Ukrainian training on L119 in the UK: Reports this week revealed how the British military began training Ukrainian troops several weeks ago in Wiltshire, a county in south-west England. The news comes less than two weeks after Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Kyiv, Ukraine, and promised a UK-led troop training programme.
BBC News reports that British and New Zealand soldiers supervised the program on British soil and were impressed by the Ukrainian soldiers’ willingness to learn to use standard NATO equipment.
Warrant Officer Rebecca Bullock, a master gunner with Britain’s Royal Artillery, told the BBC the soldiers’ motivation was “incredible”.
“They don’t take a lot of breaks,” Bullock said, adding that the learning window for these soldiers is exceptionally short.
“How can they be faster, how can they move faster, how can they get into action? It’s all about speed,” she said, referring to the goal of Ukrainian soldiers currently in England to receive the training.
Bullock said she worked alongside New Zealand Captain Jonathan Dick to train soldiers in the use of the L119 pistol.
Training became increasingly necessary for Ukrainian troops as Soviet-era weapons became more difficult to obtain. This means that Ukraine has received larger quantities of modern NATO weapons that soldiers are less familiar with.
What is 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 10 km.
The howitzer is 6500 mm long, 1800 mm wide and weighs 1900 kg. It is a towed howitzer, which means it must be pulled by a military vehicle.
Here’s what Boris promised
In mid-June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the UK would oversee a three-week training program for Ukrainian soldiers. Johnson made the comments during a trip to Kyiv, his third since the start of the war, but did not say at the time how the project was likely already underway.
In a statement issued by 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister promised that British soldiers would support Ukrainian troops.
“As Ukrainian soldiers fire British missiles to defend your nation’s sovereignty, they also do so to defend the very freedoms we take for granted. That’s why I’ve offered President Zelenskiy a major new military training program that could change the equation of this war – harnessing the most powerful of forces, Ukraine’s determination to win,” Johnson said.
The proposals suggested that British soldiers would provide advice on medical training, anti-explosive tactics, cybersecurity and combat skills.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher and journalist based in New York. Reporting from the UK, Europe and the US, it strives to analyze and understand left and right radicalisation, and reports on Western government approaches to pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and offer pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.