WASHINGTON, Nov. 23 (UPI) — The U.S. Defense Department announced the beginning of the second phase of its program to train and equip Ukrainian armed forces on Monday.
The operation, known as Fearless Guardian, has seen the U.S. government spending over $ 265 million on training and equipment, according to Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis. The second phase will train up to five battalions with an additional battalion of special forces personnel. The second part of Fearless Guardian follows the training of Ukraine’s national guard forces.
“This is part of our ongoing efforts to contribute to Ukraine’s long-term military reform and professionalism, and to help improve Ukraine’s internal defense capabilities and training capacity,” Davis said in a statement.
The U.S. military has committed around 300 soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade to participate in training events, taking place in western Ukraine. The training also involves NATO partner countries and additional U.S. personnel. The U.S. Marine Corps announced they are considering expanding their training program in September.
The training is part of an effort approved by Congress in 2014 to strengthen the Ukrainian government as it continues its fight against Russian-backed separatists based in the eastern part of the country.