The first contingent of Australian Army personnel to deploy to the UK to help train their Ukrainian counterparts will be farewelled from Darwin today.
Up to 70 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel primarily drawn from the Australian Army’s 5 RAR’s 1st Brigade, will deploy to the UK under Operation KUDU. They will join the larger UK-led training program, Operation INTERFLEX, to train Ukrainian recruits in support of Ukraine’s response to Russia’s invasion. The training program aims to train up to 20,000 Ukrainian recruits in 2023.
The ADF says the training will generate additional capacity within the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and will focus on basic infantry tactics for urban and wooded environments. It added that no ADF personnel will enter Ukraine as part of the training operation.
“The Australian Government is committed to standing with Ukraine, in response to Russia’s clear violation of the rules-based order,” Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Richard Marles said in an 18 January release. “Operation KUDU builds on Australia’s military support for Ukraine, with the previously gifted Australian-produced Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles proving their worth as highly valuable military vehicles.”
Minister for Defence Personnel, Matt Keogh added, “Our people are our greatest defence capability, that’s why it’s so important that our soldiers, alongside a number of partner nations, will provide essential skills to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, supporting Ukraine to end the conflict on its own terms. We are proud to support the brave people of Ukraine and their armed forces.”
To date, Australia has supported Ukraine materially to the tune of about $655 million to date, including Thales Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles, M777 howitzer guns, Javelin anti-armour missiles, M113AS4 armoured personnel carriers, and other equipment such as artillery ammunition, combat armour, helmets, medical supplies, and ration packs.
The first Bushmasters were sent to Ukraine aboard chartered Antonov transports in April and were followed by M777s in May and M113s in June, while two further batches of Bushmasters totalling 90 vehicles have since been dispatched or are in the process of being delivered.
In addition, Royal Australian Air Force Boeing C-17A Globemaster III transport aircraft have made several flights into the supply staging point of Rzeszow in eastern Poland since early March to deliver vehicles and pallets of other supplies.