YAVORIV, Ukraine (July 31, 2015) -- Approximately 1,800 soldiers from 18 different, NATO and partner, countries concluded the 12-day long multinational exercises Saber Guardian/Rapid Trident, or SG/RT, July 31, with a ceremony honoring the participants from each country at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center here.
The ceremony marks the 20th year of military cooperation between the Ukraine and U.S.
"This year's training was more complex as we combined the command post [Saber Guardian] and field [RapidTrident] exercises into a single event," said Col. Alfred Renzi, the co-director of Rapid Trident training. "This is the natural evolution of a 20-year, rock solid, relationship between two armies."
"Two weeks ago you stood on this field as 18 different national contingents, today I see a single, multinational, brigade," said the Waterford, New York-native. "We talked a lot about interoperability during the training, now we see it in practice."
Rapid Trident is an annual field training exercise, held in Ukraine, focused on defensive operations to ensure a safe and secure environment within the operating environment. This year it is combined with Saber Guardian, a command post exercise part of U.S. European Command's Joint Exercise Program designed to enhance joint combined interoperability with allied and partner nations and rotates between Romania, Bulgaria, and Ukraine.
The participants of the exercise spent the first nine days of SG/RT preparing for the culminating two-day-long field exercise by conducting various training.
"We practiced non-lethal weapons training with the U.S Marines including crowd-control, we also conducted convoy operations and react to ambush training before we started our final event," said Cpl. Serhiy Hominich, squad leader from the Ukrainian Navy Marine's 2nd Platoon, Airborne Assault Company. "Most importantly, Rapid Trident was a good way for us to compare ourselves and our tactics with soldiers from other countries, allows us to make sure we stay as current as possible."
During the final field exercise, soldiers are put into a fictitious scenario that tested all aspects of their preparation, from providing security and convoy operations to non-lethal weapons and react to ambush. All done as part of a multinational force under multinational command.
"From my perspective as a Ukrainian, today stand 17 nations an arms length from my people in their efforts for freedom and independence," said Ukrainian Col. Oleksander Sivak, co-director of Rapid Trident training. "This is the significance I see from this training and for that, I thank every single one of you."