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New York Army National Guard preps for Ukraine mission

By Lacey Justinger | U.S. Army Europe | November 14, 2017

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - More than 60 National Guard members with New York's 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) took a long layover in Germany - not to enjoy the local Bavarian culture but to integrate and train with 7th Army Training Command (7ATC).

The unit departed here Nov. 10 after final preparation and familiarization with 7ATC to help accomplish its upcoming Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine (JMTG-U) mission.

The Guard members first spent the month of October at Fort Bliss, Texas, for mobilization training. Then, the New Yorkers spent the week embedded with their staff section counterparts in 7ATC's headquarters; augmented 7ATC's Joint Multinational Readiness Center's Observe Coach / Trainers and 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment as opposing forces during exercise Allied Spirit VII and attended training courses with 7ATC's Combined Arms Training Center.

Lt. Col. Robert Stealey, the chief of staff of the 27th IBCT during the JMTG-U mission, explained that the 27th IBCT brought a third of its' force deploying to JMTG-U to Germany first, to integrate and build personal relationships with the Soldiers' counterparts at 7ATC before forward movement into Ukraine.

The Soldiers arrived at Yavoriv Combat Training Center (CTC) in Ukraine, Nov. 11, to join up with the rest of the unit that was already in place at JMTG-U, conducting a right-seat, left-seat training with the Oklahoma Army National Guard's 45th IBCT which is wrapping up its deployment at JMTG-U.

The New York-based 27th IBCT will spend about nine months in Ukraine, helping the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense further develop its CTC and advise on its training program being conducted there. Oklahoma's 45th IBCT has been at the Yavoriv CTC since January 2016, conducting the same mission.

"Our Soldiers will learn that the U.S. Army does things one way and other nations' armies do the exact same things - a little different," said Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Ciampolillo, senior enlisted advisor for 27th IBCT during the JMTG-U mission. "They're going to learn that being a Soldier is being a Soldier, no matter where you are in the world. We will learn how the Ukrainians have done things and hopefully, they're going to learn from us how to do things."

The New York Guard Soldiers will officially take over the JMTG-U mission from the Oklahoma unit on Nov. 22.

"We're all extremely well-trained - both in the military and the civilian side - and we're going to bring that skill set to JMTG-U and help the Ukrainians become better and more interoperable with the NATO forces," Ciampolillo said.