YAVORIV, Ukraine--A congressional delegation including Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-La., and Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., all of the House Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Steve Palazzo, R-Miss., of the House Committee on Appropriations, visited the combat training center near Yavoriv, Ukraine this week to survey the progress of the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine.
"The level of cooperation is pretty impressive," Rogers said. "I'm struck by how appreciative the Ukrainian leadership is of this support they've been receiving from the United States."
The goal of JMTG-U is to professionalize the Ukrainian army and increase Ukraine's NATO interoperability. Soldiers of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard are accomplishing this by developing the Ukrainian CTC and the CTC instructors.
"We're helping them at the tactical level, but there are other organizations working at the strategic level, reforming their professional military education system and their doctrine," said Col. David Jordan, commander of the 45th IBCT and the JMTG-U mission.
As the JMTG-U mission enters its fourth year, U.S. personnel continue to train Ukrainian forces in defensive tactics, but have also been able to focus efforts towards infrastructure improvement, range management operations, and CTC exercise and staff development.
The delegation toured several facilities on the Ukrainian base, including the recently completed housing complex, Engineer City.
The 45th IBCT engineer, Capt. Montana Dugger, briefed the delegation on the new development, which can lodge approximately 1,000 Ukrainian trainees and also boasts classroom and dining space.
"I'm proud to be part of the mission and to support soldiers training to defend their country," Dugger said. "This is a drastic upgrade from their former living conditions: living in tents, having to use outdoor latrines and walking a half-mile to take a shower."
The congressmen concluded their tour of the Ukrainian training area at the relatively new range control center.
There, U.S., Ukrainian, and Canadian military members discussed with the congressmen the unexploded ordinance clearance project that will take place in the near future.
A contract to clear nearly 18 million square-meters, greatly increasing the usable training area at Yavoriv CTC, was recently awarded.
"I want people to understand how vitally important it is to American interests that we help Ukraine.... every nation on the western border of Ukraine is a NATO ally and it is in all of our best interests that Ukraine be successful in this endeavor," said Rogers. "We, the congress in particular, fully support Ukraine."