LVIV, Ukraine - Task Force Raven, 81st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Washington Army National Guard, assumed command of the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine mission at Collective Training Center – Yavoriv, Ukraine, during a Transfer of Authority ceremony April 16, 2021.
Task Force Raven is the command element of JMTG-U, which is responsible for training, advising and mentoring the Ukrainian cadre at CTC-Y to improve Armed Forces Ukraine’s training capacity and defense capabilities. Soldiers at the JMTG-U work with Armed Forces of Ukraine partners at the CTC-Y to develop and implement systems to improve combat training and increase training center capacity. CTC - Y delivers Brigade-and-below collective training for four Armed Forces of Ukraine Brigades.
Special guests in attendance included the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Mr. Denys Shmyhal, and U.S. Embassy Kyiv Chargé d’Affaires, Kristina Kvien.
“We appreciate the support and assistance of the U.S. and other partner nations in our struggle for independence, sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine,” Shmyhal said. “With great pleasure I call you not just great partners but great friends.”
“Together, this training group is helping to forge a new kind of NATO-compatible professional fighting force in Ukraine,” Kvien said. “Each of the rotations has stayed in Ukraine for about nine months, conducting work that demonstrates in real, tangible terms United States commitment to helping Ukraine fight Russian-backed aggression in the Donbas. And that work is even more critical now.”
Eight rotations of United States Army personnel from the active and reserve components have supported the JMTG-U mission since 2015 as part of a long-running defense cooperation program designed to strengthen relationships and affirm U.S. commitment to the success of a stable and free Ukraine. The advisory mission has progressed from training Ukrainian National Guard battalions to a U.S. advisory role, joined by NATO allies and partners, as Ukraine develops Combat Training Center – Yavoriv to train and certify their brigades for combat.
Ukrainian Lt. Gen. Pavlo Tkachuk, the Chief of the Armed Forces Ukraine National Army Academy, welcomed the incoming Task Force Raven, and he expressed his gratitude for the professionalism of the outgoing Task Force Illini, presenting Ukrainian awards to several of their Soldiers.
“This official moment is happy, and on the other hand it is very sad for me,” Tkachuk said. “It is happy because we let our partners, colleagues and good comrades the chance to reunite with their families and relatives. Also, it is sad for me because they have to leave us.”
Other nations supporting the JMTG-U mission include Canada, Lithuania, Denmark, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
“The training here, without a doubt, improves the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s capability, readiness, and lethality,” said Brig. Gen. Christopher Norrie, commander of 7th Army Training Command. “The AFU are more prepared than ever to defend and protect their national sovereignty and their citizens.”
Since July 2020, Task Force Illini, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Illinois Army National Guard has led the JMTG-U mission.
“I can barely express how incredibly proud I am of what you have accomplished,” said Col. Clayton Kuetemeyer, TF Illini commander. “You built relationships, embraced your roles within an advising task force and created opportunities to contribute to the team and the mission.”
For more than six years, the JMTG-U in Yavoriv has continued the security partnership between Ukraine, the United States, and NATO Allies and partners.
“While we are excited to be returning home to our families, we are sad to say goodbye to our Ukrainian colleagues and friends,” Kuetemeyer said. “We have been inspired by the passion, the resilience, and the resolve of the soldiers and people of Ukraine.”
Task Force Raven spent the last two weeks here training Task Force Raven to take over the mission, and for several months before that virtually.