The Russia-Ukraine war is grinding into year two, well past early predictions for a quick conclusion. And while U.S. troops aren’t deployed there to fight directly, their expertise is felt daily. Scott Thuman has reports from the North Carolina woods to Poland on U.S. efforts to help other countries fight their battles.
For two weeks every year, an expansive area of North Carolina becomes a battleground.
Stretching across 19 counties and 10,000 square miles, the men and women who pass this final exercise will join the elite ranks of the Army’s Special Forces Command, the Green Berets. The drill is called “Robin Sage.”
Col. Wheeler: All of our training for Robin Sage is actually through a fictitious land called Pineland, of course.
Scott Thuman: And this is Pineland.
Col. Wheeler: This is Pineland.
In this role-playing, these Green Beret trainees, whose faces we cannot show, are helping the locals mount a resistance to a fictitious enemy, who’s taken their land.
Col. Goose: We plan, and we go through what it takes — the steps to get these fighters ready.
Supporting a guerrilla force as it stands up to an unwanted occupier is a template that can be applied to scenarios around the world today. In fact, U.S-trained military contractors have been using Green Beret tactics to teach Ukrainian soldiers how best to push back this brutal Russian invasion.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin:
Lloyd Austin: “The Kremlin is still betting that it can wait us out. But one year on, we are as united as ever. And that shared resolve will help sustain Ukraine's momentum in the crucial weeks ahead and help Ukraine travel the challenging road that lies beyond.”
But it’s equally important they have the right tools.
This was on a firing range in Zagan, Poland, where we watched American soldiers stationed in Europe work hand-in-hand with European armies, in this case, practicing strategies that are being used today in Ukraine. Even then, U.S. commanders told us, their greatest worry was Russian aggression.
Lt. Col. Curry: Stability in this region is something that, you know, everyone is concerned about maintaining, or security in this region. Really for us, where the threat comes from, you know, we're here to demonstrate our capability and demonstrate, again, the strength of our partnership, regardless of what the threat is.
Now, on those very same fields, the alliance is training the Ukrainians to use advanced tanks being supplied by Poland and soon also from the United States. Some already part of the fight — the first series delivered to Ukraine in late February.
America has a deep history of impacting overseas wars. In Afghanistan and Iraq, American contractors and U.S. troops did the bulk of the fighting. It is now a different role for America in Ukraine — not manning the front lines, but instead providing hardware and know-how.
The basics, born back in those North Carolina woods, and being applied around the globe. I'm Scott Thuman for Full Measure.