YAVORIV, Ukraine – North Atlantic Treaty Organization partners and allies train together during multiple demonstrations for distinguished visitors on Sept. 20, 2019, in Yavoriv, Ukraine. Soldiers from the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s 10th Mountain Assault Brigade and the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division demonstrated the lethal abilities of coalition forces during a wet gap crossing and fire team movement room clearing demonstration for distinguished guests as part of Rapid Trident 2019.
The wet gap crossing demonstrated the coalition forces ability to move swiftly across a body of water utilizing the Ukraine Army’s amphibious vehicle capabilities and simultaneously attacking enemy forces, as they fired live artillery hitting targets in the area of the simulated enemy forces.
Ukraine was invaded in 2014 by separatist forces backed by Russia. The war continues to drag on to this day.
“The Ukrainian Army has amphibious vehicles embedded at the company level,” said Lt. Col. Michael Starz, the battalion commander of 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. “This capability allows them to quickly move across waterways at an impressive speed.”
The annual multinational exercise supports and enhances joint and combined interoperability among allied and partnered nations, and the unit cohesion was on full display as U.S. assets provided small arms fire, as a firing squad trailed a Ukraine engineer vehicle in a high mobility multi-wheeled vehicle, affixed with an M2 .50 caliber machine gun. The successful demonstration solidified the need for NATO partners and allies to continue conducting multinational training exercises, such as RT19.
“The demonstrations today validated NATO interoperability,” said Starz, who is also the senior mentor and chief of operational group for Combat Training Center-Yavoriv. “U.S. and Ukrainian forces executed a combined arms attack on a breech site, while doing a water crossing. It required a lot of planning and rehearsals to understand how we each operate to make sure we synchronized our fires and maneuvers.”
As impressive as the joint efforts were during the wet gap crossing, the true demonstration of how successful RT19 has been in improving the defense capabilities of Ukraine and strengthening the security of Europe as a whole was displayed during the fire team movement and room clearing demonstration.
“The number one priority for us is partnering with the Ukrainians,” said 1st Lt. Spencer Clark, executive officer for Dagger Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). “We ran a MOUT (military operations on urban terrain) demonstration a couple weeks ago, and everything you saw out here today is a reflection of that training.”
Training together in exercises like RT19 allows allied and partner nations to work together as a team, strengthening personal and professional relationships as well as combined efforts to build collective capabilities, readiness, and interoperability.
As the thunder from large rounds and smoke filled the air as Ukrainian Soldiers reacted to a Hostage situation, loud pops could be heard with the smell of carbon carrying across the training area and simulated terrorists opened fire on the Ukrainian forces as they negotiated the mock city filled with various training objectives.
“Showing the controls we use and also emphasizing the role of the team leader in these operations,” said Clark. “We want to demonstrate how we utilize our [non-commissioned officers] and how capable they are at accomplishing a mission.”
The exercise RT19 will continue until September 28, 2019, and includes a variety of multinational command post exercises and field training exercises, to include live fire ranges, a wet gap crossing, special operations field training and numerous other events with the culminating event demonstrating the ability to move large multinational forces across uneven terrain to effectively utilize Ukraine’s defenses and protect the border against possible attacks from all potential adversaries.