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News | Jan. 4, 2021

Task Force Illini Expands Ukraine Mission to Kyiv

By Cpl. Shaylin Quaid 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team

Since 2015, a new U.S. Army unit has commanded the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine (JMTG-U) mission every nine months and advanced the mission, building on the previous unit’s success. Task Force Illini has created the Training Center Advisory Team (TCAT), an innovation leaders say will facilitate the success of the JMTG-U mission from Kyiv, Ukraine.

“Through our analysis, it is clear we need to branch outward and upward across the Armed Forces Ukraine’s training command structure in order to increase Armed Forces of Ukraine capacity and meet its training and security goals,” said Lt. Col. Jeremy Irvin, Task Force Illini Chief of Staff.

Currently, Task Force Illini members solely assist the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) in achieving North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) interoperability by working on the ground with their company and brigade observer controller trainers at Combat Training Center-Yavoriv, Ukraine (CTC-Y).

“While the advisors of JMTG-U have been working diligently with AFU Soldiers assigned to CTC-Y, and they are making great strides in proficiency, but many of the adjustments to doctrine, training objectives, systems, processes, procedures, tactics, and techniques need to come as orders from echelons above CTC-Y,” said Lt. Col. Darren Horton, Operations Group Officer in Charge and TCAT leader.

The TCAT consists of three officers who will advise several echelons above CTC-Y, as well as other training centers and the AFU Training Command. The TCAT will primarily focus on improving NATO interoperability in six sectors: advising, data collection, the training life cycle and self-sufficiency, movement of troops in and out of the training area and the validation of doctrine development.

“Self-improvement is a never-ending process. JMTG-U staff completed analysis and identified strategic areas where advising at a level such as the AFU Training Command will have the most benefit and influence,” said Horton.

The TCAT is a trial run for the JMTG-U mission and may prove a viable way for future U.S. Army units to help the AFU reach NATO interoperability.

“The progress we make toward achieving mission end-state criteria will be evaluated throughout the remaining months of our rotation. Our progress assessment will be used by the following rotation in order to advance the mission even further,” said Horton.  

Task Force Illini is the command element of Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine, which is responsible for training, advising, and mentoring the Ukrainian cadre at Combat Training Center-Yavoriv, Ukraine to improve Armed Forces Ukraine’s training capacity and defense capabilities.