September 26, 2023

Early within the morning they had been at their ahead positions, firing artillery on the Russian troops. A number of hours later, in the identical uniform and physique armor, they handed the final check – an impediment course – and formally grew to become Ukrainian marines.

Operating by way of puddles and dirt, crawling underneath barbed wire and thru simulated anti-tank ditches, they shouted: “Glory to Ukraine!” and “I like Marines!” The commanders shouted out orders and compelled them to do push-ups.

Once they had been accomplished, they loaded into pickup vans and drove again to the entrance to affix the Ukrainian counter-offensive in southern Ukraine.

Searching for to replenish their ranks within the midst of conflict, the Ukrainian navy trains troopers and conducts qualification assessments even after being despatched to the entrance. The impediment course the Marines lately climbed on a heat summer time day was one instance: it was constructed just some miles from precise fight, together with the identical trenches, bunkers, and barbed wire used through the conflict in opposition to Russia.

Candidates from the thirty sixth Marine Brigade had been moved from the entrance strains to take the course. Candidates required no less than three months of fight expertise to take part. Lots of the first group of 40 gunners noticed extra.

“I’ve been preventing for eight months now and on a regular basis on essentially the most troublesome sectors of the entrance,” mentioned Lieutenant Arseniy, who, like others interviewed for this text, for safety causes, requested to be recognized solely by his title and rank. Though he was an artillery platoon chief, he was not but approved to put on a naval beret.

Soiled and exhausted, the boys had been nonetheless in good spirits as they greeted one another earlier than working.

“The day has come when you possibly can present that you’re a actual marine,” Main Nazariy Tofan, who helped lead the coaching, instructed the candidates. “It’s best to keep in mind this race for the remainder of your life.”

As Ukraine fights on lots of of miles of entrance line in a conflict that has lasted 17 months and reveals no signal of abating, it should substitute fallen troopers and proceed coaching those that have been deployed with out finishing formal coaching. The thirty sixth Marine Brigade was preventing within the southern metropolis of Mariupol after Russia launched its full-scale invasion final winter, holding out for weeks at a metal plant that was relentlessly shelled by Moscow troops.

Many died or had been wounded, greater than a thousand had been captured. The previous brigade commander remains to be in captivity in Russia.

Solely about 200 Marines escaped encirclement. The survivors had been redeployed to combat within the south of the Kherson area and new troops had been referred to as in. The thirty sixth is now concerning the dimension of a brigade, about 4,000 Marines.

The impediment course has been designed to imitate actual fight circumstances as intently as attainable. Smoke bombs and fireworks exploded. There was an ambush. Fellow Marines fired blanks and yelled on the candidates.

54-year-old personal Sergei started to fall behind. The physician got here to examine on him, discovered that he had hypertension, and gave him an injection. He did not cross the course.

“This conflict is not for me,” he mentioned.

“This isn’t for any of us in Ukraine,” the physician replied.

The remainder of the candidates ran on, plodding by way of mud and burning tires. When the course ended, 39 out of 40 certified.

After the opposite teams accomplished their mission, a ceremony occurred the place the newly minted Marines took an oath to be courageous and never abandon their brothers in arms and acquired their berets. Then they returned to the entrance.

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