Little Creek, Virginia –
This morning, via videoconference, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke to a small number of Ukrainian forces who are returning to Ukraine from the United States.
The forces were in the United States as part of the Defense Department's long history of hosting Ukrainian service members for training and education.
The Ukrainian soldiers were participating in a pre-scheduled professional military education program at the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School in Biloxi, Mississippi, when Russia's invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24, according to Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby.
That school is a security cooperation school, operating under the U.S. Special Operations Command in support of foreign security assistance and geographic combatant commanders' theater security cooperation priorities.
The Ukrainian forces received training on patrol craft operations, communications and maintenance, Kirby said.
Since the conclusion of the course in early March, the DOD provided the group additional advanced tactical training on the systems the United States has provided to Ukraine, including on the Switchblade unmanned aerial vehicle, Kirby said.
Today was the group's last day in the United States. They spoke to Austin from the Navy's base at Little Creek, Virginia, where they completed additional advanced tactical training.
The secretary thanked the troops for their service and for their courage, noting the skill with which the Ukrainian armed forces are fighting to defend their nation from Russia's unprovoked invasion, Kirby said.
The secretary pledged to them continued U.S support for Ukraine, providing and coordinating additional security assistance, Kirby added.