Ukraine Delegation Visits Washington National Guard Leaders

By Joseph Siemandel, Joint Force Headquarters - Washington National GuardMarch 18, 2024

Brig. Gen. Kenneth Borchers, left, director of the Joint Staff, Washington National Guard, shakes hands with Ruslan Kravchenko, head of the Kyiv Regional State Administration, during a visit to Camp Murray, Wash., March 15, 2024. The visit to Camp Murray focused on sharing stories and building on friendship established during the 81st Stryker Brigade Combat Team’s 2021 deployment to Ukraine supporting the Joint Multinational Training Group - Ukraine mission.  (U.S. National Guard photo by Joseph Siemandel)
Brig. Gen. Kenneth Borchers, left, director of the Joint Staff, Washington National Guard, shakes hands with Ruslan Kravchenko, head of the Kyiv Regional State Administration, during a visit to Camp Murray, Wash., March 15, 2024. The visit to Camp Murray focused on sharing stories and building on friendship established during the 81st Stryker Brigade Combat Team’s 2021 deployment to Ukraine supporting the Joint Multinational Training Group - Ukraine mission. (U.S. National Guard photo by Joseph Siemandel) (Photo Credit: Joseph Siemandel) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP MURRAY, Wash. - A delegation from Ukraine visited Washington National Guard leaders March 15 to thank them for supporting the country.

“We know your unit deployed to Ukraine in 2021 to help our military and we want to take this time to thank them for their support of the people of Ukraine,” said Ruslan Kravchenko, head of the Kyiv Regional State Administration.

Kravchenko, the current regional Ukrainian governor, joined Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to sign a commitment to engage in economic and academic exchanges between Kyiv Oblast and Washington state. The city of Tacoma also committed to a Sister Cities relationship with Brovary, Ukraine.

The visit to Camp Murray focused on sharing stories and building on a friendship established during the 81st Stryker Brigade Combat Team’s deployment to Ukraine from April to December 2021, supporting the Joint Multinational Training Group - Ukraine mission.

More than 100 Guard members from the 81st SBCT headquarters helped with training, equipping, training center development and doctrinal assistance to the Ukrainian armed forces. Joined by NATO allies and partners, Soldiers provided mentoring and advised Armed Forces of Ukraine observer controller trainers at the Combat Training Center near Yavoriv. The model employed a “train-the-trainer” approach, enabling Ukrainians to take the lead in training rotational brigades.

As Washington Guard members returned home in January 2022, Russian forces began to make their way to the Ukraine border, attacking into Ukraine in February 2022.

“We had Guard members working with your Ukrainian armed forces members to help teach them how to use the weapon systems that they are now utilizing and having success with,” said Brig. Gen. Ken Borchers, director of the joint staff, Washington National Guard.

During the visit, a member of the 81st SBCT shared stories with the guests about phone calls they received early in the war to help troubleshoot and set up equipment. After clearing it with the Department of Defense, Guard members help their Ukrainian counterparts with the new equipment via telephone.

“We believe we are successful because we were able to call for your help and for the assistance you have given,” said Kravchenko.

The California National Guard has had a close working relationship with the Ukraine military and the Ukraine National Guard since 1993 as part of the National Guard State Partnership Program. The program was based on an American suggestion to NATO and has many objectives, including helping partner nations become more interoperable with NATO forces, more transparent in military affairs and, perhaps most importantly, more knowledgeable on how a military works in a democracy.

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