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Romanian, Ukrainian soldiers join US Marines for peacekeeping training

US Marine Corps News

By Cpl. R. Logan Kyle, Black Sea Rotational Force

BABADAG TRAINING AREA, Romania -- Marines and Sailors with scout platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Tank Battalion, are currently partnered alongside Romanian and Ukrainian soldiers at Babadag Training Area, Romania, to conduct the third peacekeeping operation training evolution during the Black Sea Rotational Force 2010 deployment.

Throughout the two-week evolution, the Marines, Romanians and Ukrainians will sharpen their skills in a variety of fields, including the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, convoy operations, patrolling, combat marksmanship and nonlethal weapons. However, the rigorous peacekeeping operations course is about more than just honing skills, it’s also an opportunity for the three nations to work together as partners.

“This is the first time we’ve worked with our neighbors, the Ukrainians, as well as the Marines,” said Romanian Land Forces 1st Lt. Priciu Volentin, a platoon commander with 341st Battalion. “We want to see what we can learn from both of them.”

“We’re here to focus on training for missions in Afghanistan, and I hope we can build a strong partnership with the Ukrainians,” he added.

Ukrainian soldiers said they agree the training opportunity offers a unique opportunity to bolster relationships across borders.

“It’s a very good experience for us to train with Americans and Romanians, and it’s very important to us,” said Ukrainian Army 1st Lt. Aleksander Yasko, a combat training and planning instructor with the 30th Mechanized Infantry Brigade. “We have already learned new techniques we can use when preparing soldiers for combat.

“All of this is very interesting and new for us. We look forward to continuing to build this friendship,” he added.

Since arriving in Romania, the Marines and Sailors of scout platoon have spent the majority of their deployment at Babadag Training Area, and some said they think of Babadag’s pastoral, rolling hills as a home away from home.

“It’s been exciting experiencing the Eastern European culture,” said Lance Cpl. Ryan Hazlitt, an assaultman with scout platoon, H and S Co., 1st Tank Bn. “It’s a pleasant change of scenery from our desert in Twentynine Palms, Calif., but I do miss the comforts of home.”

The Marines have spent the past six weeks working in the Black Sea, Balkan and Caucasus regions to promote regional stability, build enduring partnerships and build partner nations’ military capabilities. The Security Cooperation Marine Air-Ground Task Force is Marine Corps Forces Europe’s commitment to a rotating presence of Marines in Eastern Europe to meet U.S. European Command’s theater security cooperation objectives.

“We’ve had a good time here,” said Hazlitt, a native of Brownwood, Texas. “We’ve had the chance to meet several unique people and build strong bonds at the same time.

“I think we’ll be able to walk away from this deployment with a great sense of satisfaction and a new group of friends,” he added.

The peacekeeping operations training for U.S, Romanian and Ukrainian troops is slated to run through June 24 and will mark the end of the Black Sea Rotational Force’s training at Babadag. Scout platoon is next slated to report to Novo Selo, Bulgaria, in late June to train alongside Bulgarian forces in the final peacekeeping operation training course of the deployment.

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