In Starychi, Ukraine, at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center (IPSC), a multinational effort is underway as American, Canadian, and Lithuanian troops have converged to provide training for our Ukrainian allies. The training focuses on basic soldiering skills and common infantry maneuvers.

This training has thus far been a success. The international effort has efficiently re-cast the die of the Ukrainian military, and is steadily fostering a new and wholly more competent force than the one that encountered Russian-backed belligerents in early 2014.

The United States-led mission is providing Ukraine with advisors who have been recently battle-tested in the theaters of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), and those instructors are consequently providing Ukraine with realistic training based on the hard lessons they’ve learned. This training has armed the Ukrainian soldier with in-ranks competencies for a much more capable and professional force. The overall plan has been designed to empower Ukrainian forces with the skills necessary to defend themselves.

This training is part of a much larger, multinational effort of thus far 18 participating nations: Ukraine, the United States, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey. It is important to recognize that this action has come as a result of multiple requests by the government of Ukraine.

Current training has metamorphosed from its brass-tacks training, which was initially imagined as a ramped-up basic, since Ukraine has proven to have an abundance of combat-experienced troops. They’re experienced, but they still lack true war-fighting skills. The Ukrainian military, though brave in combat, has been lacking the training and know-how of basic soldiering principles as explored in the earlier SOFREP series “Fallout: Ukraine.”

The mission, therefore, has accordingly realigned its organizational structure. The advisors are now providing a mission focus beyond the fundamentals, instead providing Ukrainian soldiers with mission-oriented training that focuses on the threats and hazards specifically encountered in eastern Ukraine.

2015_01190010
International Peacekeeping and Security Center (IPSC).

This training and the ongoing mission is critical to the safety, security, and stability of America and our allies. Russian aggression continues to manifest, first in Georgia, now in the Arctic and Syria. In 2014, the Russian Federation, boldly and wholly unrestrained, annexed Crimea and then followed up with a middle finger to the world by way of a deliberate attempt to destabilize Ukraine—rustling the eastern region of the country. Hostilities in eastern Ukraine, Georgia, and Crimea have proven that Europe is not stable, nor is it secure from Russian aggression and encroachment.

Ukrainian soldiers move to their next training event. Image courtesy of the author.

Russia grows bolder with its deployment of forces and the acquisition of its toehold base in Syria, another area of the world many Americans regard with a “not my problem” mentality. This will, in time, bite every single naysayer in the ass. Despite the post-Cold-War hype, Russia is neither our partner nor our ally, and continues to prove itself on the global stage as an adversary to global stability. The NATO field manuals and operational guidelines will need to be revisited as the hazy delusion of the European Union cracks under its own internal pressures, and the giant in Moscow emerges again to prey on a squabbling fantasy land of bureaucracy in Europe.

Currently, our best hope for maintaining regional security lies in the vested interest of the United States and its partners in Eastern Europe, established after the Cold War. The robust defensive posture of the United States and its regional allies are key to the future of European security, once a requirement of NATO countries. This is a duty and a responsibility being undertaken by burgeoning NATO members such as Lithuania, Romania, and Ukraine.