Soldiers with the U.S. Army's 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team have taken yet another step toward accomplishing the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine mission-the first entirely Ukrainian-led, -planned and -coordinated combat first aid course is currently being conducted at the Yavoriv Combat Training Center on the International Peacekeeping and Security Center near Yavoriv, Ukraine.
Over the past seven months, the 45th IBCT and allied forces have trained and mentored Ukrainian Observer Coach Trainers through the CFA course, helping them to train more than 600 Ukrainian soldiers.
Ukrainian OC/Ts at Yavoriv CTC have worked diligently with their foreign partners within the JMTG-U for the last two years to incorporate their battlefield medical knowledge and techniques into a training plan that works well for the Ukrainian army.
"Their qualification standards come from a hodgepodge of American, British and Canadian standards," said Canadian Armed Forces Warrant Officer Tim Stackhouse, a medic with 1 Field Ambulance, based out of Edmonton Alberta, Canada deployed to Ukraine with Operation Unifier. "They take the best of what they view; it's not our combat first aid, it's not American combat life saver training, it's Ukrainian combat first aid."
Currently, Ukraine's 1st Battalion, 95th Separate Airmobile Brigade is participating in the Yavoriv CTC's 55-day training program with close to 400 soldiers. Upon their graduation, more than 1,000 soldiers will have been CFA certified.
Since the 45th IBCT assumed command of the JMTG-U mission in January, three separate Ukrainian battalions, including the 95th, have cycled through training at the Yavoriv CTC.
"This is the first rotation that [the Ukrainians] are leading," said Sgt. Chad Kopensky, a medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Bn., 279th Inf. Regt. "They are taking the lead on all the instruction and hands-on training. We're just making sure all the bullet points are being hit, so far they are doing excellent."
Even though the Ukrainian units rotating through the Yavoriv CTC are learning new techniques and updating their medical knowledge, they are also exposing U.S. personnel new methods such as splinting using improvised and scavenged materials as bracings, a practice which isn't taught in standard U.S. military training.
"It's great for our guys to work with different nations-Lithuanians, Canadians and the Ukrainians," said Kopensky. "Even better, to see how other countries [conduct medical training]. As much as they're learning from us, we are also learning from them."