Report from the training company of Operation UNIFIER

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Article / August 5, 2016

By: Engineer Troop Commander, Training Company, Joint Task Force – Ukraine (JTF-U)

From January to August  2016, Joint Task Force Ukraine (JTF-U), led by the command team from 3 Battalion Royal 22e Regiment, assisted the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) in developing their techniques, tactics and procedures to increase their ability to survive and their effectiveness on the battlefield. 

Providing instruction to small teams has two primary components: a 55-day training program that aims to supervise and train a company of Ukrainian soldiers, and the development of Ukrainian instructors.

“The greatest challenges the UAF faced were their ability to move effectively over terrain, adequate use of force multipliers and effective integration of combined arms.” explained Major Jean-François Lamarche, commander of the training company. “The Canadians therefore adapted the training to emphasize these points in particular.”

The Ukrainian soldiers and officers received theory courses on the use of maps and compasses, conducted navigation exercises in sections and participated in a navigation competition. At the group level, the soldiers exercised at moving in sections and platoons in various environments and learned to analyze and use the terrain to their advantage during defensive and offensive operations. They also participated in exercises and firing ranges during which they had to coordinate their efforts jointly with specialists such as marksmen, reconnaissance patrollers, mortar detachments and combat engineers. By integrating these abilities into the training, the soldiers and company leadership learned not only to use these resources more effectively, they could observe their abilities and limits. To validate everything, the Ukrainian soldiers participated in a live-fire range, during which they occupied and defended a company-level position.

The training of Ukrainian instructors has evolved since the early days of Operation UNIFIER. In effect, the UAF had a combat training centre (CTC) in Starychi offering limited resources.

Consequently, the JTF-U general staff proposed creating a leadership course (Junior Leadership Academy Training – JLAT) to improve the aptitude and increase the number of Ukrainian instructors. The leadership course quickly became one of the priorities within the JTF-U, and it drew the attention of the allies present in Starychi. This component will allow these instructors to eventually take over from Canadians and lead the 55-day training program.

“The Ukrainian soldiers are extremely proud and professional individuals who have acquired a great deal of combat experience in the conflicts in the east of the country. I was happy to see that our instructors still proved many times that they had the knowledge and experience required to help the UAF to improve and maximize their capacities,” said the Sergeant-Major of the training company, Master Warrant Officer Michel Dubé.

The UAF platoon members improved their abilities at marksmanship, navigation in the field and offensive and defensive operations, while the Ukrainian non-commissioned officers and officers improved their leadership and instruction and planning aptitudes. Furthermore, this was an opportunity to improve ties with the soldiers of other countries, such as the United States, Poland, Lithuania and Denmark.

The members of the JTF-U training company are bringing back new experience and a part of the culture of Eastern Europe, an experience that leaves Canada and its partners stronger and more united. All that is left is for them to prepare the way in order to pass the torch to Canadian soldiers from 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group from Shilo, Canada, in August.

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