The West has supplied Ukraine with a range of weapons worth billions of dollars to help it endure in its war with Russia. The Pentagon is concerned that Ukrainian troops may find it hard to tell friends from foes.

The U.S. Army feels that it may have the answer to this dilemma. According to a New York Times report, the U.S. is issuing a pack of playing cards depicting 52 different NATO-made vehicles – including tanks, armored personnel carriers, and trucks – as well as artillery pieces and other weapons systems.

The idea is to enable soldiers “to identify equipment belonging to friendly forces,” said Maj. Andrew Harshbarger, a spokesman for the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command.

Draft examples of the playing cards

Credit: U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command

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It’s not a new concept. During World War II, packs of cards were designed to allow troops to differentiate allied and enemy aircraft. In more modern times, the U.S. has issued similar decks in the past to help forces familiarize themselves with everything from Iraqi fugitives to Chinese, Russian and Iranian military equipment.

Each card within this latest deck has a picture of a weapons system, along with its name, country of manufacture, export destinations and main armament.

Announcing the concept, a U.S. statement said the cards were not specifically aimed at helping with Ukraine’s fight against Russia but could be used by any friendly army: “NATO equipment that has proliferated to many non-NATO countries.”

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After months of partisan infighting, the United States House of Representatives finally approved the major package in a vote Saturday, giving a morale boost to Ukrainian forces.

That said, it is particularly pertinent in Ukraine, where around $68 billion has been made in commitments for weapons and military aid. Since the February 2022 Russian invasion, Ukraine has become the world’s third-largest arms importer, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

The weapons shown in the new deck have either already been sent to Ukraine, are being trained on, or are under consideration for donation by Ukraine’s partners.

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The ace of clubs is the M270 MLRS, an American-built tracked equivalent of the HIMARS precision rocket launcher that Britain sent to Ukraine last year. The eight of diamonds is the Dana SPH self-propelled Howitzer, produced by Czechoslovakia in the Cold War, which the Czech Republic and Slovakia are believed to have provided.

 

Not all the items in the deck have appeared on Ukraine’s battlefields. The pack includes, for instance, Britain’s Warrior fighting vehicle and the French AMX 10P, although there have been no confirmed reports either country is considering sending them.

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