Stepped-up training for Ukrainians on US weaponry to start in Germany next week
Stars and Stripes January 13, 2023
STUTTGART, Germany — The U.S. Army will begin training an expanded cadre of Ukrainian soldiers as early as next week at ranges in Germany, where troops will learn how to fire and maneuver with new armored fighting vehicles, military officials said this week.
The stepped-up effort means about 500 troops will cycle monthly through the Army’s training hubs in Germany, the largest of which is in the Bavarian town of Grafenwoehr.
The initial contingent of roughly 500 Ukrainian soldiers builds on other specialized training by U.S. forces since Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country in February, said Col. Martin O’Donnell, spokesman for U.S. Army Europe and Africa.
As of December, the Army in Europe had trained about 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers.
The training grounds in Grafenwoehr include more than 100 miles of tank and secondary trails as well as dozens of artillery and mortar firing positions, and aerial gunnery and close-air-support zones.
Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the top Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday the expectation is that Bradley armored vehicles, which were authorized for delivery to Ukraine earlier this month, will soon be operational in the war.
“We’re looking at weeks, not months,” Ryder said.
The arrival of the Bradleys coincides with a pledge by Germany to send Marder infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine. On Saturday, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised to provide Challenger 2 tanks and other artillery systems after speaking to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Meanwhile, other allies, including Poland, have indicated they are considering deliveries of modern battle tanks to the country.
The U.S. has sent some $20 billion in assistance to Ukraine since the start of the war. During that time, the range of weaponry delivered has expanded from simpler equipment such as Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to longer-range artillery and more advanced systems.
Ukrainian troops will soon begin training in the U.S. on the Patriot missile defense system, which is among the most complex in the Army’s inventory. Many months are required for mastery of it.
Meanwhile, the USAREUR-AF efforts in Germany will be overseen by the Security Assistance Group-Ukraine, which was established in Wiesbaden in November to coordinate support efforts for Ukraine.