UPA propaganda poster. OUN/UPAs formal greeting is written in Ukrainian on two of the horizontal lines Glory to Ukraine- Glory to (her) Heroes
. The soldier is standing on the banners of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.
The UPA's command structure overlapped with that of the underground nationalist political party, the OUN, in a sophisticated centralized network. The UPA was responsible for military operations while the OUN was in charge of administrative duties; each had its own chain of command. The six main departments were military, political, security service, mobilization, supply, and the Ukrainian Red Cross. Despite the division between the UPA and the OUN, there was overlap between their posts and the local OUN and UPA leaders were frequently the same person. Organizational methods were borrowed and adapted from the German, Polish and Soviet military, while UPA units based their training on a modified Red Army field unit manual.
The General Staff, formed at the end of 1943 consisted of operations, intelligence, training, logistics, personnel and political education departments. UPA's largest units, Kurins, consisting of 500-700 soldiers, were equivalent to battalions in a regular army, and its smallest units, Riys (literally bee swarm), with eight to ten soldiers, were equivalent to squads. Occasionally, and particularly in Volyn, during some operations three or more Kurins would unite and form a Zahin or Brigade.
UPA's leaders were: Vasyl Ivakhiv (Spring – 13 of May 1943), Dmytro Klyachkivsky, Roman Shukhevych (January 1944 until 1950) and finally Vasyl Kuk.
In November 1943, the UPA adopted a new structure, creating a Main Military Headquarters and three areas (group) commands: UPA-West, UPA-North and UPA-South. Three military schools for low-level command staff were also established.
Former policemen constituted a large proportion of the UPA leadership, and they comprised about half of the UPA membership in 1943. In terms of UPA soldiers' social background, 60 percent were peasants of low to moderate means, 20 to 25 percent were from the working class (primarily from the rural lumber and food industries), and 15 percent members of the intelligentsia (students, urban professionals). The latter group provided a large portion of the UPA's military trainers and officer corps. With respect to the origins of UPA's members, 60 percent were from Galicia and 30 percent from Volhynia and Polesia.
The number of UPA fighters varied. A German Abwehr report from November 1943 estimated that the UPA had 20,000 soldiers;:188 other estimates at that time placed the number at 40,000. By the summer of 1944, estimates of UPA membership varied from 25,000–30,000 fighters up to 100,000 or even 200,000 soldiers.
The Ukrainian Insurgent Army was structured into four units:
Regions: Volhynia, Polissia.
- Military District "Turiv"
Commander – Maj. Rudyj.
Squads: "Bohun", "Pomsta Polissja", "Nalyvajko".
- Military District "Zahrava"
Commander – Ptashka (Sylvester Zatovkanjuk).
Squads: "Konovaletsj", "Enej", "Dubovyj", "Oleh".
- Military District " Volhynia-South"
Commander – Bereza.
Squads: "Kruk", "H.".
Regions: Halychyna, Bukovyna, Zakarpattia, Zakerzonia.
- Military District "Lysonja"
Commander – Maj. Hrim, V.
Kurins: "Holodnojarci", "Burlaky", "Lisovyky", "Rubachi", "Bujni", "Holky".
- Military District "Hoverlja"
Commander – Maj. Stepovyj (from 1945 – Major Hmara).
Kurins: "Bukovynsjkyj", "Peremoha", "Hajdamaky", "Huculjskyj", "Karpatsjkyj".
- Military District "Black Forest"
Commander – Col. Rizun-Hrehit (Mykola Andrusjak).
Kurins: "Smertonosci", "Pidkarpatsjkyj", "Dzvony", "Syvulja", "Dovbush", "Beskyd", "Menyky".
- Military District "Makivka"
Commander – Maj. Kozak.
Kurins: "Ljvy", "Bulava", "Zubry", "Letuny", "Zhuravli", "Bojky of Chmelnytsjkyj", "Basejn".
- Military District "Buh"
Commander – Col. Voronnyj
Kurins: "Druzhynnyky", "Halajda", "Kochovyky", "Perejaslavy", "Tyhry", "Perebyjnis"
- Military District "Sjan"
Commander – Orest
Kurins: "Vovky", "Menyky", Kurin of Ren, Kurin of Eugene.
Regions: Khmelnytskyi Oblast, Zhytomyr Oblast, southern region of Kyiv Oblast, southern regions of Ukraine,
and especially in cities Odessa, Kryvyi Rih, Dnipropetrovsk, Mariupol, Donetsk.
- Military District "Cholodnyj Jar"
Commander – Kost'.
Kurins: Kurin of Sabljuk, Kurin of Dovbush.
- Military District "Umanj"
Commander – Ostap.
Kurins: Kurin of Dovbenko, Kurin of Buvalyj, Kurin of Andrij-Shum.
- Military District "Vinnytsja"
Commander – Jasen.
Kurins: Kurin of Storchan, Kurin of Mamaj, Kurin of Burevij.
Regions: northern strip of Zhytomyr Oblast, northern region of Kyiv Oblast, and Chernihiv Oblast.
World War II-era monument in memory of UPA fighters with inscription "Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!"
, in place of the Janowa Dolina massacre
The greeting "Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!" (Slava Ukrayini! Heroyam slava!) appeared in the 1930s among members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) who started using this slogan. Since October 2018 Glory to Ukraine is an official greeting of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Ukrainian National Police.
The anthem of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army was called the March of the Ukrainian Nationalists, also known as We were born in a great hour (Ukrainian: Зродились ми великої години). The song, written by Oles Babiy, was officially adopted by the leadership of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists in 1932.
The organization was a successor of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen, whose anthem was "Chervona Kalyna". Leaders of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen Yevhen Konovalets and Andriy Melnyk were founding members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. For this reason, "Chervona Kalyna" was frequently used by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.
The battle flag of the UPA was a 2:3 ratio red-and-black banner. The flag continues to be a symbol of the Ukrainian nationalist movement. The colours of the flag symbolize 'red Ukrainian blood spilled on the black Ukrainian earth. Use of the flag is also a "sign of the stubborn endurance of the Ukrainian national idea even under the grimmest conditions."