Saturday, May 14, 2022

The Ukrainian Mountain Assault Brigade

The 128th Separate Mountain Assault Transcarpathian Brigade is one of the most powerful units in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Following years of deployment in east Ukraine, they're now fighting on the front lines against invading Russian forces and making headlines for their efforts.

To become an elite mountain soldier in the 128th Separate Mountain Assault Transcarpathian Brigade, candidates must complete a gruelling obstacle course in full combat gear within a set time. In the foothills of the Carpathian mountains, troops cross rivers and ascend cliffs while shooting at targets and carrying "wounded" comrades over this challenging terrain. Finishers earn a grey assault beret displaying the brigade's mountain insignia: an edelweiss flower and crossed axes.

"Many soldiers dream of owning such a beret," said 128th Major, Yaroslav Galas.

In late December 2021, soldiers of the 128th had marched with rifles in a homecoming ceremony in Uzhhorod, western Ukraine, hugging relatives and celebrating their return from the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) in the east of the country, where they had defended the occupied Donbas region since 2014.

Barely two months later in February 2022, the brigade was redeployed across Ukraine, fighting on some of the fiercest front lines to defend their country against Russia's invading forces.

In addition to defending Ukraine, soldiers have been deployed abroad on peacekeeping missions in Iraq, Lebanon, Sierra Leone and the former Yugoslavia.

*Natalka and her Shar-Pei puppy, Alma, defending their territory

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