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A former US Special Forces commander who was born in Hong Kong but grew up in the UK is training Ukrainian forces to battle Russians.
Andrew Milburn, who joined the US Marine Corps as a private but retired 31 years later as a Colonel established the military training centre in Ukraine, dubbed the Mozart Group, to pass on special forces skills to Kyiv.
According to Forces.net, several British Army veterans have joined the Mozart Group to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Former US Marine Colonel Andrew Milburn, centre, is in Ukraine training local special forces with a group of former British Army personnel
Colonel Milburn, who was born in Hong Kong, but grew up in London spent 31 years in the Marine Corps. He is now teaching Ukrainians how to spot IEDs and tactical awareness which will improve their chances on the front line
Colonel Milburn, pictured, said Ukrainian authorities should screen potential foreign recruits to determine if they have enough experience to allow onto the front line
Colonel Milburn commanded the first Marines to take the fight directly against ISIS
An estimated 5,000 people have volunteered to fight for Ukraine, though a surprising number of them have lacked basic military training.
Colonel Milburn said some of the non-military volunteers, including Britons and Americans have been shooting themselves to get sent back from the front lines.
He said better streaming of volunteers was necessary to determine if they have the required skills and temperament to fight on the front line.
Commenting on his programme, Colonel Milburn said: ‘We work through contacts in Ukraine’s special operations command and came up with a programme where guys are rotating out of the front line and we give them badly needed training, to make sure they at least “zero” their weapons right, they get medical training, EOD training and situational awareness training about spotting IEDs. The Russians have laid in plenty as they withdraw.’
The UK trainers, according to Colonel Milburn, ‘will not get their gun on and go on the front line and kill Russians’.
He said: ‘There are times, inadvertently or by design that we have to go on the front line to talk to units.
‘It’s a mitigated risk. We are not a reckless group of Angola-style mercenaries. We are building capability.’
‘We have had a series of incidents of guys wounding themselves purposefully to get out of combat. Westerners, Brits and Americans. There is not one nationality that are especially heinous.
‘There needs to be an assessment part, a screening point on the border before they get in country. Within a few minutes someone like myself or my guys, or veterans can tell if someone has been in the military.’
Colonel Milburn said he has been watching some commentary on Twitter with ‘armchair critics’ claiming the Russians are being pushed back or are being defeated.
Colonel Milburn said some volunteers who headed to the warzone – even from Britain and the United States – have lied about their military experience. Some, having got scared by the intense fighting have shot themselves to get away from the front lines
He said: ‘The Russians are best in the defence and they have been inept in the offence, but they have reams of mines and they have got no shortage of artillery for shells. The barrages they bring down very quickly have to be seen to be believed.’
Colonel Milburn said he had planned to become a barrister in London having completed a law degree. Instead he deferred his entrance into Lincoln Inns for five years having enlisted into the US Marine Corps.
However, after his first enlistment he decided to continue with the US Marines, rising to the rank of Colonel.