- In 2014 we were all inexperienced. At the time, I was serving under contract in the reconnaissance troop "the eightieth", but our level of training, both mine and that of my comrades, was not that much different from the guys who were mobilized, - recalls the instructor of a reconnaissance platoon Sergeant Volodymyr Rutsynskyy. - The price that we subsequently had to pay for "training" in battle was high...
The sergeant was among those who, three years ago, were the first to enter the Luhansk airport and held its defense until the last day. So, it is not an overstatement when he says that every bit of combat experience gained during the war is priceless. And for this reason here, in the deep rear hundreds of kilometers from the contact zone, he makes his mentees - cadets of a separate educational reconnaissance battalion, “sweat extra hard”.
- The fact that we are fulfilling a crucial mission here, far from the front line, becomes especially evident when former graduates call from the contact zone and thank us for the training they received, - the intelligence officer tells us with a smile.
- So, I immediately warn all the newcomers: nobody will be allowed to squander time.
As a matter of fact, it is hard to imagine one lazing around, for example, on the "trail of a reconnaissance officer" - a special training complex designed to develop the physical strength of the personnel, their skills of moving across adverse terrain and working out ways to overcome various obstacles and methods of adversary attacks. Watching the four fighters from the training reconnaissance unit move on the "trail", covering each other on the go and overcoming each obstacle in a swift pace, you understand: the instructor did not exaggerate when he spoke about each cadet "working up a sweat" every single day.
A board fence, brick walls with breaks, a dilapidated building, stone fences, connecting trenches, a wire fence with spirals, vertical walls, a wire fence on low stakes, a moat and means to overcome it, a sewage area, etc. – the group traverses these in one breath, in a matter of minutes. At the finish, the guys smile – they completed the trail perfectly.
The separate training reconnaissance battalion, led by Lieutenant Colonel Mykola Panasyk, was created on the basis of the training center of National Academy of the Army Ground Forces named after Hetman Petro Sahaidachnyy a little over a year ago. During this time, more than half a thousand cadets trained here and, upon graduation, were assigned to reconnaissance units of mechanized formations.
- The professional level of training of each class of graduates increases every time, - assures the deputy commander of the battalion on moral and psychological support Major Oleg Kuz - At the same time, we have to deal not only with the training of the cadets, but also constantly improve the material and training base of the battalion. Initially, we mostly used the training complexes and capabilities of the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security to train our cadets. But we are gradually building our own training base, and we will soon have everything necessary for the comprehensive training of army scouts: an obstacle course, a shooting range, survival area, observation, various simulators and even our own mini tank-driving range. Everything that is being created is based on the experience gained in the ATO zone, and the requirements that are put forward to training military intelligence according to NATO standards.
By the way, a significant part of the sergeants-instructors of the training reconnaissance battalion completed a training course under the British and Latvian systems of training of instructors, at one time or another.
- In fact, it was a kind of experience exchange, - says the instructor of a reconnaissance platoon Sergeant Ivan Gutsulyak. - I personally came to the conclusion that despite some differences in tactical and special trainings, we agree on the critical issues: firstly, army intelligence officers must know military topography to perfection, be able to navigate in any land environment. And do it not only with the help of modern devices, such as GPS, but first of all - using a compass and a map, “reading” local features. We are amidst a "quiet" war – filter in without commotion, fulfill your assignment and return in the same way. It is impossible to complete a task without being able to navigate the terrain.
One of the techniques used for motivation in the course of teaching this discipline is employed during a three-day reconnaissance training. On the eve of each mission the group instructor personally makes a cache of food in certain places and marks them on the map. Thus, in addition to the main mission, the cadets receive a sub-assignment: if they do not want to go hungry, they must find the food supplies...
- And the Latvian experience struck me by the amount of attention that is given to fire trainings - Sergeant Vladimir Rutsinskyy shares his impressions. - Every future reconnaissance man is given a hundred thousand ammunition rounds for the duration of the training course! We, unfortunately, do not have this luxury so far.
However, the fire training curriculum future reconnaissance men undergo is quite intensive the way it is. At the end of the course each cadet is able to attack by fire not only from small arms, but also from grenade launchers, heavy machine guns, equipped combat armored cars, etc.
- The training of reconnaissance men should be comprehensive, - explains Alexander Sokolov, the acting chief of the cyclic commission on special tactical training. - And our guys get maximum knowledge and skills not only in the sphere of tactics or fire training, but also in other subjects: engineering, tactical medicine, automotive and armored preparations, and so on.
For example, according to the officer, every reconnaissance man should be able to install or remove mine barriers no worse than a combat engineer, make improvised explosive devices, as well as to provide first medical care to a wounded fellow soldier.
We are talking to the officer on a tactical ground that is equipped with training surveillance posts. I notice an obscure stump not far away on the lawn. The major catches my eye and smiles:
- Yes, it's very similar to a hideout of UIA (ed. Ukrainian Insurgent Army) fighters. As Taras Shevchenko said: "Gain knowledge brothers! Think and read, and to your neighbors’ gifts pay heed, yet do not thus neglect your own." And our grandfathers fought as well ...