Censor.NET reports citing Tulsa World.
A contingent of 250 Oklahoma National Guard soldiers is headed to Ukraine as a part of a training program designed to help the war-torn nation's military stand on its own.
Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment are set to deploy to western Ukraine next month as a part of Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine, an international program designed to boost the country's military capability and bring stability to the region.
Soldiers have spent months preparing for the environment they will be working in once they arrive in Ukraine. But Lt. Col. Colby Wyatt, the battalion's commander, said there's at least one factor the unit will just have to learn to live with.
"It's cold," Wyatt said.
During the six-month deployment, the Oklahoma soldiers and other advisers from the United Kingdom, Canada, Lithuania and Poland will train Ukrainian soldiers, many of whom are new draftees, Wyatt said. Others are hardened combat veterans, having served in the ongoing conflict with Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country.
For the next month, the Stillwater-based battalion is undergoing training at Fort Bliss, near El Paso, Texas, before it deploys to Ukraine in mid-January.
During a deployment ceremony earlier this month at First Baptist Church in Moore, Col. David Jordan, commander of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, said the work the soldiers do in Ukraine would help reshape that country's military not just in the short-term, but likely for generations to come.
Jordan reminded soldiers they would be working alongside Ukrainian veterans who have been under heavy Russian artillery attacks.
"They are absolutely a capable fighting force," Jordan said. "I suspect we'll learn as much from them as they learn from us."