German Brig. Gen.: Ukrainians have experience, that we, the trainers, do not have

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A multinational assembly including German Brig. Gen. Kai Rohrschneider, the U.S. Army Europe chief of staff, and Polish Maj. Gen. Jan Sliwka, deputy commander of Polish forces, visited the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine staff this week to assess the progress the mission is making towards developing a combat training center (CTC) near Yavoriv, Ukraine.

Currently, the Ukrainian CTC staff are responsible for individual- through platoon-level training, while allied forces are still taking the lead on company-level and higher echelon training, explained Col. David Jordan, commander of the JMTG-U and of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Oklahoma Army National Guard.

In the future, individual training should be conducted before units arrive at the Yavoriv Combat Training Center. Once units arrive at the CTC, Ukrainian CTC staff will be responsible for all collective training through the brigade-level, he said.

The responsibility of mentoring and enabling the Ukrainian army to accomplish this lies with the members of the Canadian, Danish, Lithuanian, Polish, U.K. and U.S. militaries who comprise the JMTG-U.

Sliwka stressed the importance of the JMTG-U mission and of the Polish contribution.
“It’s important to me to see [the Ukrainians] have the capability and capacity to train up to the brigade level,” Sliwka said. “We’re neighbors, so we want to support Ukraine; supporting them equates to supporting the freedom of Europe.”

In April, the Ukrainian CTC staff will be put to the test. A computer simulated battle will evaluate, for the first time, the Ukrainian CTC staff’s ability to plan and execute a brigade-level command post exercise.

Rohrschneider expressed that a main concern of his is ensuring that lessons learned from the fighting in Eastern Ukraine are integrated into the defensive training at Yavoriv CTC.

“The Ukrainians have experience, that we, the trainers, do not have,” Rohrschneider said. “Higher echelons of command have to understand and incorporate lessons learned into these exercises.”

A challenge in building exercises, he said, is that on the one hand, the exercise must teach the fundamentals, but on the other hand, the developers must quickly adapt the training to match conflict realities, to make sure the Ukrainian soldiers are ready for real deployments.

“U.S. Army Europe has a broad spectrum of training areas and activities,” Rohrschneider said, “but [JMTG-U] is, in my opinion, one of the most important because of the immediate effect it has on Ukraine and on our partners.”

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