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Pentagon eyes major expansion of Ukraine military training



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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other top Pentagon officials are considering expanding training for Ukraine’s military. a move that could greatly enhance the ability to drive Russian forces out of occupied areas even as it draws the United States into deeper involvement in the war.

The plan, discussed for weeks, according to senior US defense officials, will build on billions of dollars in weapons and other aid. Washington has supplied Ukraine by showing its military how to conduct a more sophisticated campaign against the struggling Russian military.

It will see the battle of Ukraine units with hundreds, or even thousands of soldiers, train together in Grafenwoehr, Germany, where the US military has been instructing Ukrainian forces in smaller numbers for years. Austin was keen to increase Ukraine’s mobility on the battlefield with a more modern style of warfare that was less dependent on firing thousands of shells a day at the Russian army in what had turned into a war. fierce and bloody attrition.

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Austin is known to support a significantly expanded U.S. training program, along with similar programs for tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops, run by Britain, European Union countries, and others such as Norway. undertake. Germany alone plans to train 5,000 soldiers by June at the initiative of the EU, at German army combat simulation centers and battalion-level headquarters.

Since the beginning of the war, President Biden has said that the United States and NATO are not at war with Russia, but yes responsibility to support a fellow democracy in defending itself against gratuitous aggression. Moscow has denied those claims, accusing the United States and its allies of using Ukraine as a disposable proxy for their own purposes against Russia.

Russia has escalated its rhetoric in response to European training announcements. “Don’t say that the US and NATO are not involved in this war,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters on Thursday. “You are directly involved, including not only the supply of weapons but also the training of personnel. … You are training their troops on your territory, on the territory of Great Britain, Germany, Italy and other countries.”

The new training demanded by Ukraine comes as the pace of the war is expected to slow, though not stop, through the frigid winter months of Ukraine and its allies pondering how to make the most of it. make the best use of your time. Counterattacks south of Kherson, a strategic Black Sea city abandoned by Russian troops last month, and into separatist strongholds to the east are expected to be difficult, as the Russians Take the time to fortify their defenses.

Ukraine was able to award Russian forces battlefield losses in multiple locations, but with significant casualties on both sides. General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assessed last month that more than 100,000 Russian soldiers were killed or wounded since the Russian invasion on 24 February, and “probably” an equal number of Ukrainian troops.

According to Western intelligence assessments, the Russians are expected to continue to overwhelm the Ukrainian army, launching tens of thousands of shells a day along with a range of missiles and other weapons. At the same time, Russian forces have been augmented with the “mobilization” of thousands of additional troops whose effectiveness has so far been limited due to minimal training, low morale, and logistical difficulties. need.

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Even if training of Ukrainian forces on specific weapons systems continues, the West’s supply is not limitless. The goal of the new training is to teach Ukrainians tactics that will increase the effectiveness of their weapons, while also using on a larger scale the agility and adaptability they have shown against their opponents. small unit.

More Ukrainian interns are expected to be recruited as the Kiev government continues to mobilize virtually every available resource, according to US and European officials.

It is unclear whether the expansion of US training will significantly increase the growing cost of aid to Ukraine, which is being opposed by some lawmakers, mainly Republicans. While aid to Ukraine still enjoys broad bipartisan support, GOP lawmakers, who will take over the House of Representatives next month, have vowed to step up oversight.

Austin’s vision is in some ways similar to the training that U.S. military units receive at their major training centers, such as the Army’s National Training Center at Fort Irwin in California. California and the Marine Corps Airborne Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California. Before deployment, units spend weeks confirming that they are ready to fight in a coordinated armed war, in which infantry, motorized forces, artillery units, and other services work together. to find, surround and destroy enemy units. Discussion of expanding US training to Ukrainian forces was previously reported by CNN.

The US military’s training of Ukrainian forces began on a large scale following Russia’s 2014 invasion and seizure of Crimea. But much of that instruction focuses on special operations and resistance rather than full-scale attacks against a powerful adversary. Since last winter’s invasion, trainers have focused on teaching a small number of soldiers at a time how to perform specific tasks, such as launching and maintaining artillery. they are provided.

Pentagon spokesman, Air Force Brig. General Patrick Ryder, said on Thursday that the Department of Defense, along with Western allies and partner countries, “relently seeks to support Ukraine through a variety of security assistance efforts, including mining create.” The ministry, he added, has no new announcements to make.

Loveday Morris in Berlin contributed to this report.

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