By Sgt. Alex SkripnichukSeptember 10, 2015
YAVORIV, Ukraine (Sept. 10, 2015) -- Paratroopers, assigned to the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade, finished the second rotation of Fearless Guardian here with the graduation of more than 200 Ukrainian national guard soldiers from the Kiev and Kharkov regions, Sept. 9.
The paratroopers are in Ukraine for Fearless Guardian at the request of the Ukrainian government to train several battalions of the newly-established Ukrainian national guard. The training is scheduled to last six months. Fearless Guardian is the name for the congressionally-approved, Departments of State and Defense initiative under the Global Security Contingency Fund-Ukraine.
A graduation ceremony at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center was conducted to mark the end of training for the guardsmen.
"It has been a long road with an incredible amount of hard work," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Michael Kloepper, commander of 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade. "You should be proud of yourselves, with the dedication shown in the last two months, I would take any one of you with me in my battalion. I have no doubt you are ready for whatever your nation asks."
Guardsmen were recognized for their outstanding performance during the ceremony with certificates given by the U.S. paratroopers.
Paratroopers have spent more than eight weeks here training this rotation of soldiers from the Ukrainian national guard, beginning with individual soldier skills including movement techniques, marksmanship skills and first aid. The soldiers progressed to squad- and platoon-level exercises with the use of live ammunition, requiring the guardsmen to work together.
The training culminated with a two-day field exercise involving a fictitious scenario in which the guardsmen were tested on every level.
"The Ukrainian national guard have proven themselves to be competent and capable," said Capt. Zachary Savarie, commander of Company B, 2nd Battalion. "The training and hard work has paid off. The guardsmen are ready to do what their country asks of them."
After the conclusion of the ceremony, guardsmen and paratroopers said their goodbyes and went their separate ways, but not before being given a small present on behalf of the 173rd Airborne Brigade.
"We are giving the guardsmen some medical supplies for the individual soldier to take with them," said 1st Lt. Nathan Wu, a medical platoon leader with Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion.
Preparation for Fearless Guardian's third rotation was already underway as the guardsmen prepared to leave and a new company of U.S. paratroopers from the brigade arrived from Vicenza, Italy, to train the next iteration.
"Honor, dignity and law - these are our values, we share them together," Kloepper said. "It's time to be professional."
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