According to the Pentagon, the first batch of about 400 Ukrainian troops have started training in Germany on how to use and maintain US M1 Abrams tanks, another milestone in arming Kiev as he seeks to recover territory from Russia.
About 200 of the soldiers — about an armored battalion — began conducting what the military calls combined arms training at the training ranges on Friday. in Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels, GermanyPentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Garron Garn said in a statement.
This instruction includes basic military tasks such as marksmanship and medical skills, as well as platoon and company level training, and possibly larger exercises involving battalion-sized units. clashing.
The other 200 Ukrainian soldiers have started training on how to refuel and maintain the tanks, Colonel Garn said.
Ministry of Defense officials had said before that approximately 31 tanks would be sent to Germany for use in a training program for Ukrainian troops expected to last 10 to 12 weeks. Combat-ready tanks could reach battlefields in Ukraine by fall, officials said.
Pentagon officials had expressed doubts about sending the Abrams, citing concerns about how Ukraine would maintain the advanced tanks, which require extensive training and maintenance. And officials had said it might take them years to reach Ukrainian battlefields. But Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III eventually came into view that it was necessary to commit to sending American tanks to entice Germany to follow with its coveted Leopard 2 tanks.
Initially, US defense officials said the M1 Abrams tanks would not arrive in Ukraine until next year. But since January, when the Biden administration overturned its longstanding resistance and announced that he would send the tankssenior defense officials have said they want to speed up the deadline.
The start of tank training, led by the 7th Army Training Command, comes a week after President Biden told his American allies he would allow Ukrainian pilots to be trained on American-made F-16 fighter jets, a step towards possibly letting other countries donate their American-made planes to Ukraine.
Ukraine is preparing a major counter-offensive, in hopes of retaking more territory seized by Russia in the early days of the war. As with combat aircraft, the delivery of Abrams tanks and trained crews would take months, too late to affect this plan.