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Retired Marine colonel is teaching Ukrainians how to fight

Rogue Valley

Putin = War Criminal
DP Veteran
Apr 18, 2013
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Retired Marine colonel is teaching Ukrainians how to fight


Andy Milburn commanded a special operations task force fighting the Islamic State in Iraq. But the retired Marine colonel says he’s never seen atrocities like the ones committed by the Russians in Ukraine. “I have seen a lot of devastation and depravity of mankind,” he said. He was in Bucha, outside Kyiv, where the bodies of hundreds of massacred civilians, including children, were found after Russian forces were driven from the city. “Bucha — Bucha was something that really…left me numb for several days. Milburn, who retired in 2019 as deputy commander of U.S. special operations forces in the Middle East, traveled to Ukraine in March intending to cover the conflict as a journalist. But he quickly decided he needed to get involved. He formed the Mozart Group, drawing in other former British and American commandos to create a team of special operations veterans that trains and equips Ukrainian soldiers. The name was intended as a counterpoint to the Wagner Group, a notorious Russian mercenary organization. But Milburn says his group does not fight. He says he has about 10 to 15 trainers in the country at any one time, all vetted by his contacts in the British and American militaries. All are volunteers.

He’s been impressed by the bravery of Ukrainian soldiers. Knocking out Russian tanks has become “almost passe here,” he said. “There are guys who will, with a handheld weapon like the Javelin or the NLAW (antitank weapon) or an RPG, knock out two or three T-72s in the course of the day and not even think of it as worth discussing. Things that would get you a silver star or a Navy Cross in the U.S.” Milburn believes his team has made a difference. In addition to basic tactics, the Mozart Group has trained Ukrainians how to be snipers and how to remove landmines, he says, and they have also removed landmines themselves. “I can tell you without any proof that I am confident that we have probably saved Ukrainian lives,” he said. “And I hope inflicted more pain on the Russians because of the training that they’ve had.” But he says the conflict is in a new phase, “a grinding war of attrition … and that’s why it’s so important to tip the balance back in favor of the Ukrainians," he said. "On one side, you’ve got mass, just a never-ending supply of personnel. The Russians are taking heavy casualties, but they just don’t care.”

Train them well Sir.

Semper Fi
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