Remarks by Major General Kirk Smith, Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command Europe

Remarks by Major General Kirk Smith, Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command Europe at a Handover Ceremony for the Alaska Shelter Package to Ukrainian Special Operations
February 21, 2020

Thank you very much for the opportunity to participate in this event. I’m very honored to be able to represent the United States, specifically U.S. Special Operations Command Europe, and our great partners that we have here that work with us.

The U.S. is just one part of many of the NATO allies that are here, helping Ukrainian SOF develop and train a more effective force. I’m very happy that we are able to contribute in some ways where we can leverage the U.S. government to provide facilities like we have behind us.

While this may seem like a very small token — in terms of tents and facilities for soldiers to live in while they train — we understand, as you understand, how important it is to make the foundation for their training successful.

Everything begins with a very strong, stable foundation. There is no better of example of that than the concrete that is poured for these tents to sit on. It is also important that you have all of the infrastructure to supply these tents with electricity and heat. You, Ukraine, have provided those things, to make these tents effective.

There’s also no better place to see this than at the 142nd training center. As I said before, the foundation is absolutely essential to build a strong SOF. The 142nd training center is the foundation of Ukrainian SOF. Your training center is where everything begins to make that force the most effective that it can be. Your leadership here at the training center, your NCOs here at the training center, your instructors here at the training center, is what makes Ukrainian SOF effective.

As your commander said, this is the most important part – soldiers going through the qualification course, to make Ukrainian SOF what it can be. Again, as I said, this may seem small, but there’s a lot of hard work to get to this point now. I am honored to be a part of this, I look forward to seeing continued success and partnership with the U.S.

General Lunyov, thank you once again very much.