Commander of NATO Allied Land Command (LANDCOM), Lieutenant General John Thomson and Ukrainian Army Colonel General Serhiy Popko, Commander of Ukrainian Land Forces Command, signed a letter of cooperation on Sept. 6, 2018, at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center near Lviv, Ukraine.
“This is a tremendous honour for LANDCOM. I’m impressed with your training facility and how advanced this exercise is,” Thomson said. “Our headquarters and staff are excited about the future of this relationship. When I visited NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), they are excited about what LANDCOM is doing with Ukraine.”
Popko agreed. “The document we are about to sign today is strategically important for us in terms of our future cooperation,” he said during the meeting. “We are truly interested in the future cooperation… that is critically essential for us.”
The purpose of the letter is to establish the framework for future cooperation between NATO’s LANDCOM and the Ukrainian ground forces in the land domain. As Europe continues to respond to the aggressive actions of a potential adversary, this cooperation has deep implications in the NATO deterrence mission and in the efforts of NATO member nations and partner nations in the collective defense of Europe.
The commanders signed the letter during the middle of a large Ukrainian training exercise, known as EXERCISE RAPID TRIDENT 2018, which focuses on the interoperability and readiness of Ukrainian ground forces with a total of 2,270 troops from 14 participating nations including nearby NATO members. The annual exercise runs from Sept. 3 to 15.
During this year’s exercise, LANDCOM’s Military Cooperation Team is evaluating two Ukrainian Army units: an engineer company and a CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear) company. The evaluation is part of the Operational Capability Concept Evaluation and Feedback Program. The program is a practical military tool that serves as a vehicle for a closer operational relationship between the Alliance and potential contributors to NATO-led operations by supporting partner nation efforts to develop forces that are fully interoperable and capable of operating with NATO standards and procedures.