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The The Pentagon plans to transport Ukrainian troops to the United States to train them in the Patriot missile defense system, A US official with direct knowledge of the development reported Tuesday, The Washington Post reported.
The Training will take place at Fort Sill, an expansive facility that covers about 145 square miles southwest of Oklahoma City, and could begin as soon as this month.said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan ahead of a formal announcement.
The base is home to the US Army’s Patriot missile defense basic training program and another designed to teach US personnel field artillery maneuvers.
The move follows President Biden’s decision last month to approve the transfer of a Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine, which for weeks has endured Russian missile attacks on its power grid and other vital infrastructure.
Germany announced last week that it would also send a Patriot battery to bolster Ukraine’s air defenses. while millions face repeated blackouts that have cut off heat, electricity and internet access to much of the country.
It was not immediately clear how many Ukrainian soldiers would be sent to Oklahoma.
A typical Patriot battery includes around 90 soldiers, although in the past US personnel have conducted similar training for only a small number of their counterparts who then return to the battlefield and teach their comrades what they have learned. .
It’s an approach the Pentagon refers to as “train the trainer” and has been used since the war began to show Ukrainians how to operate drones, howitzers and other systems.
Arriving Tuesday morning, Pentagon officials refused to discuss the plan. But a senior defense official, Laura Cooper, said last week that training on the advanced US system would begin in January and it would be several months before Ukrainian soldiers would be qualified to use it in combat.
“Patriot is not a short-term capability,” said Cooper, deputy assistant secretary of defense. “But we will start that training very soon.”
A Pentagon spokesman, General Patrick Ryder, said last week that details were still being worked out.
“I can tell you that we are exploring a variety of options to include potential training here in the US, abroad, or a combination of both,” he said.
The Pentagon is contemplating a major expansion of military training in Ukraine.
The plan to hold the training at Fort Sill, first reported by CNN, comes as the Biden administration makes a series of moves to transform the Ukrainian military from a force primarily capable of stopping the Russian advance into one that can mount offensive operations. more successful. to recapture the occupied Ukrainian territory.
Senior US officials have said the Pentagon is also preparing to train hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers at a time at a US facility in Germany, focusing them on what the US military calls combined arms warfare.
The concept integrates ground operations with long-range artillery, aviation, and other weapons.
In recent weeks, Biden has also approved a vast expansion of arms transfers to Ukraine, and the United States has agreed to send heavily armored Bradley fighting vehicles, self-propelled artillery and thousands of rounds of ammunition to support them.
It is an effort, Cooper said last week, aimed at “changing the dynamics” on the battlefield and allowing Ukrainian forces to make further progress on the war front, which has remained largely static for months.
The package approved Friday included more than $3 billion in military assistance, the largest single transfer since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. The United States has approved the transfer of $24.2 billion in weapons since the invasion began.
Heavy fighting is raging in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine as both sides battle for Soledar, a salt mining town just three miles from Bakhmut.
Russian forces and mercenaries from the Wagner Group are likely to have taken control of most of the city, Britain’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.
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