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New York Army National Guard to begin training Ukraine’s soldiers in November

Soldiers from the New York Army National Guard will take over the U.S. training mission in support of Ukraine in November, the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine spokesperson Captain Kayla Christopher told The Defense Post.

The 220 soldiers will replace the Oklahoma Army National Guard team that has been assisting the ongoing effort to strengthen Ukraine’s defenses since January.

“The New York Army National Guard will be assuming the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine mission from the Oklahoma Army National Guard in November,” Christopher said. “The JMTG-U’s mission is the build the professionalism of the Ukrainian Army and move them toward their goal of NATO interoperability by 2020.”

The soldiers departed from New York on October 2 for a nine-month mission. They first arrived at Fort Bliss, Texas for inprocessing and some initial training, and were then scheduled to fly to Germany for a month of additional training at the 7th Army Training Command’s Grafenwoehr Training Area.

The group will be working with the Ukrainians at the Combat Training Center, which is part of the International Peacekeeping and Security Center near Yavoriv, Ukraine. Christopher said the Center was modeled after similar NATO standard counterterrorism centers such as the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Germany.

According to the U.S. Army, training for the Ukrainians will focus on defense and security missions.

Five battalions of Ukrainian troops, some 600 soldiers each, undergo training in Yavoriv each year. The fourth battalion began its 55-day training rotation earlier this month.

Enhancing cooperation in 2018

On October 24, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Viktor Muzhenko held a meeting with Chief of National Guard Bureau General Joseph Lengyel at the Pentagon.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said the two parties discussed ways to enhance bilateral cooperation.

“California National Guard has been actively assisting the Ukrainian army and Ohio and New York Army National Guards also expressed their desire to participate in joint training,” a release from the Ukrainian MoD said after the talks concluded.

Following the meeting, Muzhenko arrived in Sacramento to meet David Baldwin, Adjutant General of the California National Guard at California National Guard Headquarters.

“The parties agreed on development of bilateral cooperation program,” the Ukrainian MoD said.

California has been Ukraine’s partner under the State Partnership Program since 1993. Christopher said it is continually involved in building NATO interoperability in Ukraine through a variety of different efforts.

In September, soldiers with the California Army National Guard deployed to Yavoriv to support the Ukrainians during a multinational training exercise dubbed Rapid Trident.

National Guard spokesman Kurt Rauschenberg told The Defense Post that through the State Partnership Program, the National Guard supports the security cooperation objectives of the geographic Combatant Commanders.

“The Guard stands ready to support the priorities of the U.S. European Command,” he said. “In 2018, we will seek innovative ways to leverage the unique skills of the Guard’s Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen as well as the strong relationships that Guard members have built over the years to meet emerging security challenges.”

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