General Stepan Poltorak – Reborn of the Ukrainian Army

In just a short period of time, we have managed to do much more for the defense of Ukraine than it was over the past twenty years.

History taught us many lessons as the people of Ukraine were capable of breaking the yoke of outlanders and becoming the masters of their own land only with a well-trained army.

The aggression of the Russian Federation, the annexation of Crimea, and the occupation of Donbass over the last year has become the turning point in the history of modern Armed Forces.

Tens of thousands of true patriots stood up to defend their own country and prevent the enemy from advancing any further. They have given their lives for criminal inaction of those who have been destroying our army for many years.

Even a blind man would notice all those remarkable changes that our army is experiencing today.

The General of Army of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak, the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, talks to the journalist of the Ukrainian army Narodna Armiya newspaper on achievements and prospects of the development of Armed Forces.
Narodna Armiya – Mr. Poltorak, how would you describe the changes in main priorities for the protection of national security and defense over the past two years?

General Stepan Poltorak –When we have started the ATO and faced with Russia’s aggression it became clear that the system of national security as it was could not function effectively. Therefore, the leadership of our country has started the course for Euro-Atlantic integration to become a key factor in determining our security and territorial integrity. In the same time, such a return in terms of the Alliance requires Ukraine to introduce a number of amendments to conceptual documents on national security and defense.
We have already developed the National Security Strategy of Ukraine, which laid the foundation to the comprehensive planning of activities to be taken by public authorities in the field of national security. All of our military-political, military-strategic, military-economic and military-technical solutions as well as respective concepts and programs in the field of national security are based on the new Military Doctrine of Ukraine and approved by the President.

These documents outline the main priorities in guaranteeing national security and facilitate the development and adaptation of our defense capabilities with NATO standards to the maximum possible extent. This is how we demonstrate the openness and transparency of our military policy to the international community and position Ukraine as a peace-loving and European state with the defense policy aimed at restoring national interests – preserving the sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of national borders.
Narodna Armiya – What are the new provisions of the Military Doctrine of Ukraine adopted by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine in early September?

General Stepan Poltorak – The Military Doctrine deals with basic principles of the National Defense Policy. For the first time since the independence of Ukraine, we have recognized the Russian Federation as a military adversary and marked the high risk of large-scale application of military forces against our country as the major threats to national security.

Among the other changes introduced into the text of the Military Doctrine are the refusal of Ukraine from its non-alignment policy and the start of integration into the political, economic and legal environment of Europe in order to seek EU membership and enhance cooperation with NATO. The document additionally sets the total military expenditures to a level of three per cent of the forecasted GDP for the corresponding year.
Narodna Armiya – What is the level of cooperation with NATO member-countries and what is the status of implementing NATO standards into the Armed Forces of Ukraine?

General  Stepan Poltorak –This is one of our present aspirations supported by foreign partners. Indeed the NATO and its member-countries highly estimated a considerable progress in the reformation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine during the NATO-Ukraine Commission in summer.
Today we are setting new ambitious goals. This October, I've approved the Plan for the transition of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to NATO standards, which includes certain activities with clear deadlines for the period up to 2020.
We have already introduced 115 NATO standards as a basis for the development of 64 national and military regulations, and adopted a list of 402 top priority NATO standards.

The NATO Summit in Wales resulted in the establishment of NATO-Ukraine Logistics and Standardization Trust Fund for three years. Another important success is the deployment of the Joint Multinational Training Group at the International Center for Peacemaking and Safety in Yavoriv, which is providing the general military and special training to units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
All these is done to build a Ukrainian army that will be on a par with world's best armies, guided by the relevant standards and procedures, and will be able to perform any task to protect the country from any aggressor.
We have more and more new challenges but I am confident of our success. Every soldier both on the frontline and in the rear will feel the results of the outlined reforms and intentions.
Narodna Armiya – Mr. Minister, what results of radical reforms in the Armed Forces of Ukraine have you already achieved?

General Stepan Poltorak – What has happened to Ukraine over the past two years has changed the attitudes and approaches to the place and role of the army. We have started radical reforms and already achieved some positive results. In just a short period of time, we have developed the Program on Optimization and Restructuring of the Armed Forces of Ukraine as the basis for the Draft State Target Defence Program of Optimization and Reorganization of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in 2015-2017.
We have managed to increase our combat potential and establish the necessary formations over the most threatening avenues of approach under condition of the special period. The new command and control system is built with consideration of the ATO experience in order to counter a possible large-scale aggression. We continue to enhance the effective combat strength of the Army by improving the striking capabilities of the highly mobile airborne troops and establishing the Special Operations Forces. Significant changes have been introduced into the system of training. Today it includes the individual training for the conscripted and mobilized personnel as well as the operational coordination of units. The work on the restoration of the Navy continues.
We have managed to create a personnel reserve of over 1.5 thousand soldiers with ATO experience. We have established five NATO-Ukraine Trust Funds for the total amount of 5.2 million euros.

The Ministry of Defense is the first and the only ministry to introduce the Anti-Corruption Program for 2015-2017. We have established the Council of Reforms to facilitate the reformation process of logistics and promote its implementation. Among other achievements is the introduction of electronic bidding, which allowed to save money on procurement, the development of over thirty specifications on items of property in accordance with NATO standards, the establishment of the Centre for Development and Support of Logistics of the Armed Forces of Ukraine based on the US equivalent and many others.
We are receiving a tremendous amount of assistance from our foreign partners in the implementation of our projects. The Concept for the Development of Armed Forces of Ukraine until 2020 was drafted in cooperation with foreign advisors from the NATO Liaison Office. Besides, we have received a set of recommendations on further reformation of the defense sector prepared by the experts from RAND Corporation.

We are planning to work on their implementation in the nearest future, as the proposed measures are extremely important for approaching the Armed Forces of Ukraine to NATO standards.

Among the priorities for the reformation in the upcoming period are the development of unified logistics, manning, reserve and the system of training. Our main goal is the development of modern, equipped and powerful armed forces capable of repelling any aggression.
Narodna Armiya – Mr. Poltorak, how would you assess the level of logistical support to the army during the ATO? What is the status of logistical and medical doctrines? What are the goals of these doctrines?
General Stepan Poltorak – I think it is worth recalling the previous years in order to understand what positive changes have been introduced into the system of logistics. For example, the clothing allowance in 2013 was only 3% of the required level. There were only 100 contracts totaling 32.2 million UAH.
This year the funding was increased to over 60%. We have concluded 619 contracts for the total amount of 2.95 billion UAH. Yet the production and supply of clothing, shoes and other items of property for the Armed Forces continues.

The National Defense Procurement Plan for 2015 provided for the procurement and supply of 1,768 new and refurbished pieces of materiel as well as over 400,000 rockets and ammunition for the purposes of the ATO. This year we have already adopted 17 new types of materiel and another 7 are to be adopted until the end of the year.

The level of materiel supply to the Armed Forces has increased 1.5 times if compared with 2014. Besides, we are expecting to receive over 2.5 thousand pieces of materiel until the end of 2015. In this case, the level of materiel supply would be four times higher.
With all those quantitative changes, we do not forget about the quality. We have established a Working Group on the development of new high quality and modern types of uniform. We have introduced new pieces of uniform and our soldiers and officers will soon be able to feel all of those changes. One of them is the new model of combat boots already provided to our soldiers on the front line.

Our pilot project on subsistence support continues. We are to engage even more units to the project since the beginning of next year.

Military Medics have drafted the Military Medical Doctrine of Ukraine. It determines the strategy and main directions for the development of medical support in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. We have also established a working group on Logistics Doctrine. This document would facilitate the effective and efficient logistical support of the Armed Forces in peacetime and in times of crisis.
Narodna Armiya – Many changes have been introduced into various training programs for the cadets of Higher Military Educational Institutions since the beginning of the ATO. What is provided under the Draft Concept for the Development of Military Education and what are the main goals of this document?
General Stepan Poltorak – A lot of special attention of the Ukrainian leadership is now attracted to military education. This year we have increased the age limit from 23 to 29 years for contracted and mobilized military personnel, who participated in ATO and expressed a desire to obtain a military profession. Besides, the military personnel can apply to the university upon the results of examinations without EIT certificates. This year we have 584 soldiers with ATO experience, who started their education at Higher Military Educational Institutions.

The contracted personnel with combat experience who suffered injuries can apply for a part-time education to get a degree in civil specialty.

The training programs for military experts are being constantly reviewed based on the situation in the Eastern Ukraine. We have introduced new disciplines into the curriculum. Some of them are military management, combat survival, military medical training, etc.
We are continuously reviewing the curriculum based on our combat experience. More attention is paid to practical and combat training, as we have to teach our officers to take bold and wise decisions. Today the major requirement to professors teaching military subjects is the availability of practical combat experience.
In order to improve our system of training, we have established a Working Group in the Ministry of Defense to draft the Concept for the Development of Military Education. It will be submitted to the Board of the Ministry of Defence for review in early 2016. This document provides for an increase in practical training of cadets, traineeship in the end of every training year, change in requirements to faculty, optimization of the system of Higher Military Educational Institutions and many other activities.



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