WASHINGTON — The US Army is preparing to send approximately 300 troops at a time to train Ukrainian forces in western Ukraine, according to documents posted on a government contracting site.
A solicitation posted in late February said that the US government is looking for a contractor to provide seven 50-passenger buses from March 5 through Oct. 31 for the purpose of ferrying up to 300 US troops from the L'viv International airport to the International Peace Keeping and Security Center at the Yavoriv training range in the far west of Ukraine.
It's been no secret that US and a handful of UK forces have been planning on traveling to Yavoriv this spring to begin training Ukrainian forces for their fight against pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the country. But officials have at times been vague as to dates and times and numbers.
The solicitation also states that "the US and Ukrainian Army shall conduct a joint training mission at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center (IPSC) near L'viv, Ukraine from approximately 5 MAR - 31 OCT 15."
The Army will rotate 300 troops at a time it appears, with March, May, July, August and October being the relief dates for each group.
The plan to train four companies of the Ukrainian National Guard comes as part of a US State Department initiative "to assist Ukraine in strengthening its law enforcement capabilities, conduct internal defense, and maintain rule of law," Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Vanessa Hillman told Defense News this year.
Funding for the initiative is coming from the congressionally-authorized Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF), which was requested by the Obama administration in the fiscal 2015 budget to help train and equip the armed forces of allies around the globe. The United States has already earmarked $19 million to help build the Ukrainian National Guard.
On Tuesday, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he believes the US "should absolutely consider providing lethal aid" to Ukraine if the Moscow-backed separatists continue to make gains and gobble up territory.