Russian Engineer Troops Gain Assault Combat Mission

Universal Armored Engineer Vehicle (UBIM)

“The engineer troops are being transformed from a support role into an independent strike force capable of participating in a modern war.”

In most militaries, engineer units are combat enablers (support units) for maneuver units (infantry, armor, etc). Due to Russia’s combat experience in Ukraine, this may be changing, as Russia is envisioning engineer units assuming a combat role, capable of accomplishing independent assault operations in addition to typical engineer missions. The accompanying excerpted article from the Russian newspaper Izvestia attributes this change to the fact that Russian troops have frequently had to assault heavily fortified areas.  The article also delves into how this reform will be implemented, to include organizational changes such as forming “assault detachments” in engineer units and engineer reconnaissance-assault brigades in combined arms armies, as well as the addition of new types of equipment such as the universal armored engineer vehicle. If this effort is perceived as a success, it is possible other militaries will consider emulating such reforms.


Alexey Mikhailov, Yulia Leonova, Andrey Fedorov, “В дело с техникой: инженерные войска переориентируют на штурмовые действия: Их оснащают боевыми машинами для разведки и разрушения долговременных укреплений (In business with technology: The engineer troops are reoriented to assault operations:), Izvestiya (major Russian daily newspaper), 23 January 2024.

The Russian Ministry of Defense has approved a program to increase the combat capabilities of engineer regiments and brigades – this year they will get new units equipped with specialized assault and reconnaissance equipment…We are talking about universal armored engineer vehicles (UBIM) [Универсальная бронированная инженерная машина (УБИМ)]

From the first months of the special military operation, Russian troops were faced with the need to regularly storm fortified areas of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.[i]  Particularly strong field fortifications were encountered in the Donbass that were erected over the course of eight years. This required Russian troops to adapt to new conditions and change tactics. Specialized assault detachments were formed with weapons and equipment to break through enemy defenses. Since last year, the military department decided to scale up this experience and create [engineer] reconnaissance-assault brigades in combined arms armies.In recent years, the Ministry of Defense has been carrying out a large-scale reform of the engineer troops. The engineer troops are being transformed from a support role into an independent strike force capable of participating in a modern war. The actions of the engineers are no longer limited to the construction of field fortifications, route clearance, and bridge building — now they also storm fortified areas, covertly place mines, and quickly conduct ​​explosive ordinance disposal.


[i] Moscow uses the term spetsial’naya voyennaya operatsiya (“special military operation”) or spetsoperatsiya (“special operation”) to describe its campaign in Ukraine.

Image Information:

Image: Universal Armored Engineer Vehicle (UBIM)
Attribution: Vitaly Kuzmin, CC BY-SA 4.0