By Sgt. Anthony JonesApril 14, 2017
YAVORIV, Ukraine--History is made daily at the Yavoriv Combat Training Center.
The CTC, one of the many units that call the International Peacekeeping and Security Center near Yavoriv, Ukraine home, hosted the army's first ever independently run brigade-level computerized exercise this month.
Dubbed Cossack Hetman, the simulated battle put the Ukrainian 28th Mechanized Infantry Brigade to the test.
Using a system called Joint Combat and Tactical Simulation, or JCATS for short, brigade staff and subordinate battalions fought through a virtual scenario and were made to react in real-time to challenges.
U.S. Army Capt. Kurt Jarvis, an artillery officer from Edmond, Oklahoma who serves as the simulations mentor for the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine, was instrumental in the planning and execution of this first exercise.
"In order to do this there are training aids we can use and one of those is called JCATS," Jarvis explained. "With JCATS we can do constructive training and we can create an environment that simulates a deployed situation."
Computerized exercises are common in the U.S. Army as they enable units to train to standard while saving ammunition and therefore, dollars.
"As a mentor, I'm here to help the simulation staff grow and expand their knowledge," Jarvis said. "[The Ukrainian CTC staff] were in a good spot when we started. They were able to support a battalion, now they are ready to go to the next level."
Ukrainian Lt. Col. Vadym Demydkyn, the chief of the military cooperation cell, operational command south, land forces command, said seeing JCATS in use at the Joint Maneuver Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany is what spurred the Ukrainian army to push ahead of projected timelines to make Cossack Hetman a reality.
"We're a little bit forward of our plan," Demydkyn said. "By the end of 2017, [the CTC] should be able to conduct brigade-level exercises connected with each battalion rotation"
Demydkyn, who helped facilitate the exercise, said his vision is that every training rotation through the Yavoriv CTC concludes with a brigade-level training exercise.
"This event is successful because previously, mobile training teams headed by Canadians, visited our headquarters and taught the military decision making process, so that was the first step and this is the second," Demydkyn said, crediting Ukraine's international partners at the JMTG-U. "Every exercise is a learning process."