Ukrainian soldiers began training on US Abrams tanks, Pentagon says
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 Friday conducting what the military calls combined arms training at the Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels training ranges in Germany, spokesman Lt. Col. Garron Garn said. from the Pentagon, in a press release.
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.
Defense Ministry officials had previously said about 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 concluded that a commitment to send American tanks was necessary 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 overthrew its longstanding resistance and announced it would send in the tanks, senior defense officials have said they want to speed up the timeline.
The start of tank training, led by the Army’s 7th Training Command, comes a week after President Biden told his US allies he would allow Ukrainian pilots to train on tanks. American-made F-16 fighter jets, a step toward possibly letting other countries donate their American-made planes to Ukraine.
Ukraine is preparing a major counter-offensive, hoping to retake more territory seized by Russia at the start of the war. As with combat aircraft, the delivery of Abrams tanks and trained crews would take months, too late to affect this plan.