YAVORIV, Ukraine - Approximately 250 soldiers from the Oklahoma Army National Guard's 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team arrived in Ukraine this week to begin their deployment in support of Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine.
The JMTG-U mission, which falls under 7th Army Training Command and U.S. Army Europe, will pair Thunderbirds from 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment with Ukrainian Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 28th Mechanized Brigade and 1st Battalion, 79th Airborne Brigade.
During their time in Ukraine, the 1-179th soldiers will mentor and train the two Ukrainian battalions. The 45th IBCT will also focus on taking the next steps towards advancing the goals of the Ukrainian's combat training center which is being established at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center near Yavoriv, Ukraine.
Lt. Col. Colby Wyatt, commander of the 1st Bat., 179th Inf. Regt., said his Thunderbirds are uniquely qualified for the mission.
"In my time with this battalion, we've been evaluated twice at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana," Wyatt said. "We've also done a third rotation in the box augmenting the opposing force, which should put us in a good position to help the Ukrainians develop their OPFOR."
Wyatt also has experience serving as an observer controller trainer at JRTC.
"The Ukrainians have a capable army," said Wyatt, adding that his Soldiers aren't at JMTG-U to tell the Ukrainian army what to do, but rather they are there to add another tool to their partner's tool belt.
"Ultimately, they should modify the training to work for them," Wyatt said. "We want to enable the Ukrainians to train themselves, we want to work ourselves out of a job."
The 1-179th soldiers will spend the next few weeks preparing themselves to execute the first training rotation with Ukraine's 1st Battalion, 28th Mechanized Brigade. Wyatt's soldiers will serve in Ukraine for the next six months.