L'VIV, Ukraine-This week, more than one hundred cadets graduated from the Hetman Petro Sahaidachny National Army Academy, in Lviv, Ukraine, and were commissioned as officers into the Ukrainian army.
The new officers will play a vital role in Ukraine's efforts to rebuild and modernize its military in the face of the current conflict in the east of the country.
Founded in 1899, the Hetman Petro Sahaidachny National Army Academy is one of Ukraine's premier military education facilities. The academy has trained officers for no fewer than four governments as borders have been redrawn around the region. During WWII, more than 11,000 Soviet officers were trained here before Ukrainian independence in 1991.
Col. Charles Booze, the deputy commander of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine, delivered the commencement speech.
"Two days ago, my Soldiers and I had the privilege of marching in Kyiv during the Independence Day parade," Booze said. "Your independence is relatively recent, and so you understand that this independence did not come without cost, it was hard won by the brave men and women of Ukraine."
For Booze, the ceremony was as much a reminder of the beginning of his own career as it was an opportunity to mentor the cadets standing in formation. Booze entered service in the United States Army 31 years ago to the week.
With the weight of over three decades of military experience behind his speech, few people were more qualified to address the cadets.
"The oath you take today should not be taken lightly... you are assuming the responsibility to uphold, maintain and protect this hard won independence for future generations of Ukrainians," Booze said. "The decisions you do or do not make can have an impact on your soldiers and your nation. You now stand apart from your peers as the future leaders of the Ukrainian armed forces. For that, I salute you."
The 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is deployed to Ukraine as part of the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine at the Yavoriv Combat Training Center on the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, in Western Ukraine. The JMTG-U is a coalition of nations dedicated to improving the CTC's training capacity and building professionalism within the Ukrainian army.