U.S. military begins expanded training of Ukrainian troops in Germany


Boarding a U.S. military plane to fly over Europe — The U.S. military has launched an expanded, more complex training program for Ukrainian troops focused on large-scale operations aimed at boosting Ukrainian forces from Russia, the top Pentagon general said. The ability to retake territory in hands Sunday.

The training, which began Sunday at Germany’s Grafenwohr training area, will last five or six weeks, the general’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark A. Milley said on a flight from Washington to Europe. About 500 soldiers will receive an initial version of the training focused on what the military calls combined arms warfare, in which tanks, artillery, combat vehicles and other weapons are layered to maximize the violence they inflict.

“We want Ukrainians to be able to successfully defend their country,” Milley said. “Ukraine is only defending itself, they are trying to liberate Ukraine from Russian occupation.”

The training, first revealed in planning late last year, began as the United States and its allies locked down a growing list of weapons that could be used within months in an anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive. The Biden administration approved a $3 billion arms transfer in January. 6, marking the largest single arms transfer to Ukraine since Russia invaded nearly a year ago, as the government seeks cooperation from other allies to provide similar weapons. Weapons in the US package included 50 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and a mobile howitzer.

Other countries, including Britain, Poland and France, have pledged to supply auxiliary weapons, including main battle tanks, and Ukraine has pressured Germany to do the same. Milley said the challenge will be determining how quickly the Ukrainian military can prepare and train for use with all the new military equipment. The situation will ease as some Ukrainian troops are already familiar with other armored weapons, such as the T-72 tank.

“It’s going to take a little bit of time,” Milley said. “Five, six, seven, eight weeks, who knows. We’ll see what happens here. But in terms of its criticality, now is the need.”

The general plans to spend a week in Europe, meeting his European counterparts, watching training, observing a logistics center where weapons flow and participating in planning meetings with officials from NATO allies and Ukraine’s military. On Friday, he and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will participate in a gathering of the Ukraine Liaison Group, a gathering of countries supporting the Kyiv government to assess Ukraine’s needs and make pledges about what they can offer.

Milley said Ukraine’s top priority was finding more air defense systems, an ongoing challenge after Russian missiles struck a civilian apartment complex in the city of Dnipro on Saturday, killing dozens.

“They get really major attacks every few weeks, and their attacks on civilian infrastructure,” the general said. “As a matter of policy, the Russians consciously attack civilians and civilian infrastructure. That in itself is a war crime.”

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