As Mathias Mapes-Pearson, president of student organization Laker Vets, watches events unfold in Ukraine, he has observed that Russian military forces invading Ukraine are encountering Ukrainian military members who are significantly more battle tested than those he worked with in 2015.
Mapes-Pearson, a management information systems major and U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran, said he was in Ukraine then as part of the Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST), working a joint operation with Ukraine and Moldova.
He said they trained for a few weeks in eastern Ukraine on patrolling, marksmanship, identifying and eliminating improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, and other drills to help Ukrainian military members address the conflict in eastern Ukraine that started in 2014.
"The Ukrainians were still trying to get adapted to fighting within the city and the area there. We were there to help them take what we learned fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and how to fight in urban settings," Mapes-Pearson said.