooperation agreement after discussing and agreeing on the terms of reference. As part of the agreement, we will be able to determine the optimal locations and offer options for approval along with estimates and deadlines. We also have the ability to provide design and preparation of locations for training and ensure their life support. Our team is able to help you in all matters related to the organization of training and educational processes, as well as their improvement. Valicor Ukraine will 100% cope with this task of analyzing and maintaining the moral and psychological state of the personnel. We will help you to organize all the processes that will ensure the best diagnosis of PTSD. Our ASI (Assets Security and Investment) project will help to organize and improve processes and organize training places.

    General Director of Valicor Ukraine Yuriy Kuznietsov November 08, 2023

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