Yesterday we noted the US Marines decision to relax the requirements attached to the force's physical fitness test. As the US does whatever it takes to boost their enlistment numbers, Ukraine youth squads wearing Russian soldier uniforms are breaking down Kalashnikovs inside 10 seconds, blindfolded.
And in some instances the youth soldiers are 15 year old girls.
The leader of the teens, Sergey Fomchenko, tells GlobalPost "Since Soviet time, the military and patriotic education of school children was a priority...to cultivate love of school, motherland, and city."
GlobalPost reports the youth squads of the Soviet era are making a comeback in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian youths seek to embrace the national history that is tied to the Soviet past. The teens yearn to revive the Soviet tradition of youth squads being birthed within cities.
The training of youths in Ukraine is nothing new but in lieu of the new rules being adopted by the US military, it should be concerning for US citizens to see what their forces are up against.
In 2015 VICE News embedded in the Donetsk region and reported that they witnessed schools where children were educated in hand-to-hand combat. As Veronika Silchenko reported in June 2015:
"They [the regional youth of Ukraine] have been trained in fighting with knives, hand-to-hand combat, and how to operate guns at the local school in Amvrosievka for the last five years. And they invited us as to see them participate in a regional competition called 'Future Warrior'."
On a tangent note, in South Africa the youth military is being used as a deterrent, not an enlistment effort. The organization is sold as a way to prevent a swelling gang membership, increasing drug abuse, and increasing unemployment. As News24 put it:
"The ANC and its allies believe military training will tackle the social alienation of youth, gangsterism, alcohol and drug abuse – and instill discipline, patriotism and volunteerism. Hlagala said it was envisaged that some participants would emerge as professionals including doctors, pilots and engineers, while others would take on technical and artisan jobs."
We are not military generals but we would advise the American forces to not bring their push-up counts to a teenage Ukrainian Kalashnikov fight.
National defense is a way of thinking. It is not something you merely do by the numbers. The focus needs to begin in the mind, not in making sure some potential servicemen or servicewomen are able to complete an arbitrary fitness test. The children abroad are being trained in school for combat and conditioned to defend the "motherland". Sadly, the US is focused on whether or not to supplement push-ups with either pull-ups or a fixed-hang.