Remarks by Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Joseph Pennington at the Military English Graduation Ceremony

June 7, 2019

Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to be here with General [Serhiy] Salkutsan to mark the graduation of 19 Ukrainian Armed Forces Officers from the basic English course provided by the U.S. Defense Language Institute.

This course was conducted based on a special request by senior levels of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to teach English to officers serving in key positions, who otherwise would not have had access to English instruction. For the past twelve weeks all of you were trained intensively by two instructors from the U.S. as part of a larger U.S. effort to further knowledge of English within the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Our effort also provided tools and educational materials to seven institutions around Ukraine to deliver English instruction to members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and to send instructors from Ukraine, from these institutions to the United States for further professional development.

Increasing the number of officers with knowledge of English enhances interoperability between Ukraine and the United States, as well as between Ukraine and our other NATO partners. These new abilities will help further your military careers, enrich your personal interactions, and also make you eligible for other U.S. military education assistance programs.

One example is one called IMET – International Military Education and Training Program – under which officers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces are selected to travel to the United States to attend U.S. military courses. This IMET training program provided $2.9 million in assistance in 2019 alone, but of course that assistance is just a small part of our overall security assistance to Ukraine, which amounts to more than $1.5 billion since 2014.

The United States continues to provide this assistance because we are committed to Ukraine and Ukraine’s ability to defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity.

We will continue to aid Ukraine in its defense institution building and reform efforts. I’ll give you three examples. One: implementing a capabilities based planning system to ensure Ukraine builds a professional, sustainable defense force that is capable of protecting Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Second: Fighting corruption in the defense sector through implementation of internal control systems that manage risk. And third: reforming Ukraine’s defense industry to ensure that it operates in line with international standards of corporate governance and transparency.

Implementing these reforms will help Ukraine achieve our shared goal of a robust, capable Armed Forces of Ukraine that is interoperable with NATO.

I want to conclude there. Thank you for participating in this program. I wish you success as you continue to develop your English, which we hope and trust will be used well in your professional development and also to enhance your interactions with your U.S. partners and your other NATO partners. Thank you again for participating.