YAVORIV, Ukraine-Soldiers with the U.S. Army's 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team are in Ukraine, deployed in support of the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine, an international coalition dedicated to working together to aid the Ukrainian army in their development of the Yavoriv Combat Training Center, Ukraine's first CTC.

Critical to the long-term success of the CTC is the establishment of an all-Ukrainian and self-sustaining observer, controller, trainer cadre.

"OCTs mentor the rotational training unit," said Staff Sgt. Kevin Lawson, an OCT mentor with 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th IBCT. "Their biggest push is the after action review to try and get the units to identify their problems through a process of questioning and self-discovery, and then mentor and coach them from there."

When the JMTG-U mission first began in 2015, U.S. forces served as OCTs. However, over the last six months, members of the 45th IBCT have mentored the Ukrainian military on developing, managing, and sustaining a well-trained and enduring staff of Ukrainian OCTs.

Today, the OCT Academy graduated its third class of students. This class brings the total number of OCT cadre at the Yavoriv CTC up to more than 100 Ukrainian soldiers. This class also has the distinction of being the first entirely Ukrainian-led course.

The academy consists of two weeks of intensive training.

The most important thing communicated at the academy is the ability to teach through a process of guided self-discovery using AARs. AARs, although familiar to U.S. service members, are a relatively unique concept to many veteran Ukrainian soldiers who were trained under outdated Soviet-era doctrine.

"You can't take the easy road; would it be easier to step in and do the AAR myself? Sure, it would, but I've got to step back to mentor and develop [the Ukrainian OCTs]," said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Watson, another OCT mentor with 1st Bn., 179th Infantry Regt. "You have to keep that in the forefront of your mind. Everything we've done here has been geared towards working ourselves out of a job."