Kiev, Ukraine (Dec 19, 2014) – NATO and partners have enjoyed close security cooperation ties with Ukraine for over two decades, but only recently has such cooperation taken on a new sense of urgency. As war continues in Ukraine’s Donbass region, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has requested NATO’s and the Partnership for Peace Consortium’s (PfPC) assistance in reforming Ukrainian Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) education.
In response to Ukraine’s request for assistance, NATO and the PfPC assembled a multinational team of experts. The team - composed of members from Canada, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, USA, and the NATO International Staff - visited Kiev, Lviv and other locations to determine how best to put Ukraine’s request into action. Under the auspices of the Defense Education Enhancement Program (DEEP), jointly managed by the PfPC and NATO, the visit enabled participants to collectively agree on a concept for cooperation.
The DEEP academic lead for Ukraine, Professor Bogusław Pacek, Major General (ret.) from Poland, assesses that carrying out changes in Ukraine’s NCO education will take about three years. Experts estimate the magnitude of education changes to be very significant, and accordingly the cooperative effort will require contributions from numerous countries.
Ukrainian soldiers expressed to the team a desire for rapid change in their education system, at the same time acknowledging the challenges ahead. Sergeant Oleksandr Kosynski, Command Senior Enlisted Leader of Ukrainian Armed Forces, reiterated the soldiers’ wishes for change.
Sergeant Kosynski’s sense of urgency is met with support from senior Ukrainian officials. The Deputy Secretary General of the National Security and Defense Council, Mr. O. Lytvynenko, and the Deputy Minister of Defense, Mr Petro Mehed, met with the DEEP delegation and acknowledged the need for the education enhancement program and pledged their support.
The DEEP team is scheduled to return to Ukraine in January 2015 to officially propose a multi-year cooperation plan to the Ukrainian Defense Minister. Upon approval, the DEEP program will be poised to begin NCO education reform activities in Ukraine, signalling the start of a cooperative relationship that from the Ukrainian Armed Forces perspective couldn’t come at a better time.