On the frontlines of the Donbas War are the men and women of Ukraine’s Secret Anti-Terrorism Unit as they prepare to defend their nation and its citizens.
The SDTC had situated in Lviv, Ukraine’s shadow capital, established in February after government offices, foreign consulates, and media outlets evacuated Kyiv ahead of Russian troops. “Everyone training there is a volunteer,” said Adrian Bonenberger, one of the SDTC program’s first trainers. Cadets may join the civilian Territorial Defense Forces (TDF) or have been recruited into the Ukrainian Army.
Because SDTC cadets are civilians, there is no legal barrier to their training, and the government would not ban US instructors from instructing active-duty Ukrainian military. Cadets study tactics, how to create ambushes, ground navigation, enemy vehicle identification, and “an introduction to international humanitarian law.”
The SDTC’s leader, Oleksiy Dovbush, says the program isn’t meant to be a full-fledged boot camp. According to Dr. Robert J. Bunker, research director of the security consultancy C/O Futures LLC, the cadets’ performance will decline under war stress. According to Oleksiy Dovbush, the most that can be hoped for is that basic training will render the cadets “frontline combat-capable” to fight Russian soldiers. Despite the anti-Russia rhetoric, he said kids seem to be acutely aware of the unpleasant truth.
According to Futures director Bunker, the desire for self-sacrifice and loyalty to the nation of Ukraine contrasts sharply with the morale shown by Russian troops. “Russian society is not in a state of war—the conflict had still seen as a distraction,” he remarked. The seriousness of the situation, according to Cadet Petro, makes him even more thankful for his American combat instructors.