Under the War sign: Ukrainian farmer trains to work with Leopard

Note: The names of those involved in the story are hidden for security reasons and to comply with the GDPR in Europe. The article was written by Mikal Hem and published in the Forsvarets forum. BulgarianMilitary.com is not bound by the position and point of view of the author. Bulgarianmilitary.com simply provides a foreign perspective.


OSLO, NORWAY — In Poland, Ukrainians are trained to use the Leopard 2. We learn a lot from the experience of the Ukrainians about the way Russia conducts war, says a Norwegian instructor. “This is already our job. It must be done, completed and Ukraine must be freed,” commented the Norwegian instructor philosophically.

Under the War sign: Ukrainian farmer trains to work with Leopard
Photo by Krister Sørbø

When Russia invaded Ukraine last February, the Ukrainian citizen [that’s what we’ll call him in the article] was the head of a small private company in the agricultural industry. The 41-year-old Ukrainian is from the Kyiv region and has a 19-year-old daughter.

The Ukrainian citizen signed up for service. Last year he fought with a tank against the Russians. He is now in Poland, where he is being trained by Norwegian instructors to operate Western Leopard 2 tanks.

The Ukrainian says there is a big difference between the old Soviet tanks that Ukraine uses today and the modern Western Leopard 2 that Norway, among others, donated to the war-torn country.

Cannon fire in the forest

At the range, several tanks are lined up, barrels pointed at the target on the horizon. Each shot sends a pillar of fire out of the muzzle. A smaller flame becomes visible where the projectile hits in the distance.

In the forest near the Polish town of Sventoszów, a group of Ukrainians are training in shooting. The commander of the troops with the call sign “Vadim” has only praise for the tanks. “They are very fast, easy to ride and the gun is perfect,” he says.

“Vadim” leads a group of 24 soldiers. Currently, a total of 75 Ukrainians are being trained at the base. The instructors are from Poland, Canada, and Norway. “They have tremendous combat experience,” says one of the Norwegian instructors. “But what is different from the equipment that Ukrainians already use is the system. How the cart is built and how it works,” added the instructor.

Master of War

Under the War sign: Ukrainian farmer trains to work with Leopard
Photo by Krister Sørbø

The Norwegian instructor described the Ukrainians as highly motivated and willing to learn. “We notice that they want to learn everything we can, and they understand the importance of a systemic understanding of the cart.”

The instructor says that the Norwegian Armed Forces also learn a lot during the training. In Norway, all training takes place in peacetime, while the Ukrainians have fresh experience from the battlefield

“For the Norwegian instructors, it is a very good experience for further training at home. We learn a lot from the experience of the Ukrainians about the way Russia conducts war and the way the war has developed,” said another Norwegian instructor.

Norwegian excavator

Norwegian tanks are already in place in Ukraine, but there is an armored excavator on the training ground in Poland, which is being used in training before being used in war. The machine was developed and manufactured in Norway.

“Now we teach them how to make trenches. We taught them how to make a tank trench, then we taught them how to break a tank trench,” says a Norwegian officer at the Army Weapons School. He is the force commander for the Norwegian contribution to training.

“We used the same area to teach them how to use the rock armor. Give them a case where we’ve jammed a tank, they’ll also come and save the tank,” he continues.

All Ukrainians who participate have war experience. The Norwegian Army Weapons School officer is surprised at how little it affects them during training. “I imagined they would be a bit more of a marked group and I was mentally prepared to face what we had read and what we had learned about combat responses. But that is not what we are facing. We are met by a highly motivated group and a will to persevere the likes of which I have never seen.”

An optimist

The Polish General leading the training operation says they stopped training Polish soldiers in February to concentrate on the Ukrainians. “The training is extensive. We train six days a week, ten to twelve hours each day,” he says.

Under the War sign: Ukrainian farmer trains to work with Leopard
Photo by Krister Sørbø

Although Ukrainians come straight from the front line, they talk little about the war experience. “We’re one big family here at the training center. We don’t want to emphasize battlefield experiences. Rather, we’re going to focus on day-to-day training,” he says.

After a year at war, the former farm worker, looks to the future with cautious optimism. “When the war is over, we will get the independence we are fighting for. I believe everything will be fine,” he says.


Follow us everywhere and at any time. BulgarianMilitary.com has responsive design and you can open the page from any computer, mobile devices or web browsers. For more up-to-date news, follow our Google News, YouTube, Reddit, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook pages. Our standards: Manifesto & ethical princliples.