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    Civil Affairs Team Conducts Mine Awareness Class in Ukraine

    Civil Affairs Team Conducts Mine Awareness Class in Ukraine

    Photo By Capt. Scott Kuhn | YAVORIV, Ukraine-- Staff Sgt. Ben Montgomery, team member of the Joint Multinational...... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Scott Kuhn 

    U.S. Army Europe   

    YAVORIV, Ukraine—It was like any typical school assembly one would see at any number of schools across the United States. The children were taught about the importance of good hygiene, getting plenty of sleep and healthy exercise. But then the presentation went into an area of discussion that most children in the United States never have to think about—land mine awareness.

    The Mine Risk Education Program, which began Oct. 25 and runs for two weeks, is a combined effort of the Civil Affairs team attached to the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine, the staff of Ukraine’s International Peacekeeping and Security Center, and emergency services from the local communities.

    According to Capt. Mike Tikkanen, the team leader of the civil affairs team, unauthorized civilian access on the training areas as well as the periphery of the training area where civilians actively farm and forage is a big problem for the IPSC. It makes it difficult to limit the risk to civilians from unexploded ordinance and explosive remnants of war from as far back as World War II. In the past year, there have been two incidents in the area involving civilians.

    Over the past year, Ukrainian and U.S. teams have looked at the issues facing the IPSC in the amount of unexploded ordinance they are finding. Some of the areas are so bad that the IPSC has restricted them from training. A major commitment by U.S. and Ukraine was made recently to clear 17 square miles of surface and sub-surface areas on the IPSC. A part of that program includes U.S. explosive ordinance units training with Ukrainian army sapper units. That training falls under humanitarian mine action, which is funded through European Command.

    “A part of HMA also covers mine risk education,” Tikkanen said. “So, we began asking ourselves, what can we do to help get at the outside of the IPSC? How do we help engage and mitigate that risk so that all of the training and de-mining operations can go on uninterrupted?”

    The result is the Mine Risk Education Program aimed at the Zhovkva and Yavoriv districts in Western Ukraine, which border the IPSC. The goal is to raise awareness among the children of the surrounding area, specifically the seven towns that directly border the IPSC. The plan is to conduct the training twice a year. Once in the fall, since it is the start of school and harvest season, and then again in the spring so that it is timed with the end of school and planting season.

    The children on this day are students at the school in Maheriv, which borders the north side of the training area. The classes are broken down by age group to target their educational and awareness level. The first group consists of kindergarten through fourth grade. They spend the first part of the class receiving instruction on health and well-being, even getting the chance to learn a few exercises from the civil affairs team. The mine awareness portion closes out the hour-long presentation. The other two classes, which focus on 5th through 8th grade and high school students, are heavier in details and information, especially with the mine awareness video.

    “We try to make it interesting and informative for the kids,” said Ruslan Romanyshan, Maheriv’s emergency services director. “That is why we have movies produced that are targeted at different age groups that show the risks and provide vital information for who to call if they come across a mine.”

    It is evident from the response of the children that the younger ones are not necessarily aware of the dangers of entering the training area. When asked, by show of hands, who had gone into the training area to pick berries or forage for mushrooms, many of the kids below the age of twelve raised their hands. The teenagers were a little less forthcoming in admitting to it.

    That’s why it was important to show a unified effort between the U.S. and Ukraine army and the local community Tikkanen said. “We wanted to get together and to do something that benefits the ongoing training here at the IPSC, but also has an enduring, lasting, positive effect on the local community.”

    It is also important for the children to hear this information coming from perceived experts such as Soldiers and emergency service personnel.

    “Kids can get the information that they need to know with more of an impact than if it was coming from a teacher,” said Iryna Rolko, Maheriv school director. “Although teachers talk to them about not going into the area, it is perceived as very typical, but when Soldiers are telling them to not go into the training area then they listen more. There is authority and respect behind the uniform.”

    The Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine is a combined effort of U.S., Lithuanian, Polish and Canadian forces to help create an enduring and sustainable training capacity within the Ukrainian Army. The mission if focused on direct training in the near-term while helping to build training capacity quickly through the consolidation and resourcing of dedicated Ukrainian training cadre.



    Date Taken: 10.27.2016
    Date Posted: 10.27.2016 02:52
    Story ID: 213045
    Location: YAVORIV, UA

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