By Maggie Ybarra - The Washington Times - Saturday, September 27, 2014
Soldiers of Ukrainian army ride on a tank in the port city of Mariupol, southeastern Ukraine, Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. The Ukrainian president declared a cease-fire Friday to end nearly five months of fighting in the nation's east after his representatives reached a deal with the Russian-backed rebels at peace talks in Minsk. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
The Pentagon has dispatched eight military personnel to Kiev this week to provide tips to Ukrainian security forces on counterinsurgency and military planning tactics.
Military staff will share with the Ukrainians some of the Pentagon’s planning tactics, techniques and procedures while collecting data on the needs of its security forces, according to Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez. Staff arrived in Kiev, the country’s capital, on Thursday and Friday and are beginning to assess the operations of the Ukraine Ministry of Defense, Ms. Lainez told The Washington Times.
The eight military personnel have been split up into two teams, according to Ms. Lainez. One team has been told to assess the security needs of the Ukrainian government and look for ways that the U.S. can supply military equipment to the country, Ms. Lainez said.
“With support from Ukraine and the State Department, the security assessment team will also explore the potential of expanding our current Office of Defense Cooperation in Keiv, to enhance Ukraine’s military capabilities and interoperability,” she said.
President Obama said on Sept. 18 that he planned to have the U.S. military experts would work with Ukraine “to improve its capacity to provide for its own defense and set the stage for longer-term defense cooperation.” That was the same day that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told lawmakers during a joint meeting of Congress that his country was in desperate need of a high-level, non-NATO member security status and lethal weaponry.
“Please understand me, blankets and night vision goggles are also important, but one cannot win the war with blankets,” he told lawmakers.
As for the second team, it has been instructed to examine the country’s medical needs, Ms. Lainez said.
The medical team will look at how the United States can help Ukraine provide near-term medical support to its security forces, she said. In addition, the team will look at long-term capacity building for a wounded-warrior care program, Ms. Lainez said.
Ukraine had previously requested medical assistance from the United States, she said.
Together, the teams “will make recommendations to the Joint Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense for follow-on security assistance, which may be required or requested by Ukraine,” she said.
The two military groups are functioning in a different capacity than the long-term defense institution building team that has been visiting Ukraine over the past several months, she said.
The Times reported in July that Pentagon officials were heading to Ukraine to help the country rebuild its military and make recommendations for greater military assistance.