Ukrainian and U.S. soldiers prepare for Exercise Rapid Trident 2011. Rapid Trident, a multi-national airborne operation and field training exercise in support of Ukraine's annual program to achieve interoperability with NATO. Photo by Staff Sgt. Brendan Stephens/U.S. Army
Sept. 20 (UPI) -- The Rapid Trident 21 exercise to enhance interoperability between Ukraine, U.S. and NATO partners started Monday, with an opening ceremony at Central City Stadium near Yavoriv, Ukraine, and will run through Oct. 1.
The United States and Ukraine have partnered over 25 years on the annual exercise, which is the final training event to prepare Ukrainian Land Force units for deployments.
"This exercise is not just another stage of military skills improvement," Ukrainian Brig. Gen. Vladyslav Klochkov, co-director of Rapid Trident 21 from the Ukrainian side, who spoke at the opening ceremony in Ukraine Monday said in a press release.
"It will strengthen the operational capabilities of our troops, improve the interoperability between units and headquarters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the United States and NATO partners," Klochkov said.
The Ukrainian-led and U.S. Army Europe and Africa-assisted exercise is being held this year at the International Peacekeeping Security Center near Yavoriv, Ukraine, a U.S. Army Europe and Africa statement said.
The exercise has been set up to enhance interoperability among allied and partner nations and show that they are ready to respond to any crisis.
Allied and partner service members from 15 nations kicked off the exercise Monday with the opening ceremony at Central City Stadium near Yavoriv, Ukraine.
About 300 U.S. soldiers will participate in the annual exercise, along with 6,000 multinational troops, under the banner of Partnership for Peace, a cooperative program for NATO and Euro-Atlantic partner countries.
"In unity and with Rapid Trident, we have opened a new page of history in the name of the future of our children, families, and people for peace, happiness and prosperity," said Ukrainian Maj. Gen. Ihor Palagnyuk, commander of the training of the Land Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
The training will include brigade-level computer assisted exercises with platoon-level maneuver training, and brigade-level field training with security and stability operations, according to officials.
The U.S. participation alone includes the Washington Army National Guard 81st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, which has been deployed since April in support of the Joint Multinational Training Group Ukraine and some 150 other U.S. Army representatives.
Along with the United States and Ukraine, other nations participating in the exercise include Bulgaria, Canada, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Lithuania, the Republic of Moldova, Pakistan, the Republic of Poland, Romania, Turkey and Britain.
Last year, the U.S. reduced the number of troops participating in the exercise due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 mitigation measures will be integrated into the exercise this year to protect participants and host nation communities, the U.S. Army Europe and Africa statement noted.