Progress made on Ukrainian military reform as Fearless Guardian II's first rotation nears end

By Capt. Russell GordonFebruary 4, 2016

US and Lithuania soldiers instruct Ukrainian soldiers during a live-fire exercise
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Soldiers with the Ukrainian Army along with paratroopers with the 173rd Airborne Brigade conduct a platoon live-fire exercise Jan. 29, 2016, at the International Peacekeeping Security Center near Yavoriv, Ukraine. The training focuses on defensive co... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
JMTG-U works with Ukrainian military leaders to improve range safety and operations
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Sgt. 1st Class Michael Deleon (right), a soldier assigned to Joint Multinational Training Group Ukraine, speaks with Col. Viktor Shpin (left), deputy commander for the International Peacekeeping and Security Center about range operations and developm... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

YAVORIV, Ukraine - Paratroopers from the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade are near the end of their mission to train soldiers with the Ukrainian army at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center near Yavoriv, Ukraine.

The first of five Ukrainian army battalions will graduate Feb. 12 as part of Fearless Guardian II. Before they graduate, Ukrainian soldiers will complete training focusing on defensive combat skills culminating with a series of live-fire and situational training exercises.

Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia, will relieve the paratroopers of the 173rd Abn. Bde. This transition will be the first time that an active unit from the continental U.S. has deployed to Ukraine in support of Fearless Guardian II.

"We eagerly await the arrival of 3-15 Infantry from Fort Stewart. It's a distinguished unit with an incredible array of talented leaders who will instruct the next set of Ukrainian airborne and mechanized infantry rotations. Although based in the United States, 3-15th's train up and previous deployments will result in a smooth transition and mission assumption from the departing 1-91 Cav.," said Lt. Col. Nick Ducich, Joint Multinational Training Group Ukraine commander.

In order to make a long-term, lasting effect the headquarters of the mission to Ukraine, JMTG-U, has made substantial gains in institutional and doctrinal changes as part of combat training center development. These gains include implementing range security measures, instructing Ukrainian staff on how to conduct range operations and creating a program to assess and develop a Ukrainian training cadre.

"The tendency of some is to focus on the five Ukrainian battalions completing their individual 55 day rotations throughout this calendar year. However, the enduring effort is to solidify a modern and sustainable training center in which future Ukrainian brigades execute real-world, multi-echelon exercises. To achieve this end state, we partner with the Ukrainians to finalize a program of instruction with NATO Standards, mentor an instructor cadre element of highly professional officers and non-commissioned officers, and advise the center's leaders and newly assigned personnel best practices for training site development and management," said Ducich.

Another part of the training center development is sharing lessons learned. Soldiers from the Center for Army Lessons Learned and Asymmetric Warfare Group assigned to JMTG-U work daily with Ukrainian veterans to gather and disseminate their lessons and experiences from the confilict in eastern Ukraine. These lessons can then be shared and used by both the U.S. and Ukrainian Army.

"For Ukrainian Army lessons learned, we were sent here to gather their experiences in the ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation]. The idea behind that is to pull those lessons off of them and develop a package to give back to them and to say here's what Ukrainian soldiers are experiencing. As Ukrainians take over the training here they can use those lesson learned to focus and develop training," said Maj. Darren Hasse, a liaison officer assigned to JMTG-U from the Center for Army Lessons Learned.

The lessons learned will also be gathered and shared with leaders of the U.S. Army.

The second rotation of Fearless Guardian II is scheduled to begin Mar. 1. Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, along with military trainers from Canada, Lithuania and the United Kingdom are apart of the JMTG-U effort to contribute to Ukraine's long-term military reform and professionalism and to help improve Ukraine's internal defense capabilities and training capacity.