jueves, 14 de mayo de 2015

More than a decade of combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan has helped U.S. soldiers earn the respect of their Ukrainian counterparts

In New Role, US Army Prepares Ukrainians for Different Type of War

by Nolan Peterson

The sounds of gunfire and explosions are constant on the firing range at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center outside this western Ukrainian town. At one spot, behind an earthen bunker, U.S. Army paratroopers are qualifying Ukrainian National Guard soldiers in Soviet-era shoulder-fired rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). Further down the line, Ukrainian soldiers shoot at targets using different types of Kalashnikov assault rifles and RPK and PKM machine guns.

Together, the sounds of these Soviet weapons form a booming background din with which some of the U.S. soldiers here are all too familiar.

After a Ukrainian soldier fired an RPG, one U.S. paratrooper turned to another and dryly remarked: “I’ve heard a lot of those things fired in the other direction.”

“Yeah, no kidding,” the other soldier responded. “For a second there it felt like ‘go time.’”

On April 20, about 300 U.S. Army paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade based in Vicenza, Italy, began training the Ukrainian National Guard as part of a six-month exercise called Fearless Guardian. Like their position relative to the sounds of the Soviet weapons (which the Taliban and al-Qaida often use) on the Yavoriv range, Fearless Guardian marks a reversal for many of the U.S. soldiers here.

For one, unlike U.S. missions to train Afghan and Iraqi soldiers, the U.S. Army paratroopers will not be fighting alongside Ukrainians, leaving the U.S. soldiers in the unfamiliar position of training for a fight in which they don’t expect to have a direct role.

“It’s hard not to get emotionally involved,” Capt. Nick Salimbene, 31, said. “The reality is that in a few months we’re going to be back in Italy, and these guys are going to be in the ATO staring down separatist tanks.”

Fearless Guardian also reflects an evolution of the U.S. military’s role in Europe as it reverts to a Cold War-era mindset.


No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario