Paratroopers from the U.S. Army will begin training active-duty members of the Ukrainian armed forces in November, broadening a program that provided support for the country’s National Guard, Stars and Stripes reported Tuesday. The training program, which will be conducted by troops from the Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, will involve military exercises and instruction for to up to five battalions of Ukraine’s military.
“The training is part of our ongoing efforts to contribute to Ukraine’s long-term military reform and professionalism, and to help improve Ukraine’s internal defense capabilities and training capacity,” Donald Wrenn, a United States Army Europe spokesman, said.
The training, which was originally conceived to be similar to a boot camp, was put in place to assist Ukraine’s underfunded and poorly trained military in its fight against Russian-backed rebels in the Ukraine war. Nearly 8,000 people have died in the conflict since it began in April 2014.
The U.S. Army commenced Operation Fearless Guardian in April, providing training for Ukraine’s newly established National Guard. However, given that many of the soldiers have already obtained front-line experience and do not require a basic introduction to marksmanship and tactical planning, U.S. army instructors are now incorporating lessons on new subjects, such as how to counter drone warfare.
Training for the new military course is still being established for the second phase of Fearless Guardian but will likely resemble training from past classes taught to the National Guard, according to the U.S. Army in Europe. “This training is part of our long-running defense cooperation with Ukraine and is taking place at the invitation of the Ukrainian government,” Wrenn said.
The training will bring the total U.S. assistance to Ukraine up to nearly $250 million since 2014, although the White House so far has declined to offer lethal aid to Kiev. Russia has called U.S. involvement an unnecessary provocation, while also maintaining that it is not supplying pro-Russian rebels with military support.