YAVORIV, Ukraine-Lt. Gen Ben Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe, officially handed over five Field Litter Ambulances to the Ukrainian armed forces here August 27.
"I am very proud, of course, to see these ambulances behind me, a manifestation of the support of the United States for Ukraine," Hodges said.
The ambulances, part of the train-and-equip program with Ukraine, were presented to Ukraine's Minister of Health, Dr. Ulana Suprun. She expressed her government's appreciation for the support of USAREUR and the U.S. government. She also highlighted the urgent need for equipment like the FLAs.
"The Ukrainian Army receives tremendous help from the American Army. Nowadays we all know that Ukrainians face medical evacuation problems," Suprun said. "The army is short of armored vehicles for fast evacuation of injured soldiers to the hospitals where they can be treated by professional doctors."
Suprun was born to Ukrainian parents in Detroit, Michigan and attended medical school at Michigan State University. Her father served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, which she credits for her understanding of the importance that Soldiers place on having the capacity and capability to save another Soldier's life. She said it was her hope that, working together with their American partners, Ukrainian armed forces will have the same principles and values and will continue to focus on medical training together.
The FLAs were presented at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center where the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine, a combined unit of California National Guard, Soldiers from 3rd Infantry Division and multinational allies, support and train Ukrainian land forces. The medical training conducted here ranges from self-care to combat lifesaver up through combat medic training.
"As a Soldier, we believe the value of medical skill, of medical evacuation and medical training are so important to the success of our Soldiers," Hodges said. "I'm also very proud that we have Soldiers that we are here with-our allies from Canada, Lithuania, Poland and the United Kingdom-to be a part of this effort to help improve the medical training and capability of the Ukrainian armed forces."
The FLAs are constructed from a rigid reinforcing frame covered and connected to an aluminum outer skin. It has the capacity for four litter and six ambulatory patients in a fully insulated compartment with a heating and A/C system. The compartment also holds a hospital grade oxygen system and suction ports for up to six patients.
But Hodges and Suprun both agreed that although the FLAs were important there was more to them than just the equipment that went inside.
"The minister (of health) gave me some good counsel this morning," Hodges said. "That the ambulance is just a vehicle and that what is most important is the qualified, well-trained medic or doctor inside that vehicle. So we remain committed to helping in every way that Ukraine wants with medical training, medical supplies and continuing to improve the capabilities to care for Ukrainian soldiers who are injured or might be wounded."
JMTG-U is part of the train-and-equip program. Their primary focus is on direct training in the near term while helping the Ukrainian armed forces to build a sustainable and enduring combat training center at the IPSC. The train-and-equip program is part of several existing security assistance programs providing support to the government of Ukraine.