Friday, April 24, 2015

U.S. Army Starts to Train Ukraine Units

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, third from left, 
speaks with U.S. and Ukrainian soldiers during a lunch 
Monday after the opening ceremony of joint military 
exercises at Ukraine’s Yavoriv training ground. 
Photo: mykola lazarenko/Getty Images
Ukraine president hails trainers’ arrival as sign of Western commitment
U.S. troops kicked off a training program for their Ukrainian counterparts at a military base in western Ukraine Monday, far from the continuing fighting near Russia’s border.
Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko praised the troops’ arrival as a sign the West is ready to help Ukraine defend its sovereignty. But the training program comes as NATO members are cautiously limiting their aid to Kiev to avoid provoking Russia.
Speaking before hundreds of U.S. and Ukrainian troops, Mr. Poroshenko hailed the training program as a “new stage of cooperation” between Kiev and Washington, and noted that Ukraine is also getting training from the U.K., which sent advisers last month, and from Canada and Poland, which both promised advisers later this year.
“We are not alone in this fight,” said Mr. Poroshenko, who spoke to the crowd on a parade ground during a cold downpour.
Mr. Poroshenko has pleaded for tougher measures from the West to halt a Russia-backed insurrection in eastern Ukraine, including lethal aid and high-tech weaponry that his military lacks. The West has so far balked at the request out of fear of provoking Moscow—and doubts about whether Ukraine’s army has the training to handle sophisticated weaponry. 
The training program begun Monday aims to address the training worries, as 300 soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade based in Vicenza, Italy, will be helping several Ukrainian battalions hone infantry skills, from dealing with surveillance drones to defusing hidden bombs. The training also aims to bridge a gulf between military traditions of the U.S. and Ukraine, which despite its westward-leaning aspirations has an army with deep Soviet roots.
While Soviet military training has tended to stress a top-down command structure, the U.S. believes its army’s success rests on devolving decision-making on missions further down the ranks.
“We don’t expect to be talking a lot about leadership development,” said Capt. Matthew Carpenter, who arrived in Ukraine last week. “We’re talking more about how development needs to go down to the individual level.”
Read the rest of the story HERE.

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