YAVORIV, Ukraine - Multinational Soldiers from 14 countries spent two weeks working side by side during Rapid Trident 2018.
The main bodies of U.S. forces included approximately 100 service members from the California Army National Guard as well as almost 200 Soldiers from the Tennessee Army National Guard's 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, who are serving on the ground at Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine for nine months.
"There are a tremendous amount of benefits for National Guard units to come over to Europe,"said Maj. Gen. John Gronski, U.S. Army Europe's deputy commanding general for National Guard, during his visit to Rapid Trident. "First of all, it's important to develop those strong relationships with our Allies and partners over here. The second thing is when National Guard units come over to Europe and participate in the exercises, they build a tremendous amount of readiness here and it gives them an opportunity like no other training area does to train alongside Allies and partners.”
The connections between U.S. National Guard and Ukraine continue to grow annually as JMTG-U has been manned by several states during the past few years, including California, Oklahoma, New York and Tennessee. Additionally, California Army National Guard has also been connected to Ukraine since 1993 as part of the National Guard State Partnership Program.
Ukraine hosted troops from Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S. at the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre, here, Sept. 3-15, for the annual exercise that can trace its roots back more than 20 years.
"Strong relationships were formed and affirmed during Rapid Trident 18, and strong relationships here mean a stronger Europe going into the future,"said U.S. Col. Timothy Cleveland, co-director of Rapid Trident and deputy commander of Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine, during the closing ceremony, Sept. 14, adding that the exercise required great cooperation and coordination among the participants.
During the closing ceremony, Ukraine's Lt. Gen. Anatolii Petrenko, deputy Minister of Defence of Ukraine for European Integration, also thanked the multinational crowd for its participation in the further development of peace and stability in the region.
Rapid Trident builds military interoperability through establishing professional relationships and sharing shoulder-to-shoulder experiences, while also supporting Ukrainian Land Forces' sustainable training capacity and defense reform.
"The joint effort of the Ukrainian personnel, together with their partners, are capable of the performance of any tasks for the sake of peace and stability,"said Ukrainian Maj. Gen. Eduard Moskalov, exercise co-director and commander of Operational Command East. "I am absolutely confident that we shall be further developing our cooperation in support of the peace and stability of our countries.”
Building strong relationships
While the training audiences were strictly Ukrainian, NATO allies and Partnership for Peace nations helped to enable the event, serving in a variety of staff and support roles, from civil affairs to opposing forces. The mix of uniforms could be seen throughout the installation during all phases of the exercise.
"Your combined efforts to make this year's exercise successful were tremendous - everyone should be proud of their contributions,"Cleveland said.
The first week included a brigade-level computer-assisted command post exercise for Ukraine's 54th Infantry Brigade headquarters, among others. Ukrainian troops also moved through the situational training lanes, where Ukrainian, Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian and the American trainers, observers and mentors facilitated the platoon-level tasks that included defensive operations and tasks like border control and security, cordon and search, medical evacuations and combat lifesaving skills, convoys and react to contact, and counter-improvised explosive device.
The second and final week brought all the training objectives together into a live-play field training exercise for the Ukrainian training battalions.
"I would like to congratulate the Ukrainian Armed Forces for bringing such a robust training package of units to Rapid Trident this year: Ukrainian Special Forces, Conventional Forces, National Guard, and Border Guard all worked together to successfully demonstrate the full capabilities of the military,"Cleveland said.