Army gears up for Rapid Trident Exercise in Ukraine

Army gears up for Rapid Trident Exercise in Ukraine

Roughly 300 U.S. soldiers will join approximately 6,000 troops from 12 nations participating in an annual multinational training exercise in Ukraine later this month.Rapid Trident 21 will take place from Sept. 20 through Oct. 1 and will prepare personnel from allied and partner nations for crisis response, according to a news release from U.S. Army Europe and Africa command.

Last year’s exercise only involved 4,100 personnel.

Soldiers from the Washington Army National Guard’s 81st Stryker Brigade Combat Team have been deployed in support of the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine since April. They’ll be joined by 150 other Army representatives who will participate as mission enablers. The exercise is the final phase of a longer annual training exercise, which seeks to better prepare Ukrainian land forces for real-world defense challenges. [Maybe it is just me, but this seems to be strange wording, “Prepare … for real-world defense challenges”. Hello! The real world is right over on the Eastern side of Ukraine where Russia continues to conduct a live-fire, bloody war against Ukraine and continues to occupy and militarize Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. This (Rapid Trident) and other exercises are good and important but everyone and all Western governments need to keep in mind Ukraine is fighting a war to defend itself and our national security interests! And, it would seem to me news of such exercises and military assistance should be presented clearly in that context. RAM]

The exercise is a part of ongoing efforts to improve defensive capabilities in Ukraine, according to the Army. It comes less than a month after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s Aug. 31 meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the country’s defense minister, Andrii Taran.

The meeting focused on strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries — particularly in the wake of the Donbas war and annexation of Crimea. During their rendezvous, Austin and Taran signed the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Defense Framework. [Set out below. RAM]

The framework lays out bilateral defense goals and priorities set on a timeline running through 2026.

The framework’s strategic priorities include U.S. assistance in countering Russian activities, “including through a robust training and exercise program,” a primer document reads.

The laundry list of objectives aimed at boosting strategy and reform also spotlights cybersecurity and intelligence partnerships.

“The United States and our allies are committed to supporting Ukraine’s right to decide its own future foreign policy, free from outside interference,” Austin said in the August meeting.

September’s exercise will take place at the International Peacekeeping Security Centre near Yavoriv, Ukraine, and will follow COVID-19 safety measures, the news release said.


Fact Sheet – U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Defense Framework Aug. 31, 2021 

The signing of the U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Defense Framework by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Minister of Defence Andrii Taran enhances the robust strategic defense partnership between the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine (MOD). The Strategic Defense Framework reaffirms key principles and sets ambitious objectives for our bilateral defense relationship by:

Outlining pathways for the advancement of shared bilateral priorities to meet current and emerging security challenges;

Reiterating our commitment to shared democratic values, including the rule of law and respect for human rights;

Reaffirming DoD’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and condemning Russia’s occupation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine;

Delineating further how DoD and MOD collaborate to advance the military capabilities and readiness of Ukraine to preserve the country’s territorial integrity, progress toward NATO interoperability, and promote regional security;

Reiterating DoD’s continued support for Ukraine’s right to decide its own future foreign policy course, free from outside interference, including with respect to Ukraine’s NATO aspirations, as the United States and Allies reaffirmed in the June 2021 NATO Summit Communique. To continue toward these goals through December 2026, as laid out in the Framework, DoD and MOD have decided that the U.S.-Ukraine bilateral defense relationship should focus on, but is not limited to, the following strategic priorities:

Ensuring that bilateral security cooperation and U.S. assistance effectively helps Ukraine to counter Russian aggression, including through a robust training and exercise program.

Implementing defense sector reforms, in line with NATO principles and standards, building on the significant progress made since 2014.

Facilitating the execution of a defense industry strategy and reforms to meet the needs of Ukraine’s forces, including greater transparency in Ukrainian defense procurement, the implementation of Ukrainian corporate governance reforms, and building long-term strategic partnership in the field of science and technology that impact the future security environment.

Deepening Black Sea cooperation to ensure freedom of navigation and effectively counter external threats and challenges in all domains.

Strengthening cooperation on cyber security to deter malicious cyber activities on national security systems, to attribute such activities, and to defend against adversaries effectively.

Closer partnership of defense intelligence communities in support of military planning and defensive operations. DoD and MoD are jointly pursuing these strategic priorities through several lines of effort and associated activities aimed at reinforcing our shared policy objectives. All activities are dependent upon availability of forces, resources, funding, and authorization.

[I do note the fact sheet and its sentiments strike the right points but it is a "framework". Actions are necessary, and follow-up/implementation is key. Again, Russia is conducting a multi-dimensional war against Ukraine, and Ukrainian blood flows. Ukraine and our – American – national security interests are in the Russian cross hairs. We have done a lot, we must do more. RAM] 


FINALLY – I note that, as reported in the earlier Legislative Update, that when the House Committee on Rules considers on Monday which amendments will be made in order during the full House’s consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act 2022 (H.R. 4350) one amendment under consideration will be to impose sanctions on any entity responsible for the planning, construction, or operation of Nord Stream 2.

The bipartisan group of Members seeking to undo President Biden’s decision to waive sanctions is headed by Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and includes:

Adam Kinzinger (R-IL)

Ruben Gallego (D-AZ)

Joe Wilson (R-SC)

Mike Quigley (D-IL)

Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)

Andy Levin (D-MI)

Michael Turner (R-OH)

Steve Cohen (D-TN)

August Pfluger (R-TX)

Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)

Peter Meijer (R-MI)

Andy Harris (R-MD)

David McKinley (R-WV)


The original article was published by  Leila Barghouty in the Army Times. The comments inserted here-and-there above are Mr. McConnell's and do not necessarily express the views of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation or the Friends of Ukraine Network.