Ukrainian Ground Forces
|This article is outdated. (April 2014)|
|Ukrainian Ground Forces
Сухопутні Війська України
Emblem of the Ukrainian Ground Forces
1919–192212 December 1991–present
|Size||232,000 Personnel |
|Anniversaries||Army Day (6 December).|
|Engagements||Kosovo Force (KFOR)
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
2014 Crimean crisis
War in Donbass
|Lieutenant General Anatoliy Pushnyakov|
|Ground Forces Ensign|
The Ukrainian Ground Forces (Ukrainian: Сухопутні Війська ЗСУ, Sukhoputni Viys’ka ZSU) are the land force component of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. They were formed from Soviet Ground Forces formations, units, and establishments, including three military districts (the Kiev, Carpathian, and Odessa Military Districts), that were on Ukrainian soil when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990–92.
Throughout the 1990s, Ukraine retained much Soviet-era army equipment. Since then, however, Ukraine has upgraded its Ground Forces with advanced additions from domestic engineering and modifications. Currently, the Ukrainian Ground Forces buys military equipment only from Russia and other CIS states, as well as locally producing some of their own equipment.
- 1 History
- 2 Military Training and Education Center
- 3 Branches of the Ground Forces
- 4 Structure 2012
- 5 Military Equipment
- 6 Deployment outside of Ukraine
- 7 Veterans
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
Prior to the October Revolution of 1917, three separate self-governing Ukrainian states existed on what is Ukraine today. Each of these states possessed armed forces. The largest of these, the Ukrainian People's Republic, itself comprised three separate regimes. The Ukrainian People's Army is an example of one of the early national armed forces. Other armed independence movements existed in the wake of both the First World War and the Second World War, and these armies each had distinct organisation and uniforms. These armed forces, and the independent Ukrainian homeland for which they fought, were eventually incorporated into the neighboring states of Poland, Soviet Union, Hungary, Romania and Czechoslovakia.
Collapse of the USSR
The Armed Forces of Ukraine included approximately 780,000 personnel, 7,000 armored vehicles, 6,500 tanks, and 2,500 tactical nuclear missiles when they were established. However, the problem that Ukraine face was that while it had vast armed forces, it lacked a proper command structure. Therefore, on 24 August 1991, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine ratified the resolution of taking under its control, all military units of former Soviet Armed Forces, situated on the territory of Ukraine; and in turn the establishment of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.
Following the declaration of Ukrainian independence in 1991, Ukraine inherited the 1st Guards Army, 13th Army, 38th Army, two tank armies (the 6th Guards Tank Army and the 8th Tank Army), and the 32nd Army Corps (32-й Кенигсберский армейский корпус) at Simferopol. In addition, the 28th Guards Motor Rifle Division (MRD) and the 180th MRD were left in Ukraine, having been previously under the 14th Guards Army headquartered at Tiraspol in the Moldovan SSR. The post of commander of ground troops was designated in early 1992. By the end of 1992, the Kiev Military District disbanded, and Ukraine used its structures as the basis for the Ministry of Defence and the General Staff. Between June and August 1993, the first redesignation of armies to army corps appears to have taken place. While the chief of ground forces post had been created in early 1992, it was over two years before the first holder, Colonel General Vasily Sobkov, was appointed on 7 April 1994. The legal framework for the Ground Forces was defined in Article 4 of the law 'On the Armed Forces of Ukraine.' At that time, the Ground Forces had no separate command body, and were directly subordinate to the Ukrainian General Staff.
The creation of the Ground Forces as a separate armed service was legally only put in train by Presidential Decree 368/96 of 23 May 1996, 'On the Ground Forces of Ukraine.' That year both the Ground Forces Command was formed and the 1st Army Corps was reorganised as the Northern Territorial Operational Command (which became the Northern Operational Command in 1998). In 1997 the Carpathian Military District was reorganised as the Western Operational Command.
President Leonid Kuchma revealed in a December 1996 speech that as many as 191 mechanised infantry and tank battalions were rated not ready, adding,“This is especially dangerous in the forward-based units securing the nation’s borders.”
From 1992 to 1997, the forces of the Kiev MD were transferred to the Odessa MD, and the Odessa MD's headquarters moved to Donetsk. A new 2nd Army Corps was formed in the Odessa MD. Armies were converted to army corps, and motor rifle divisions converted into mechanised divisions or brigades. Pairs of attack helicopter regiments were combined to form army aviation brigades.
In 2005–06, the Northern Operational Command was reorganised as Territorial Directorate "North". It was tasked with territorial defence, mobilisation training, and preparation of reserves. It was reported on 27 July 2005 that '..[o]ver 70 per cent of planned work on [the] disbandment of the Ukrainian armed forces' Northern Operational Command has been completed,' according to the Defence Ministry's press service.
The Ground Forces are implementing a plan, promulgated in 2000, that includes a reduction in the number of troops from the then 300,000 to 240,000 by 2015, and an ultimate change from a partial conscript-based force to a fully professional military. Even though the Armed Forces received little more than half of the Hr 68 million it was promised for reform in 2001, officials were able to disband nine regiments and close 21 local military bases.
According to the State Program of the Ukrainian Armed Forces reform and development to 2005, the ground forces were to have the biggest ratio of personnel of all services (up to 54%). This ratio was to be based on the missions assigned to the armed forces, and also on the fact that current economy of Ukraine cannot support any larger troop numbers. However, the ground forces still have priority in the number of personnel, weapons, military equipment development priorities and the development of their future systems, which will correspond to modern warfare requirements. The ground forces will closely coordinate their assignments with other army branches, engaging appropriate military arts and equipment. They will also be involved in law enforcement activities during emergencies, dealing with consequences of technological and natural disasters, providing military assistance to other countries, engaging in international military cooperation activities (UN), and participating in international peacekeeping operations according to international agreements.
Military Training and Education Center
Training in 2006 was aimed at developing mobility and combat readiness of the forces. Training was directed primarily into Joint Rapid Reaction Forces (JRRF) exercises. Measures were also taken to maintain the high level of combat efficiency of the Main Defence Forces units, performing of missions by the units, securing and practicing joint actions with other formations. The Ukrainian armed forces took advantage of the opportunities provided by multinational exercises to raise the level of their combat efficiency.
2006 also saw the first ever large-scale Ukrainian tactical special exercise with practical deployment of a military mobile hospital of the Air Force's Military Medical Centre. It involved several ambulance aircraft and armored equipment (APC). During the practical phase the possibilities of use of the medical evacuation aircraft, medical evacuation helicopters and automobiles were also tested. The training framework included an international research conference on the “Methodological basis of medical support organisation of the Armed Forces”, in which representatives of the armed forces of Ukraine, NATO nations and other partners participated.
In 2007 the system of exercise/training ranges was optimized, decreasing their number and providing a specialized role.
Training Ranges of the Ground Forces:
- Rivne Military Training Center
- Storozhynets Military Training Center
- Zhytomyr Military Training Center
- Bolhrad Military Training Center
While Schooling Occurs at:
- Sahaidachny Land Forces Academy (Lviv)
- Military Academy (Odessa)
- National Defence University of Ukraine, named after Ivan Chernyahovsky (Kiev)
Branches of the Ground Forces
Armoured and mechanised forces
Mechanised Infantry and armoured forces are the primary components of the Ukrainian Ground Forces. Their primary objectives in case of war are capturing and holding targets, maintaining positions, defending against attack, penetrating enemy lines and defeating enemy forces.
The mechanised and armoured forces are equipped with T-64 and T-64BM "Bulat" main battle tanks; BTR-4, BTR-60, BTR-70 and BTR-80, wheeled armored personnel carriers and BMP-1, BMP-2 and BMD-2 infantry combat vehicles.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, a large number of the previous Soviet mechanised formations on Ukrainian soil have been disbanded – the IISS says totals have dropped from 14 divisions, in 1992, to two divisions, six brigades, and one independent regiment in 2008. Today, all mechanised and armoured formations are called brigades. However, some former divisions remain near division strength.
Current armoured formations include:
- 1st Armored Brigade – Honcharivske Chernihiv Oblast, Ukraine
- 17th Armored Brigade – Kryvyi Rih Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine
- 30th Mechanized Brigade (Ukraine)
Disbanded armoured formations include:
- 17th Guards Tank Division – 17th Armored Brigade – reformed into brigade by 2003
- 23rd Training Tank Division – 6065th Storage Base since 1987
- 30th Guards Tank Division – 30th Tank Brigade – July 30, 2004 reformed into 30th Mechanised Brigade
- 41st Guards Tank Division – 5193rd Storage Base since 1989
- 42nd Guards Tank Division – 5359th Storage Base since 1990
- 48th Guards Training Tank Division – 169th District Training Centre
- 117th Guards Tank Division – 119th District Training Centre
Airmobile Forces and Army Aviation
Army Aviation, having to cover troop movements, is by far the most maneuverable branch of the army, intended to conduct the operations under all sorts conditions of combat arms procedures. Among the priorities of the Ukrainian army aviation's units is to provide reconnaissance, attack enemy weapon systems, provide equipment and human resources, give tactical fire support during an offensive or counterattack, land airmobile troops, and to deliver combat weapons and personnel at the specified areas and execute other main tasks. There are two units: the 3rd Army Aviation Regiment and 7th Army Aviation Regiment. They are equipped with Mil Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters, and their variants.
The Ukrainian Airmobile Forces serve as the quick response units of the army. Airmobile forces' structure consists of formations and elements of the army and the army aviation. These units are well trained for offensive activities behind enemy lines. The airmobile forces are in constant combat readiness and base their battle plan on high mobility. The airmobile forces consist of two airmobile brigades, an airborne brigade, and one airmobile regiment. Some of the airmobile formations were previously grouped into the 1st Airmobile Division but this has now been disbanded.
Rocket and Artillery Troops
Rocket Forces and Artillery troops of the army consist of formations of tactical missiles, self-propelled artillery, howitzers, jet-propelled and anti-tank artillery, artillery reconnaissance units, of mortar units and of units of anti-tank missiles. These forces operate as support for other army formations, and are therefore obliged to destroy enemy human resources, tanks, artillery, anti-tanks weapons, aircraft, air defence equipment, and other important objects during the combat arms operations. Rocket and artillery troops are equipped with: missile complexes of operational-tactical and tactical missiles; Multiple rocket launcher rocket systems, such as the Smerch, Uragan, Grad; also, Giatsint, Pion, Akatsiya, Gvozdika howitzers; and, Konkurs, T-12 antitank gun anti-tank weapons.
Previously the 1st Rocket Division was active at Хмельницкий, formed on the basis of the former Soviet 43rd Rocket Army. It had two to three rocket brigades (19-Хмельницкий, 46 или 199- Gchovka, 107-Кременчуг) with 54–56 Скад/Scud. It was active in 2003, but disbanded in 2004. In addition, previously the 461st Rocket Brigade (рбр) Славута, 13 АК ЗОК, the 459th Rocket Brigade (рбр) at Белая Церковь-8 АК,СОК- Точка- расформирована в 2004, 123 рбр- Контоп-СОК, Точка, 107 рбр (Kremenchug) (Tochka), and the 159th Rocket Brigade (рбр) (Кіровоград) were active.
Army Air Defence
The Army Air Defence units are responsible for covering troops against enemy air attacks anywhere on the battlefield, and while in combat. The Ukrainian Ground Forces army air defence branch is equipped with a variety of effective surface-to-air missile systems of division level and anti-aircraft missile and artillery complexes of regiment level. Regiment level units are characterized by their high rate of fire, vitality, maneuverability, and capability of action under all conditions of modern combat arms operations. Surface-to-air missile systems and complexes of division level are characterized by their long range and firepower and are equipped with surface-to-air missile complexes;S-300V,Osa, Buk, Buk-M1 and Tor. While anti-aircraft missile and artillery complexes that are of regiment level are equipped with the Tunguska-M1, Igla MANPADS system, Strela, and Shilka anti-aircraft missile systems. While the army's only separate radar system, meaning it isn't a part of any anti-aircraft system, is the Ukrainian Kolchuga-M. It was designed sometime between the years 1993–1997, the system is said to be one of the most (if not the most) advanced passive sensors in the world, as it was claimed to be able to detect stealth aircraft.
Structure of Ukrainian Ground Forces at the end of 2011 was:
- Land Forces Command
- Western Operational Command, (former Soviet Carpathian Military District)
- Southern Operational Command, Odessa (former Soviet Odessa Military District)
- Territorial Directorate "North", Chernihiv (former Soviet Kiev Military District, Ukrainian Northern Territorial Operational Command)
- Units of direct subordination
- 1004th Separate Company of Security and Support of the Land Forces HQ
- 3rd Separate Regiment of Special Assignment
- 8th Separate Regiment of Special Assignment
- 79th Airmobile Brigade
- 19th Rocket Brigade
- 169 Training Center "Desna"
- Military Music Center
- Presidential units of direct subordination
- 1st Separate Regiment of the President of Ukraine
- General staff units of direct subordination
- 101st Separate Brigade of the General Staff security
- 30th Automobile base of the General Staff
- 70th Automobile base of the Ministry of Defense
- 1st Field Proskuriv Communication Center
- 70th Communication Center
- 12th Separate Battalion of the Military Police
- 6th Army Corps, Dnipropetrovsk (Units based in the area of the Southern Operational Command)
- 8th Army Corps, Zhytomyr (Units based in the area of the Territorial Directorate "North")
- 13th Army Corps, Rivne (former Soviet 13th Army) (Units based in the area of the Western Operational Command)
- 57,000 Personnel (+ 6,100 in air-mobile forces) 
- 686 Tanks (+ 41 in Navy)
- 2,065 (+ 310 in air-mobile forces and 160 in Navy) Armoured Combat Vehicles
- 72 Combat Helicopters
- 716 (+ 47 in Navy) Artillery Systems
Deployment outside of Ukraine
Ukraine deployed a sizable contingent of troops to the Iraq War, these were stationed near Kut. Ukraine's troop deployment was the second largest of all former Soviet states besides Georgia and they deployed more soldiers to the nation then many members of NATO such as Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Ukraine also suffered the fifth highest casualty toll during the war, with only Polish, Italian, UK, and US forces suffering heavier losses.
From 2003-2005 over 1,700 Ukrainian soldiers were deployed to Iraq, the third largest contingent at the time, they were designated to the 5th Mechanized Brigade (Ukraine), as in Ukraine's mission to Kosovo the troops deployed were contract soldiers and not conscripts. Ukraine began to severely draw down its troop levels in Iraq in 2005 due to mounting casualties and the political toxicity of the conflict. By 2005 only 876 soldiers, roughly half of the original contingent were deployed, by years end troop levels dropped to below 100. In 2008, one year before the official end of the US military mission President Viktor Yushchenko ordered all remaining troops deployed to Iraq returned home and Ukraine's mission to the nation officially over.
Since 2001 Ukraine allowed United States military cargo planes to fly over and refuel on Ukrainian soil on their way to Afghanistan. In 2007 Ukraine deployed a detachment of the 143rd De-mining Center of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to Afghanistan. Ukraine has kept a team of soldiers deployed to Afghanistan as part of ISAF since 2007, these mostly consisted of pilots, medical officers, and bomb disposal experts. Ukrainian pilots were responsible for training the pilots of the Afghan Air Force on the operation of several air craft as Afghanistan's forces consisted of many Soviet designed aircraft such as the Mi-17 with which Ukrainian troops were very familiar with. In 2013 the contingent of troops in Afghanistan totaled 26 troops. As of 2014 the Ukrainian contingent was further drawn down and the team included 8 bomb disposal experts and several medical officers.
Ukrainian forces have also been deployed to Kosovo since 2000 as part of the 600 man Polish–Ukrainian Peace Force Battalion. In August 2014 Ukraine ended its mission to Kosovo due to the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Ukrainian peacekeeping forces have been deployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sudan and South Sudan and Cote d'Ivoire. Ukrainian forces have also been requested to take a more active role in the Northern Mali Conflict of 2012 in battling Islamic forces. One of the largest deployments is the 18th Separate Helicopter Unit of the Armed Forces of Ukraine which consisted of 160 servicemen and four Mi-24P helicopters and was deployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2011.
Ukraine provides combat veterans with various benefits. Ukrainians who have served in WWII, Soviet war in Afghanistan, or as liquidators at the Chernobyl disaster are eligible for benefits such as; a monthly allowance, discount on medical and pharmacy services, free use of public transportation, additional vacation days from work, having priority for retention in case of work layoffs, easier loan access and approval process, preference when applying for security related positions, priority when applying to vocation school or trade school, and electricity, gas, and housing subsidies. Veterans are also eligible to stay at military sanatoriums permitting there is space. Since gaining independence Ukraine has deployed troops to Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan gaining a new generation of veterans separate from those who have served in the Soviet forces. Most recently the government passed a law extending veteran benefits to Ukrainian troops participating in the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine. Moreover veterans from other nations who move to or reside in Ukraine may be eligible for some of the listed benefits, this provision was likely made to ensure WWII, Chernobyl, and Afghanistan veterans from other Soviet states who moved to Ukraine received similar benefits, however as Ukraine has participated in numerous NATO led conflicts since its independence it is unclear if NATO veterans would be extended these benefits.
Veteran groups are not as developed as in the United States which has numerous well known national organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars. World War II veterans, and even persons who have lived through the war are generally treated with the highest respect. Other veterans are not as well known. Ukrainian veterans from the Soviet War of Afghanistan are strikingly similar to the Vietnam veterans of the United States. The Soviet Union generally kept the public in the dark through the war, unlike in Vietnam where coverage was very high, Afghanistan is often labeled as a mistake by the Soviet Union and its successor states, the lack of media coverage and censorship through the war also ensured that many still remain unaware of their nations involvement in the conflict. Despite Ukraine having the 3rd largest contingent of troops in Iraq in 2004 few also realize that their nation has many veterans of the Iraq war.
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