Operation ORBITAL: The British Army in Ukraine
British Army Training the Ukrainian Armed Forces to Fight the Russians
Operation ORBITAL was launched in February 2015 in response to a request from the Ukrainian government to provide guidance and training to the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF). The British Army was tasked to deliver defensive training. Conducted at a distance from the conflict in the east, Op ORBITAL is focused on improving medical, logistics, ground sign awareness and general infantry skills in the UAF.
Over 1,300 British soldiers have already been deployed on Operation ORBITAL since 2015 and have trained more than 9,500 members of Ukraine’s Armed Forces.
British Army Units Deployed on Op ORBITAL
Training teams from across the British Army have been deployed to Ukraine since 2015, with the 1st Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (1 Mercian), providing the majority of this activity until the end of 2016. Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment (1 YORKS) also deployed to the Ukraine in 2016.
Currently deployed in November 2018 to the Ukraine on Op ORBITAL are soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the Royal Tank Regiment and the 3rd Battalion, The Rifles Regiment (3 RIFLES). Soldiers from Y Company, 1st Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (1 RFF), are delivering instructor training.
4th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment (4 PARA), and 299 Parachute Engineer Squadron, 16 Air Assault Brigade, were seen in Ukraine in August, 2018. The soldiers took part in Ukrainian Independence Day celebrations in Maidan Square, Kyiv.
According to the British Army website, soldiers from the Royal Dragoon Guards have also been deployed on ORBITAL.
Training on Op ORBITAL Expanded
The training, delivered through Operation Orbital, has been expanded in 2018 to include anti-armour, counter-sniping and mortar planning. This is in addition to the defensive skills programmes such as the identification of mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), infantry skills, medical care and logistics that UK personnel have been delivering since early 2015.
Op ORBITAL Extended to 2020
During a visit to Marinka and Kyiv in September, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson reaffirmed the United Kingdom’s commitment to Ukraine, announcing that Op ORBITAL would be extended by another two years until 2020.