A group of American Special Operations veterans and medical professionals are on the ground in Ukraine, training Ukrainian forces, doctors and civilians in how to address a range of medicine and surgery issues, from treating front-line combat injuries to advanced trauma surgery interventions.
The Global Surgical and Medical Support Group (GSMSG) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization made up of more than 1,500 volunteers who are mostly U.S. Special Ops veterans, doctors and nurses.
Dr. Aaron Epstein, who founded GSMSG in 2015, told Fox News Digital that he and 10 other members of the organization – including physicians, surgeons and U.S. special operations veterans – are currently on the ground in Ukraine, but for operational security did not provide their exact locations.
"Our overriding goal is to train host nation populations and medical personnel in conflict zones and austere environments," Epstein told Fox News Digital.
In Ukraine, Epstein said the team has been focused on "training the population broadly to be able to handle combat injuries."
"Our teams of Special Operations veterans have continuously run combat casualty care courses and have been training at the rate of 100/day," Epstein said. "We have also run a Train-the-trainer course so that Ukrainians can go on to teach other Ukrainians how to handle battle injuries."
Epstein told Fox News Digital that the team has directly trained about 3,000 Ukrainians. Through GSMSG’s "train the trainer" program, though, Epstein said that training has reached 20,000 people in the nearly four weeks since they arrived in Ukraine.
Epstein said GSMSG also "translated the US Army's Tactical Combat Casualty Care course into native Ukrainian and dispersed it to over 20,000 viewers."
"Additionally, we have provided guidance on mass decontamination in the event of a Russian chemical weapon attack," Epstein said. "Our team also, since the beginning of the war, has had the only US surgical presence on the ground inside Ukraine."
"Utilizing the U.S. Army Special Forces model of developing host nation capabilities, we are having a significant force multiplier effect in terms of being able to save lives in Ukraine," one veteran of 18Delta, an Army special forces medic, on the GSMSG team in Ukraine told Fox News Digital.
In Ukraine and with their trainees, Epstein said that the "feeling on the ground is one of resolve."
"This is the definition of standing up for freedom in the face of tyranny and oppression," he said.
Epstein told Fox News Digital that the "most important thing" his team provides is "training," saying it "builds a long-term capability that is organic to the Ukrainian forces and population."
"Some of the training programs we have initiated are entirely run by the Ukrainians themselves now," Epstein said. "Our ultimate mission objective is to become obsolete here and for the Ukrainians to be able to develop their own indigenous capabilities."
Epstein said that is organization has "legitimate connections with the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Health, as well as their emergency medical services."
"GSMSG uniquely combines incredibly robust security networks, veterans from the special operations community, and host nation partners, in a way that allows for high-level medical providers to operate in a country."
Epstein told Fox News Digital that GSMSG has done "nearly a dozen deployments to Iraq," and said the group "assisted with the evacuation of nearly 600 individuals from Kabul" during the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan. The organization also helped to staff field hospitals set up in New York City during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon, this week, assessed for the first time that Russians may be "slightly below a 90% level of assessed available combat power" in Ukraine. Putin, at the time of the initial invasion, had amassed 150,000 soldiers at the Ukraine border.
U.S. security officials continue to warn that Russian President Vladimir Putin may be looking to bring supplemental forces into Ukraine to aid his war as Russian ground forces remain stalled across the country.
But on the ground, Epstein told Fox News Digital that the Russian military "has proven to be inept, ineffective and incompetent."
"Their denial and deception capabilities, for sure, are top tier because they have fooled the world for decades into thinking they are the second most powerful military on earth," Epstein said. "The reality is, though, that their military could be annihilated on the battlefield by the U.S. in minutes."