When nations are working toward standardized training, they can request teams of advisors called Operational capabilities concept evaluators (OCCE) from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Allied Land Command (LANDCOM) to ensure their training is conducted within NATO standards. The evaluators train and develop these military forces to help upgrade their defense and response to various wartime conflicts.
With Ukraine currently at war in the East defending its borders, it is important for their soldiers to continually train and improve. The OCCEs focused on evaluating their proficiency within NATO standards for casualty care response, vehicle decontamination, locating and neutralizing land mines, and search and seizure techniques.
"The OCC program has been around for several years," said German Army Lt. Col. Tino Kohlmann, OCC Evaluation Director, NATO Headquarters Land Command—Izmir, Turkey. "It has proven to be a valuable tool to build up military capabilities in partner countries who are participating in this program."
One of Ukraine's mission is to transform their military to align with NATO training and operating standards. To do this they participated in a simulated casualty care response exercise while reacting to fire from enemy forces and demonstrated their proficiency as they moved fluently through the woods alongside their U.S. counterparts.
"Throughout the exercise, CIMIC is the primary partner for this training team, but the overall goal is to have a multi-component, multinational team," said Capt. James Rankin, civil affairs team leader with the Civil Military Support Element for Ukraine. "Within each CIMIC field team and [Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC)] headquarters you have Ukrainians, British, Reserve and Active U.S. civil affairs."
Various observers mentioned the improvements of the Ukrainians' processes and equipment, as they demonstrated lessons learned from past exercises. From the decontamination site to the medical lanes, the Armed Forces of Ukraine displayed their improvements in tactics and planning.
"I was impressed with the execution of the exercise and the Ukrainians' ability to learn quickly," said Rankin. "They had to react to contact, secure their site, provide tactical field care, and then they had to prepare the casualty for transportation."
Along with learning the best combat medical practices, it is important to learn how to mitigate risks of injury. One such threat common to the region is the threat of land mines, which can be devastating and if left unnoticed it can potentially disable vehicles, or even worse cause casualties. To help prevent future loss of life or limb on the battlefield, the Ukrainians ran an exercise with the purpose of locating and defusing land mines.
The decontamination process is important to develop Ukraine's capabilities to defend against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks. Prior to 2012, Ukraine was training on various tasks, but since then NATO has assisted in the development of the program to align with their training objectives.
"We do our training with the instructors from NATO," said Ukrainian Maj. Artem Karpus, deputy commander of Civilian Defense Battalion. "They have more experience so they are able to give us information and advice on how to improve our processes and techniques."
One such task includes ensuring the defense of the Ukrainian borders and knowing how to properly run a military check point becomes an important task and to help keep Ukrainian soldiers well trained, they set up a check point and conducted various searches and seizures. With a country at war, Ukraine's mission essential training during the STX lanes is paramount in the safety and survival of their military and their citizens.