Operation UNIFIER assists the National Guard of Ukraine to define NCO corps

Ukrainians and Canadians look at rows of sticky notes on a conference table
Canadian and Ukrainian subject matter experts deliberate on Qualification Standard refinement during the National Guard of Ukraine Writing Board held this summer in Kyiv.

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By Major Jan Kool, Joint Task Force-Ukraine Liaison Officer to the National Guard of Ukraine

Since the beginning of July 2018, a small team from Operation UNIFIER—Canada’s military contribution to whole of government support in Ukraine—has been working diligently with officers and senior Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO) of the National Guard of Ukraine (NGU) to help them define the future of their NCO corps.

The project sprung from a visit to the guard’s NCO Academy in the small town of Zolochiv, in western Ukraine. There, NCOs, instructors, and specialists are trained and developed. The Operation UNIFIER leadership found that while the quality of instruction and students were excellent, the Academy needed assistance creating the foundational concepts and documents typically found in a NATO-standard school: general specifications, qualification standards, and training plans. Following the visit, Canadian Armed Forces members developed a plan to bring in a Training Development Officer and pair him with an experienced NCO from Joint Task Force-Ukraine to help the NGU create these documents.

The project took place over a six week period from June to August with a group of senior Ukrainian NCOsand officers pairing with Operation UNIFIER staff, as well as representatives from the US Army. They applied the NATO Systems Approach to Training to create two foundational documents for the NGU: a Non-Commissioned Member General Specification, and a Qualification Standard and Training Plan for the Basic Leader Course.

The general specification dictates the selection, desired attributes, and development system for NCOsin the national guard, includes an NCO creed, and specifies the specific performance requirements for NCOsat every rank and development level. The plan lays out the course structure, teaching points, references, standards, assessments, and timetable of the new Basic Leader Course, which focuses on teaching Sergeant-candidates practical leadership skills and abilities, as well as knowledge in basic mission planning.

“What makes this process different from other efforts towards NCO development in Ukraine is that, with the NGU, we were able to start by building the foundation of the NCO Corps, represented by the General Specification. It hasn’t always been possible to really start from scratch elsewhere, and our success is a direct result of the reform-minded and professional nature of the NGU and the positive relationship we have built with them,” explained Major Jan Kool, Operation UNIFIER’s liaison to the NGU.

Chief Warrant Officer James Hebert, Operation UNIFIER’s former Task Force Sergeant Major and Canadian lead on NCO Development in Ukraine, thinks that the work completed so far is exactly what is required. He gives credit to the Operation UNIFIER team, but even more credit to the committed group of Ukrainian officers and NCOs on the writing board. “The NGU has demonstrated pride and passion towards developing a strong NCO Corps that will strengthen them for the future,” he stated. “What they have achieved in a short amount time is nothing less than revolutionary for their organization.”

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  • Ukrainians and Canadians gather around a table and look at note cards
  • Ukrainians and Canadians look at rows of sticky notes on a conference table
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