Ukraine and Operation UNIFIER achieve a key milestone in training

A Canadian and a Ukrainian soldier shake hands
Kamianets-Podilskyi, Ukraine. August 20, 2018 – Lieutenant-Colonel Fraser Auld congratulates Colonel Vodymyr Rodikov, Commander of the AFU’s Demining Centre on a successful course transition, during the IEDD course transition ceremony. (Photo: JTF-U)

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By Captain Karyn Mazurek, Public Affairs Officer, Joint Task Force-Ukraine

On the 20th of August, a ceremony was held in Kamianets-Podilskyi, in south western Ukraine, to mark a milestone in Operation UNIFIER’s mission. The Canadian team transitioned full responsibility for the planning and execution of the Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD) training program to the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU).

This ceremony marks the transition of one of the most specialized aspects of Counter-Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) training. This has been a standing goal for Operation UNIFIER:advisors and mentors have been working towards this day since September 2015 when Canada’s military training mission in Ukraine was established.

For missions like Operation UNIFIER which have a role to train, advise, and assist indigenous forces, a key indicator of progress is when hands-on instruction and day-to-day advice and mentorship are no longer required to plan, run, and evaluate training. The AFU has proven its ability to do this for IEDD training, so Operation UNIFIER is able to formally disengage from this specific effort.

“My team has been working very hard with our Ukrainian counterparts to ensure a smooth transition of this highly specialized training,” noted Major Josh Bye, the Commander of Operation UNIFIER’s C-IED training team. “This is really an accomplishment my staff can share with every rotation that has come before us as we’ve been getting closer to this day for the past three years.”

In the AFU’s new five-level Basic Combat Engineer Sapper model—which Operation UNIFIER’s C-IED team has been helping the AFU to build—the IEDD course is the fifth and most specialized level of training. In this course, soldiers learn how to use specialized equipment, tactics, techniques, and procedures to render safe Improvised Explosive Devices of all types. These skills are critical given the explosive threats that soldiers and civilians face in the conflict occurring in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.

With the transition of IEDD training to full Ukrainian ownership, Operation UNIFIER’s staff in Kamianets-Podilskyi can shift focus to building the remaining four levels of the five-level Basic Combat Engineer Sapper model. The five-level model largely mirrors the CAF’s training in the Combat Engineer field, and Operation UNIFIER’s combat engineers will work side-by-side with Ukrainian colleagues to develop the remaining four levels of Sapper training.

“The transition of the IEDD training program to full ownership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine is the culmination of almost three years of determined effort and teamwork. This is a great day for both the Operation UNIFIER team and our colleagues in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, one that Operation UNIFIER looks forward to repeating for our other training objectives throughout this country,” says Lieutenant-Colonel Fraser Auld, Commander of Joint Task Force-Ukraine. “Developing new approaches and amending military training design and delivery across Ukraine is no easy task. But this ceremony is a clear indication that progress is occurring and the Armed Forces of Ukraine are taking concrete steps towards NATO compatibility.”

Image gallery

  • Two soldiers shake hands and pass a small statue
  • A Canadian soldier stands with his hands behind his back
  • A Canadian and a Ukrainian soldier shake hands
  • Canadian and Ukrainian soldiers stand in rows
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