STUTTGART, GERMANY (SOCEUR) -The first class of military recruits graduated from the new Ukrainian Special Operations Forces (SOF) Qualification Course May 14, in Khmelnitsky, Ukraine.
Only 29 candidates of the more than 100 applicants who began the rigorous six month assessment, selection and qualification course graduated.
“Without the active support and direct participation in this project from
our foreign friends, we would not have achieved these results,” said General of the Army of Ukraine, Viktor Muzhenko, Chief of the General Staff and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
US Army Special Forces and NATO SOF instructors primarily noncommissioned officers designed and instructed the course which ended with a final cumulative exercise requiring personnel to combine all the elements learned to date.
“This is a tremendous step forward in Ukrainian Special Operations
development, these graduates will form the nucleus of a training cadre that will continue to develop and train special operators,” said Lt. Col. Joshua Kennedy, commander of 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group. “We are pleased to have played a small part alongside our NATO Allies and we look forward to further iterations of the incredibly challenging Qualification Course as well as more advanced instructor training in the future.”
The graduates will all eventually become cadre – shadowing NATO SOF
instructors first, then acting as assistant instructors, before they assume roles as the primary instructors for following courses. They will be a part of the 142nd Training Center for the Ukrainian military, becoming the first step in building Ukraine’s long-term military reform and professionalism, and to help improve Ukraine’s internal defense capabilities and training capacity. The nucleus of the future cadre is predominantly 21 noncommissioned officers.
“They have each conveyed that this was the best training any of them have ever received,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Boettcher, senior enlisted advisor of 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group. “Not only did they receive world-class SOF training, they were left with indelible impressions on how an empowered and professional NCO Corps can plan, lead, and execute Special Operations missions.”
The course started with advanced individual techniques such as advanced land navigation and advanced marksmanship, while working to enhance leadership capabilities in risk management and troop leading procedures. From there, training transitioned into small unit tactics and Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT).
This training is part of a long-running defense cooperation program with
Ukraine, and is taking place at the invitation of the Ukrainian Government.