Remarks by General Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army

GEN ODIERNO:  (In progress) We had discussions about the training that is going on here.  I also got updates on what’s going on in eastern Ukraine, so I have a better understanding of the facts on the ground.  I was very appreciative of the meetings that we had.  They were very productive.  And I believe this relationship that we have with Ukraine is an important one, and I’m very happy that I was able to spend time there.

Then, today I came out here and I just spent time going through the joint training that’s going on between the National Guard and the 173rd Airborne Brigade out of the United State Army.  First, I’m very impressed with the training area.  It is a very good training area — very modernized training area — and provides a lot of capability in order to build readiness.

I’d like to emphasize that this training is shared training. It is the American forces training the Ukrainian forces, and it’s the Ukrainian forces also training American forces. One of the most important parts of the training is not only are they training together, they are living together, they are eating together, they are spending time off together — building strong relationships between our two armies.  And I’ve heard both from the Ukrainian soldiers and the American soldiers how valuable the training has been.

And I look forward to your questions.

QUESTION:  (In Ukrainian.)

GEN ODIERNO:  I think, first off, one of the reasons I came here is to do an evaluation of the training that’s being conducted, and I’m very pleased with how the training is being done so far.  I think it is worthwhile training.  I think it’s training that both sides are benefiting from.  When I go back to the United States, I’ll provide my recommendation as we look to make a decision in the future on future training.

QUESTION:  To follow up on that — General Odierno, do you support expanding the training here to the Ministry of Defense forces?  And as a second question, do you personally support providing longer-range counter-battery mortar radar for the Ukrainian forces?

GEN ODIERNO:  I think those are discussions that we — I’m sorry, go ahead, you wanted to translate that.  (In Ukrainian.)  So, it’s clear that the Ukrainians would like more support and more counter-battery radars, and it’s clear that they would like us to support increase in the training and expanding the training.  I will take my thoughts back and provide it to the leadership as we go through and make a decision, and I’ll just leave it at that.

QUESTION:  (In Ukrainian.)

GEN ODIERNO:  Thank you for the question.  I was briefed on the plan, the three year plan that is here, and it’s a very good plan.  And I believe it’s worth the investment to make in continuing to develop this training area.  I believe that if you can properly develop this, this will turn into a facility that enables the Ukraine to sustain readiness for long periods of time.

QUESTION:  (In Ukrainian.)

GEN ODIERNO:  What I would say is I believe it has improved significantly over the last year. I think the readiness of your forces has gotten better.  It’s gotten better.  And as I’ve looked at the training so far, I can see that the level of capability continues to grow, and I think that’s a very positive, positive sign.

If I could just add one other thing — the passion that I see in the soldiers and their dedication to get better is — in my mind — really significant.  And as long as they continue to have that passion and dedication, they will continue to get better. And it speaks very well of the Ukrainians and the Ukrainian army.  It is the same dedication I see in our soldiers when we ask them to go and do an important mission.