Ukrainian NCOs, CMSAF, visit and study in the KMC

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Steven M. Adkins
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe Air Forces Africa Public Affairs

Noncommissioned officers from Ukraine’s Air Force and National Guard, along with the Ukrainian Armed Forces Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force, visited and studied in the Kaiserslautern Military Community for three weeks in March 2023.

Ukrainian NCOs study at IEAFA

The Inter-European Air Force Academy on Kapaun Air Station, Germany, hosted 49 Ukrainian NCOs for a three-week course – marking the first time IEAFA has offered a course designed for and offered to only Ukrainian forces.

During the course, students strengthened their knowledge, focusing on professional military education, air base defense, tactical combat casualty care and women, peace, and security.

“We challenged the students with numerous lessons and tasks, testing their followership, leadership, problem-solving, and team-building capabilities,” said Master Sgt. Craig Crabtree, IEAFA course director. “I can say with utmost confidence that the Ukrainian NCO students exceeded every expectation, and that we [IEAFA instructors and other cadre] are the ones that are honored and grateful to have had this opportunity with them.”

Ukraine’s military is undergoing a shift from a soviet-era ranking system that is commissioned officer-centric to a more western-style rank and tier structure, focusing heavily on the enlisted force, particularly the NCO corps.

“It is the enlisted force that makes the mission possible, and we know this to be true in your military as well,” said Col. Beth Lane, U.S. Air Forces in Europe Air Forces Africa International Affairs Division chief, during class graduation. “Your leadership, though not necessarily acknowledged by job title, has a profound impact on those around you.”

On average, IEAFA holds 7 to 8 courses per year to a multitude of international students. This course, however, was uniquely tailored to meet Ukrainian learning objectives.

“We run a lot of courses here at IEAFA, and they’ve all been good, but this one has been different. This one has been special because of these students, who they are and what they’re doing right now,” said Lt. Col. Matt Mumm, IEAFA commandant. "This course is directly in line with the Academy's mission to strengthen security cooperation and accelerate interoperability through education, training, and enduring relationships, and we're all proud to have been a part of it."

The course had several helping hands and instructors from outside of IEAFA to include 435 Security Forces Squadron, 86 Civil Engineer Squadron, 86 Logistic Readiness Squadron, 86 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, 86 Medical Group, 721 Aerial Port Squadron and 693 Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group.

All 49 students returned to Ukraine to rejoin their fellow service members after graduating from the IEAFA course on March 23, 2023.

Ukrainian CMSAF tours and meets with USAFE-AFAFRICA teammates

Along with the 49 IEAFA students, the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Kostiantyn Stanislavchuk, came along for the three-week visit.

Chief Stanislavchuk had key leader engagements throughout USAFE, NATO Air Command, U.S. European Command and more. He delivered a presentation titled ‘NCO Perspective from the Frontlines’ to eight different audiences, engaging with hundreds of Airmen of all different ranks, where he discussed Ukrainian Air Force structure, training, difficulties and plans for the future of the force.

A major focus for Stanislavchuk’s trip to Germany was the learning atmosphere at IEAFA.

“Operations have shown us first of all the importance of training, as in critical moments a service member acts based on their training and skillset gained,” Stanislavchuk said. “In the moment of internal contradiction, competency and training play a crucial role, allowing us to control the situation.”

The largest accomplishment of Stanislavchuk’s engagements was the establishment of face-to-face contact with his counterparts and key leaders to create relationships, which is better than a phone call. A handshake and eye contact. These encounters open the possibility for future training and learning opportunities for his Air Force.

These engagements also further solidify the words of the U.S. commander-in-chief, echoing his message of “we’re in this with you.”

Ukrainian born U.S. Air Force Reserve Senior Airman 

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Viktoria Senkiv serves her Air Force Reserve time out of the 910 Security Forces Squadron at Youngstown Air Reserve Station in northeast Ohio, but for the past year, the Ukraine native has been yearning to serve the people of her native country.

“I’ll never forget that night when it all started,” Senkiv said. “I was panicking because I wanted to do something for them, but at that moment I didn’t know what I could do.”

Months later, the answer to Airman Senkiv’s question was answered by a phone call.

“I got a call from my leadership, and I didn’t even listen to the whole deal, I just said ‘yes!’” Senkiv said. “The possibility for me to go and help, to do something, I just said yes right away. A few days later I packed my bags and now I’m here.”

Senkiv served as a translator throughout the duration of the IEAFA course, acting as the conduit between student and instructor. Airman to airman.

“The most rewarding part of this experience is that I see the immediate results of my work here and it makes your heart smile,” Senkiv said. “I am really grateful for this opportunity.”

Senkiv said though her time translating for the IEAFA course is over, she will continue to volunteer her time back home in the United States for her native country of Ukraine and hopes to return to translate in the future. 

To read more on Senior Airman Senkiv’s story, visit: