1st Lt. Johnny Vazquez teaches NATO safety standards to Armed Forces of Ukraine Soldiers during their Observer Controller Trainer academy, Feb. 3 at Combat Training Center-Yavoriv. (U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Shaylin Quaid)
1st Lt. Johnny Vazquez teaches NATO safety standards to Armed Forces of Ukraine Soldiers during their Observer Controller Trainer academy, Feb. 3 at Combat Training Center-Yavoriv. (U.S. Army photo by Cpl. Shaylin Quaid) (Photo Credit: Cpl. Shaylin Quaid) VIEW ORIGINAL

LVIV, Ukraine – Combat advisors with Task Force Illini, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Illinois Army National Guard, oversaw a Tier 1 Observer Controller Trainer (OCT) academy conducted by Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) Soldiers Feb. 1 – 5 at Combat Training Center-Yavoriv.

Ukrainian OCTs help rotational units plan and execute training scenarios then observe and mentor the rotational unit.

Capt. Marks Jekabsons of Chicago said the AFU’s curriculum and presentation style was like the U.S. standard. U.S. advisors observed the academy to see how the AFU conducts the course, and to provide recommendations to the instructors when needed.

“I saw how passionate the Ukrainian Soldiers were about the course. This resulted in engaging conversations between students, and with the instructor,” said Jekabsons. “It is always a pleasure to work with Ukrainians on a personal level since they went through the hardships of living under the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The passion they put into their military is apparent.”

1st Lt. Johnny Vazquez of Rockford, Illinois, presented a block of instruction on NATO safety standards to the AFU Soldiers. His topics included hazard identification, risk mitigation, medical evacuation, convoy safety operations, and fratricide prevention and mitigation.

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 Combat Training Center-Yavoriv, Ukraine in order to improve Armed Forces Ukraine’s training capacity and defense capabilities.