YAVORIV, Ukraine--Maj. Gen. John Gronski, the Deputy Commanding General for Army National Guard, U.S. Army Europe, stopped by Ukraine this weekend to evaluate the progress of Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine and to assess the welfare of the Oklahoma Army National Guard Soldiers conducting the mission there.

The 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard arrived in Ukraine this January. Their command marks the first time that a National Guard unit has assumed the JMTG-U mission in its entirety.

"It's an ideal National Guard mission," Gronski said. "It not only helps the Ukrainians defend their country, but it also helps us strengthen our own national security."

Fighting broke out in Eastern Ukraine in February 2014. Since that time, the U.S. has committed more than $266 million in equipment and training to help Ukraine better monitor and secure its border, operate more safely and effectively, and preserve and enforce its territorial integrity.

"We know that if we go to war we'll be fighting as a coalition or alliance, but we'll also be fighting as a multicomponent Army," Gronski said. "Ensuring Guard units, like the 45th, get these opportunities to mobilize and work with our multinational allies and partners only helps to further build our readiness."

As part of JMTG-U, Soldiers from the 45th IBCT are serving as observer controller trainers to Ukrainian combat training center instructors at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center near Yavoriv, Ukraine.

But, while the U.S. Soldiers are there to monitor training, they are learning much from their Ukrainian partners about how the separatists in Eastern Ukraine are operating.

The U.S. Soldiers are also forging relationships with partners and allies from Poland, Lithuania, the U.K., Canada, and Denmark.

"I'm proud of the soldiers from the 45th, and I've seen a lot of professionalism and also great attitudes and dedication from both the U.S. and Ukrainian soldiers," Gronski said. "The work we're doing here is paying off."