Operation UNIFIER’s Collective Training Team makes an impact in Ukraine

Canadian and Ukrainian soldiers look at a piece of paper and talk
Ukraine. April 24, 2018 – Two Canadian Armed Forces members deployed on Op UNIFIER explain the safe conduct of live weapon firing range to a member of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. (Photo: Joint Task Force-Ukraine)

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By Captain Dan Brown, Second in Command Collective Training Team, Joint Task Force – Ukraine

A live-fire water crossing. BTR-80 armoured personnel carriers. A four-day battalion-level final exercise.

Ukrainian soldiers completed their most recent training cycle in June under the mentorship of international partners, including Canadian Armed Forces members deployed on Operation UNIFIER. The advanced and complex nature of the training reflects the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s (AFU) willingness and determination to make progress with their partners.

Members of the Collective Training Team (CTT)—part of the sixth rotation of troops to deploy on Operation UNIFIER—have been in Ukraine for almost fourth months. They operate out of the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre (IPSC) in Starychi, Ukraine.

The CTT, by far Operation UNIFIER’s largest and most widely dispersed team, provides individual and collective training to a wide variety of Ukrainian units. While its headquarters is in Starychi, its reach is across Ukraine. Its Dispersed Training Team and Staff Training Team are located across the country. They provide mentorship, security force capacity, and capability building. They also train AFU members in the operational planning process.

At the IPSC, the largest portion of the CTT forms “Charlie Company” in the US Army-led multinational Partner Assistance Training Team Battalion. Alongside US, Polish, and Lithuanian partners, they work closely with the Ukrainian Combat Training Centre instructional staff to ensure that training is delivered effectively.

Throughout this most recent training cycle, Ukrainian Combat Training Centre staff played a major role in providing essential training to the AFU soldiers. The training covered a variety of subjects and training objectives. These ranged from basic soldier skills, such as medical training and weapons proficiency, to platoon and company live fire operations and battalion level confirmation exercises. The Ukrainian staff provided realistic training for the AFU soldiers who will no doubt take these skills and hone them as they progress through their service.

“We have had a busy first half of the rotation, and there is still more work to be done,” noted Captain Dan Brown, Acting Commander of the CTT. “It is a privilege to work with the AFU and our partner nations, and we are excited about the new opportunities ahead to make lasting impacts for this great country.”

In other parts of Ukraine, three separate travelling mentor teams move freely to non-centrally located AFU units. They have been busy providing assistance to the AFU. Their objectives are wide-ranging.

One area of focus is on leadership development for non-commissioned officers across the Land, Air, and Naval forces. Another aspect is sniper training development.

Some of the training is very closely coordinated with international allies. Canadian Armed Forces members are supporting Britain’s Operation ORBITAL to deliver their Urban Defence Course.

On the logistics side of the house, there is a training cell which can be surged to support AFU logistical training courses around the country. Further, there is a mentor team at the Odessa Military Academy. They provide input into the instructional faculties in Logistics, Reconnaissance/Special Operations Forces, Airborne and Rocket Artillery.

In all respects, the Canadian team collects lessons learned from these very new Ukrainian programs. All of these efforts help to improve these programs and assist the AFU in its goal of moving towards NATO compatibility.

Image gallery

  • A group of international soldiers talk
  • Soldiers lie down in the grass and aim their weapons
  • A group of international soldiers watch two soldiers kneeling on the ground
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