Ukrainian soldiers stand next to the Leopard 1A5 main battle tank in Klietz, Germany August 17, 2023
Ukrainian soldiers would “have a bad time” if they used American fighting doctrine against Russia.
He added that Ukraine is ahead of the US in using drones as part of its military operations.
He said that NATO training for Ukraine’s troops includes discipline, which is unnecessary given the stakes.
Ukrainian forces would be worse off if they followed American battlefield doctrine and are actually better at understanding some types of modern fighting, a US Army veteran who is training Ukrainian soldiers told Insider.
“If we use American doctrine here, we would definitely have a bad time,” the trainer, who goes by the call sign Jackie, told Insider.
Jackie fought in Afghanistan and Iraq before working as a training contractor for the US military, and has since gone to Ukraine to help train its troops and to fight alongside them.
He said Ukraine’s military is ahead of the US in some obvious ways.
“We don’t even have a clear doctrine for small drone use really at this time,” he said of the US, adding: “The Ukrainians are quite advanced in that fact. The Ukrainians are quite ahead of us on integration of these small drone systems and small medium drones.”
He also said that Ukraine has to operate in “guerilla stealth mode” even when doing big operations because its forces are so disadvantaged as to be considered “insufficient by any NATO country standard to breach the forces on that part of the line.”
Ukraine has repeatedly thanked its Western partners for support and training, saying it has helped its troops. But some on the ground say they have to adjust that training to survive and win on the battlefield.
Jackie’s comments mirror those made in September by a Ukrainian commander trained by US, British, and Polish soldiers, who said: “If I only did what [Western militaries] taught me, I’d be dead.”
The war in Ukraine looks very different to those fought by Western countries over the past few decades, including conflicts like Afghanistan and Iraq where Western troops had significant equipment and weapons advantages, Insider previously reported.
A former Army Ranger who fought in Ukraine said the fighting there is worse than what he experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While some Ukrainians are getting trained by the country’s allies, including the US training troops in Europe, Jackie said that training Ukrainian soldiers “from the ground up” is not appropriate given how much the soldiers have already fought, and the scale of the fight they have left behind.
He said some of the soldiers he works with returned from NATO training and told him they were standing in formation for two hours “so they could learn discipline and leadership.”
“Guys, their people are dying,” he said. “You don’t need to convince them to stand for two hours in formation to learn what discipline means. Their relatives’ blood is on the ground, so teach them how to fight.”
Jackie also pushed back against the idea that Ukraine should rigidly follow NATO standard training, and even argued that such a thing doesn’t really exist.
“I keep hearing ‘NATO standard’ getting thrown around, and ‘NATO standard training’ or ‘NATO standard doctrine’,” he said, adding: “The Polish infantry does not fight the same way as the American infantry.”
To those training Ukrainians, he said, simply: “Don’t get worked up about the procedures and the organizational stuff and ribbons and medals.”
Instead, look at Ukraine’s progress, and see if they have any specific training or equipment that could help. “Get them something they can use and the thing you teach them to do, they’re going to do that,” he said.