Pentagon prints playing cards ‘to train Ukrainians’ – NYT

Deck of cards shows NATO-made weapons systems, including those shipped to Kiev to fight Russia, the newspaper said

The US Army is to print a deck of playing cards featuring NATO weapons systems and will send them to states outside of the US-led bloc, including Ukraine, The New York Times reported on Tuesday. The cards will supposedly help Ukrainian troops “to tell friends from foes.”

The training tool was developed by the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command and will enable soldiers to quickly “identify enemy equipment and distinguish the equipment from friendly forces,” according to its spokesman, Maj. Andrew Harshbarger. It features information about “NATO equipment that has proliferated to non-NATO countries.”

According to draft examples posted by the Times, each card has a photo of a weapons system and lists its country of origin, manufacturer, the munitions used and operators. For example, the US-made M-270 MLRS rocket artillery launcher is said to be sold to Bahrain, Egypt, Finland, Israel, the UAE and Ukraine. Kiev received some of the systems from the UK last year.

The newspaper said most but not all of the face cards feature American systems. Christopher Skaluba, a former senior Pentagon official who currently holds a position in the pro-NATO think tank Atlantic Council, told the Times it was the first Pentagon deck that he knew of that included only NATO arms.

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The US military has been printing playing cards doubling as training aids since World War II, but usually they are meant to teach soldiers how to tell friendly forces from enemy ones in the field. Russia and Ukraine have some common Soviet-designed weapons in their arsenals, but Russian troops do not use NATO hardware.

During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon also produced a deck with photos of top government officials, including Saddam Hussein, depicted as the ace of spades.

The newspaper reported that a total of 52 systems were included in the deck. But it also said that the Stinger shoulder-fired missile was one of the jokers and that it could be used to play poker, presumably meaning that it has 54 cards.

The US and its allies have showered Ukraine with military assistance, claiming it would help the country defeat Russia. Moscow considers the conflict to be part of a Western proxy war instigated by Washington. Western arms producers have enjoyed a windfall as NATO members scrambled to replace stockpiles depleted by donating aid to Ukraine.

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