LVIV OBLAST, Ukraine -- Earlier this month, approximately 160 American Soldiers with the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team headquarters company deployed to Ukraine as Task Force Juvigny and assumed responsibility of the Joint Multinational Training Group - Ukraine at the Combat Training Center - Yavoriv.
TF Juvigny consists of Soldiers from several units across the Wisconsin Army National Guard; each of the Major Subordinate Commands; Joint Force Headquarters and the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. They were selected for their unique skills and expertise in a variety of disciplines.
"No nation can confront today's challenges alone," said Col. John Oakley, Task Force Juvigny's commander. He added that, "the more capable and interoperable our militaries are, the better positioned we will be as a community to achieve our common goals of security, stability, and peace."
Task Force Juvigny, along with NATO allies: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, Lithuania, and Poland are in Ukraine to aid and support Armed Forces Ukraine's training abilities along with increasing NATO interoperability with Ukraine.
"Our main goal is NATO interoperability," said Sgt. 1st Class Brandon McKaig, a company mentor to mortars and artillery, and explained that one of the "challenges has been with equipment interoperability, but our Ukrainian partners overcome this challenge by being very competent and capable."
"We've also been working a lot with our British counterpart and learning from him," said Sgt. 1st Class Kirsten Schultz, an operations battalion advisor, and stated that "there's more than one way to skin an apple and I'm learning a lot about how to better plan, or plan different, for missions back home in Wisconsin."
"My Ukrainian counterpart has been very knowledgeable and competent," said Cpt. Phil Cluphf, a sustainment and logistics brigade advisor, "and he brings a lot of Ukrainian Army experience in logistics and supply to the training center."
The JMTG-U mission is part of an ongoing effort to contribute to Ukraine's long-term military reform and to help improve Ukraine's internal defense capabilities and training capacity. Task Force Juvigny, along with our NATO allies, works with our Ukrainian partners to advise on the training center, cadre, and institutional level development.
"I have been blown away by how professional they [Armed Forces of Ukraine] have been," said McKaig, and added "I'm enjoying my time here; I think the job I am doing here is important and one of the biggest things is just building confidence and rapport with the Ukrainian units."
"It's going really well here," said Schultz about working with Ukrainian military units, and continued, "every day is a learning experience, and each day I'm learning how to be a better advisor."
"I'm looking for how I can help, and in my experiences thus far the Ukrainians seem grateful for our presence here and welcoming of our suggestions," said Cluphf.
"We look forward to learning new skills and perspectives," said Oakley. "We are ready to share our knowledge and training expertise while growing our strategic partnership."
(Cpl. Jared Saathoff is the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team public affairs specialist and is currently deployed with Task Force Juvigny in Ukraine. Cpl. Saathoff regularly covers and documents Joint Multinational Training Group - Ukraine activities and training. If you want to know more about JMTG-U follow us on social media @JMTGUkraine @32ndIBCT @7thATC)