Pentagon prepares to start training Ukraine National Guard in April
The US Department of Defense (DoD) is currently moving ahead with a long-planned mission to start training the Ukrainian National Guard personnel in late-April.
Pentagon spokesman army colonel Steve Warren said: "We plan on sending about 290 US service members, specifically paratroopers from the army's mighty 173rd 'Sky Soldiers' Airborne Brigade based in Vicenza, Italy."
The service members are expected to be deployed to Ukraine to train six Ukraine National Guard companies with a focus on internal security and territorial defence.
Warren added that under the global security contingency fund, the Pentagon will use its authorities as part of a joint DoD, State Department initiative, to strengthen Ukraine's internal defence capabilities.
Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said the training will be conducted at the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre in Yavoriv, western Ukraine, to build Ukraine's capacity and capabilities and also help increase the professionalism of its forces.
Lainez said: "It is similar to previous long-standing exercises we have conducted in Ukraine since 1995.
"In particular, the training will help the Ukraine Government develop its National Guard to conduct internal defence operations."
In particular, the training programme involves equipping Ukrainian security forces with non-lethal equipment such as basic field uniforms and equipment, body armour, night-vision devices and tactical radios at an estimated cost of $19m.
The training mission was originally scheduled to commence this month, but was deferred and given high-level scrutiny amid concerns that it could spark tensions with Russia, as reported by Military Times.
Warren said: "It was undergoing some reviews, so it got off to a late start."
Comprising soldiers and activists from Maidan self-defence squads, Ukrainian National Guard personnel have been participating in an offensive against the pro-Russian rebels in eastern parts of the country since April 2014, as reported earlier by Sputnik.
Image: US paratroopers from the army's 173rd 'Sky Soldiers' Airborne Brigade will train six Ukraine National Guard companies beginning next month. Photo: courtesy of US Army.