US paratroopers start training of Ukrainian National Guard
Paratroopers from the US Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade have started the Ukrainian-US command post exercise, Fearless Guardian 2015, at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center in Lviv region, Ukraine.
The six-month programme will see approximately 300 US paratroopers train 900 Ukrainian national guardsmen during three training rotations, as part of a long-term strategy to improve Ukraine's defence potential and increase professionalism of the country's armed forces.
Defensive and civil military operations will include, instruction on how to shoot, how to move, how to communicate and other individual soldier skills.
The programme will also include medical training, casualty evacuation, counter-unmanned-aerial-vehicle tactics, counter-insurgency training, as well as counter-improvised-explosive-device training.
In addition, human rights and use-of-force training will be conducted, alongside common soldier and collective tasks such as individual conduct and law of war, first aid, survival, land navigation, communication, unit operations, and counter-chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear training.
Pentagon spokesman, army colonel Steve Warren said: "This latest training, which is as valuable in peacetime as it is in times of conflict, is to establish a professional force that protects and defends Ukraine's people and the country's sovereignty."
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said: "The training is being held under unique circumstances.
"The foreign state has unleashed a full-scale aggression and a multi-level hybrid war against Ukraine on the eastern border of our country."
Meanwhile, Russia has condemned the exercises and branded them as threat to the peace process endorsed by France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine in Minsk in February of this year, as reported by the Guardian.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "The participation of instructors and specialists from third countries on Ukrainian territory, where the internal conflict remains unregulated, where problems with realising the points of the Minsk agreements persist, definitely doesn't help resolve the conflict.
"On the contrary, it can destabilise the situation."
The US will work closely with Ukraine to provide assistance, training and advising support, and will supply 300 Humvees to Kiev in the coming months to help supplement 30 vehicles, which were delivered in March.
Image: US paratroopers arrive at Lviv International Airport in Ukraine, in support of Exercise Fearless Guardian. Photo: courtesy of Sgt. A.M. LaVey.