Members of the Florida National Guard, which trained Ukrainians in the days before the Russian invasion, are returning to it, directing Ukrainian troops to new hardware sent by the United States to help repel Putin’s attack in the Donbass region.
The American soldiers are not in Ukraine, but in Grafenvoer, Germany and elsewhere in Europe, where they have started training Ukrainians for American artillery.
“We are taking small groups of Ukrainian soldiers who are already working in these areas of their careers, so for howitzers they are already Ukrainian artillerymen,” Brig said. General Joseph Hilbert, who heads the 7th Army Training Command of the European Command.
Members of the National Guard are in their second group of Ukrainian soldiers for training since the beginning of the transfer of weapons, said Hilbert.
“We are taking them on a simplified course here for the new equipment they will receive. The goal of all this is to bring them back as soon as possible so that they can then train others in their army of equipment, “said Hilbert.
A senior defense official said “90 percent” of the 90 155-millimeter howitzers and 90,000 of the 144,000 rounds the United States had promised Ukraine had been delivered.
The Gator Task Force was sent to Lviv last November as part of a regular rotation of National Guard units from across the United States working with the Ukrainians.
“One of the lowest parts of the mission … really was when we had to withdraw them from Ukraine, from the operation in February,” Hilbert said of the 160 Florida National Guard soldiers who left Lviv in the days before the invasion. Russia. “But probably one of the highlights was the absolute excitement when we knew we were going to get them back to work, training Ukrainians to do what the Florida Department of the Army sent them here for.
Lt. Col. Jeremy “Todd” Hopkins, deputy commander of the Florida National Guard’s 53rd Infantry Brigade, said the Gator Task Force saw firsthand Ukraine’s drive to fight.
“A few days ago, during one of the lunch breaks, one of the Ukrainian soldiers received a message from his hometown that his hometown had been shelled. He and his team immediately stopped what they were doing, stopped eating their lunch and returned to training, knowing that this way they would return and support their homeland, “Hopkins said.
Both Ukrainian and American forces are monitoring and adapting to what they have seen from Russia, Hilbert said.
“They learn based on the behavior they see and the behavior they expect to see. And then they make the adaptations they need, “Hilbert said.
American coaches observe in a similar way.
“We are absolutely paying attention to what is happening there, and we are fully incorporating the lessons we have observed and the lessons we have learned in the part of the training we are doing, and that is in full force,” Hilbert said.