Ukrainian troops began combat training with the US Army. (REUTERS/Oleksandr Ratushniak)
Extensive new US Army combat training of Ukrainian forces has begun in Germany, with the goal of returning a battalion of about 500 soldiers to the battlefield to fight the Russians in the next five to eight weeks, the general said. Mark Milley, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Milley, who plans to visit the Grafenwoehr training area on Monday to see the program firsthand, said the troops undergoing training left Ukraine a few days ago. In Germany there is a complete set of weapons and equipment for you to use.
Until now, the Pentagon has refused to say exactly when the training would begin.
The so-called combined arms training is aimed at honing the skills of Ukrainian forces so they are better prepared to launch an offensive or counter any wave of Russian attacks. They will learn how to better move and coordinate their units on the battlefield using combined artillery, armor, and ground forces.
General Mark Milley, Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff. (REUTERS/Tom Brenner)
Speaking to two reporters who traveled with him to Europe on Sunday, Milley said the complex training, combined with a raft of new weapons, artillery, tanks and other vehicles headed for Ukraine, will be key to helping the country’s forces take back territory that has been captured by Russia in the nearly 11-month war.
“This support is really important so that Ukraine can defend itself,” Milley said. “And we hope we can achieve this here in a short time.”
The goal, he said, is for all incoming weapons and equipment to be delivered to Ukraine so that newly trained forces can use them “sometime before the spring rains appear.
The new instruction comes as Ukrainian forces are facing fierce fighting in the eastern province of Donetsk, where the Russian military has claimed control of the small salt mining town of Soledar. Ukraine claims its troops are still fighting, but if Moscow troops take control of Soledar, it would allow them to inch closer to the larger city of Bakhmut, where fighting has raged for months.
The goal is for all weapons and equipment from the training to be delivered to Ukraine. (REUTERS/Oleksandr Ratushniak)
Russia also launched a widespread barrage of missile strikes, including in kyiv, the northeastern city of Kharkiv and the southeastern city of Dnipro, where the death toll at an apartment building rose to 30.
Milley said he wants to make sure training is on track and if anything else is needed, and also make sure it aligns well with equipment deliveries.
The program will include classroom instruction and field work beginning with small squads and gradually growing to involve larger units. It would culminate in a more complex combat exercise involving an entire battalion and a headquarters unit.
Until now, the US focus has been on providing Ukrainian forces with the most immediate battlefield needs, particularly how to use the wide range of Western weapons systems coming into the country.
The program will include classroom instruction and field work. (REUTERS/Viacheslav Ratynskyi)
The United States has already trained more than 3,100 Ukrainian soldiers on how to use and maintain certain weapons and other equipment, including howitzers, armored vehicles, and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, known as HIMARS. Other nations are also conducting training on the weapons they provide.
Announcing the new program last month, Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s press secretary, said the idea “is to be able to give them this advanced level of collective training that allows them to conduct effective combined arms operations and maneuver on the battlefield.”
Milley said the United States was doing this type of training before the Russian invasion last February. But once the war started, the US National Guard and special operations forces that were training inside Ukraine left the country. This new effort, which is being conducted by the US Army’s 7th Army Europe and Africa Training Command, will be a continuation of what they had been doing before the invasion. Other European allies are also providing training.
(With information from AP)
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