YAVORIV, Ukraine -- Paratroopers with the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade initiated the third rotation of Fearless Guardian here Sept. 15, 2015, after training more than 400 soldiers with the Ukrainian national guard in the previous four months.
Fearless Guardian is the name for the Congressionally-approved, Departments of State and Defense initiative under the Global Security Contingency Fund-Ukraine. The paratroopers are in Ukraine at the request of the Ukrainian government to train several battalions of the newly-established Ukrainian national guard. The training is scheduled to last until November.
The training started in the morning with more than an hour of physical training involving a five kilometer group run and an introduction to the U.S. Army's method of physical readiness training.
"This morning's exercise was interesting and hard," said Lt. Vavelyk Vlodimir, a platoon leader for the Ukrainian guardsmen in training. "We hope to learn a lot from them [paratroopers] and we will teach them some things also, maybe come up with an entirely new way of doing things altogether."
After the morning's run the troops changed and ate breakfast before heading out to the training area to start the two-months of training.
"I am excited about the training, knowing we came here to help another country," said Sgt. 1st Class Cesar Andrew Tuason, a platoon sergeant for Company A, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade. "They can provide some help to us also, we will be learning from each other."
The paratroopers spent the first day conducting a practical exercise with the Ukrainians, teaching them how to emplace and breach a mined wired-obstacle. The paratroopers demonstrated the methods they expect the guardsmen to use through a classroom session and by going through the exercise themselves allowing the guardsmen to see firsthand.
"I feel good, the guardsmen are paying attention and asking a lot of good questions," said Sgt. Travis Walker, an instructor with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. "Some of the suggestions are useful and make sense, at other times we have to explain why it wouldn't work, a good learning environment for all of us."
During Fearless Guardian paratroopers will train the guardsmen in a progressive manner, starting with individual soldiers skills such as marksmanship, movement drills and combat first aid. The training will become more complex as the guardsmen will use the skills learned on a squad and platoon level culminating with a company-size field exercise towards the end of the rotation.