YAVORIV, Ukraine -- Military advisors with Task Force Illini, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Illinois Army National Guard, participated in the final Rapid Trident 20 planning conference Aug. 11-14 at Combat Training Center-Yavoriv, Ukraine.
“Rapid Trident is a huge value. It shows a strong, unified front with our partners, allies, NATO, and Europe. It allows us to come together, train together, and work out our doctrines together in an exercise format,” said Capt. Peter Pogwizd, Joint Exercise Life Cycle section leader and resident of Westmont, Illinois.
The Rapid Trident exercise is a multinational event. The Armed Forces of Ukraine, Romania, Lithuania, Poland, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States participated in the planning conference and are expected to participate in the Rapid Trident 20 exercise.
“Hosting Rapid Trident demonstrates the capability and capacity of Ukraine to support multinational training exercises, which is of great importance,” said Col. Glen Petersen, Exercise Control Advisor and resident of Leroy, Illinois. “The overall goal is to establish interoperability between each country.”
“For Rapid Trident there are three different planning conferences, the initial, the mid, and the final planning conference,” said Sgt. 1st Class Amber Augustine, Operations Advisor and resident of Chicago, “As the name suggests, the final conference is meant to finalize the plans for Rapid Trident. So, it is everything from the people who will be attending, the logistics involved, and the scenario that will be run.”
The exercise is scheduled from Sept. 16–26. The advisors said the event typically runs longer than it is scheduled this year, but the schedule was adjusted this year to account for the precautions related to COVID-19.
“Just like everything else in our lives, COVID will affect the way Rapid Trident is implemented. The medical community on the U.S and Ukrainian sides are implementing measures to ensure the safety of everyone before the exercise is even started. Those measures will be carried out throughout the exercise. Wearing masks, sanitizing, and social distancing will be done for everyone’s safety,” Augustine said.
“The COVID has changed everything a little bit all over the world. The main issue I see is that all nations have a different situation with COVID,” said Lithuanian Armed Forces Maj. Justinas Bolys, Mentor of the Vocational Brigade and resident of Kaunas, Lithuania.
“COVID has added on another layer of difficulty for this planning. Having to do things remotely has made it difficult on top of our navigation of language barriers and cultural differences. But I will say that all our multinational partners have been graceful and understanding, and we are all here for the same reason. So, it is nice to come together under these circumstances and still get the mission done,” Augustine said.
“Some events will be on the ground physically conducted by Soldiers, troops, and units. Other parts we will do virtually,” Bolys said.
“These challenges are really an opportunity. An opportunity to coordinate, to identify different agencies from different countries, and build relationships with them,” Petersen said. “Even though it can be difficult to do with multinational partners, the end result is a much greater product than the challenges we overcome.”
Task Force Illini is the command element of Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine, which is responsible for training, advising and mentoring the Ukrainian cadre at CTC-Y in order to improve Armed Forces Ukraine’s training capacity and defense capabilities.