Ukrainian priests complete frontline training in the UK

In response to a request from the Armed Forces of Ukraine, on June 5 the UK Ministry of Defense announced that a group of ten Ukrainian chaplains had been embedded with the British Army’s Royal Army Chaplains Department over the past two weeks, completing training with British forces.

Chaplains worked with their British counterparts to gain knowledge that would then equip them to provide pastoral care, spiritual support and moral guidance during military operations, as well as the subsequent post-war reconstruction phase.

The participants provided support to troops currently undergoing battlefield training in Wiltshire as part of the UK-led training of Ukrainian recruits.

Over 15,000 members of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been trained by the UK and its allies in various areas, including the basics of frontline combat and specialist training. Key recruits undergo a rigorous five-week training program that equips them with essential skills to defend their country upon their return to Ukraine. Training covers a range of topics including weapons handling, battlefield first aid, field craft, patrol tactics and the law of armed conflict.

This chaplaincy course, the first of its kind to be taught in the UK, was developed by British military personnel and supported by the UK Armed Forces as part of Operation Orbital. Its goal was to provide the ten chaplains with planning tools, religious and pastoral resources, and practical experience to enhance their effectiveness on the front line.

Officially established in 2021, the branch of the Ukrainian military has seen a steady increase in its membership. Currently, the branch consists of 160 priests representing a wide range of faiths. The organization has set a goal to increase the number of their seminarians to 738 in order to provide spiritual and pastoral assistance to all units, hospitals and training sites.

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The Reverend Michael D Parker KHC CF, a British army general, said the priesthood was considered a “critical skill for Ukrainian commanders”.

“Chaplains are in demand and it is truly humbling to be asked to support them in deepening their understanding of their role in war,” continued Rev. Parker. “These ten priests responded to the call of their nation. they are no longer just our international partners, they are our colleagues and friends. I pray that God will bless, protect and guide them as they return to Ukraine.”

The program was dedicated to providing chaplaincy services in an operational environment, providing the necessary religious and practical resources to support staff in the most difficult aspects of operations, including bereavement and bereavement, as well as mental health difficulties.

Since its founding in 1796, the Chaplain Army Department she has become famous for her role in providing comfort, support and empathy to people affected by conflict. For more than 75 years, chaplains have been an integral part of the British Army, providing support and care to soldiers and their families regardless of their beliefs, values ​​or social status. They have been deployed in every location where British troops have been sent since 1945.

“These ministers are driven by their faith to walk out the door, unarmed, in the face of any enemy, so they can care for people of all faiths,” said the Reverend Robin Richardson, chaplain of the Royal Army unit. responsible for program development. “They operate in conditions we could never dream of experiencing ourselves, relying on their faith to support those navigating the chaos of war and doing what they can to give soldiers hope.

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The UK bespoke program showcases the extensive range of training that has been provided to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. This training included skills including basic infantry training, medical training and instruction in the operation of Challenger 2 tanks.

In 2022, the UK government increased military aid to Ukraine to around £2.3 billion and the Prime Minister has pledged to continue this support in 2023, meeting that amount. The aid package already includes over 10,000 anti-tank missiles, 100,000 rounds of artillery ammunition and critical air defense capabilities, including more than a hundred anti-aircraft guns and self-propelled guns. Plans are underway to provide an additional 100,000 rounds of artillery ammunition in 2023.

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