An ex-US Army general who witnessed Russia's basic training of recruits says it was awful, and the 'newbies' being drafted face disaster on the front line




Servicemen stand in front of a tank during the
Servicemen stand in front of a tank during the 'Vostok-2022' military exercises at the Sergeevskyi training ground outside the city of Ussuriysk on the Russian Far East on September 6, 2022.  
  • Russia has called up 300,000 reservists to be drafted to Ukraine.

  • A former US Army general said this was a sign of weakness, suggesting they will lack proper training.

  • Mark Hertling said he had witnessed how the Russian army is "poorly led and poorly trained."

A former US Army general said that Russia's announced mobilization of 300,000 reservists was a "jaw-dropping" sign of weakness.

Mark Hertling, who commanded the US Army Europe, explained in a Twitter thread that he has personally witnessed how the Russian army is "poorly led and poorly trained."

The poor training, coupled with the decision to draft in recruits with little experience, is likely to spell disaster for Russia, he said.

"Mobilizing 300k "reservists" (after failing with depleted conventional forces, rag-tag militias.. recruiting prisoners & using paramilitaries like the Wagner group) will be extremely difficult," Hertling said.

"And placing "newbies" on a front line that has been mauled, has low morale & who don't want to be portends more [Russian] disaster."

Putin announced on Wednesday the partial mobilization of the country's military reservists, with Russian officials stating that 300,000 reservists will be drafted immediately.

Only those with combat experience will be called up, and students and current conscripts will not be included, according to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Since the announcement was made, reports have emerged about Russians trying to flee to avoid deployment, and plane tickets out of country selling out.

Insider reported that recruits being drafted this week were totally unsuitable and included a 63-year-old man with diabetes.

Horrible leadership by "drill sergeants"

Hertling, who for a time also commanded all basic and advanced soldier training for the US Army, said that during two visits to Russia he found the army's training to be "awful."

He compared Russia's army training with the US', which typically involves new soldiers getting 10 weeks of basic training across several sites from "very professional drill sergeants," and many going on to get more specialized training.

The former general cited a Moscow Times article from July, six months into the invasion of Ukraine, which said that soldiers were being sent to the front line with minimal basic training.

Sergei Krivenko, the director of the human rights group Citizen. Army. Law. told the outlet: "I've been regularly approached by parents whose children signed a [military] contract and ended up in Ukraine just a week later."

The article also quoted one Russian soldier who said he received just five days of training before being sent to combat in Ukraine.

Hertling said when he visited Russia, he noted that Russian army training faced many issues, including "horrible leadership by drill sergeants," and cited an article about hazing.

He said that officers told him theirs was a "one year" force, with some, often the poorest, volunteering or being elected for leadership roles.

By comparison, Hertling said that Ukraine's army more closely follows the US model after having received training from US personnel in both individual and unit training techniques since 2014.

The issue of Russian army training, according to Hertling, starts "in basic training, and doesn't get better during the [Russian] soldier's time in uniform."

Insider reached out to Hertling for comment.

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