(Tribune News Service) — New York Army National Guard soldiers from the Syracuse-based 27th Infantry Brigade Combat team are on their way home after overseeing the training of 9,600 Ukrainian troops.
The 140 soldiers, organized as Task Force Orion — for the brigade's nickname of Orion, the hunter — served as the command and administrative elements for the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine, known as the JTMG-U for short, since taking charge of the NATO's Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine in August of 2022.
According to a news release, over the course of nine months, Task Force Orion oversaw the U.S.-led training of Armed Forces of Ukraine soldiers on more than 15 different systems and equipment. The New Yorkers also assisted in the training of more than eight Ukrainian battalion tactical groups in combined arms and joint maneuver, according to Army officials.
"The proof and the results are in the bravery and the actions of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters who are accomplishing them on the battlefield," said Col. William Murphy, the task force commander.
On Friday, Task Force Orion turned over the responsibility for the JTMG-U to a National Guard team from Arkansas during a ceremony in Grafenwoehr, Germany.
While the 27th is headquartered in Syracuse it has units across the state and drew soldiers from all these units for Task Force Orion.
Murphy turned over command of the training group to Col. Olen Bridges, commander of the Arkansas Army National Guard's Task Force Bowie, during the ceremony.
The New York soldiers will return from Germany to Fort Bliss, Texas for demobilization and then will return home to airports across the state in May.
The training group was originally operating at Ukraine's training center near Yavoriv, Ukraine. In February 2022, just prior to the Russian invasion, the American trainers from the Florida Army National Guard, were relocated to the Grafenwoehr base.
From April to December 2022, training focused on instructing Ukrainian military personnel on how to use the American weapons systems and equipment sent to Ukraine.
Since January, training has included combined arms maneuver and staff training for Ukrainian battalions, brigades, and corps.
Task forces assigned to the mission have worked with numerous U.S. military units, as well as Allied and partner nations to ensure the success of U.S.-led Ukrainian training in Germany.
"The one common thread that has run through all of this, that has united all of those organizations and linked them together with our Ukrainian counterparts, has been JMTG-U," said Col. Stephen C. Marr, chief of staff of 7th Army Training Command.
The 27th Infantry Brigade is the only brigade to have contributed troops to the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine twice.
Soldiers from the New York Army National Guard conducted training for Ukrainian troops, alongside other NATO soldiers, at the Yavoriv base from November 2017 to August 2018.
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