US involvement in war in Ukraine grows with troops to be trained in Oklahoma

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The Pentagon plans to bring Ukrainian troops to the United States to train on the Patriot missile defense system, U.S. officials said Tuesday, signaling the Biden administration’s latest test on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s doorstep for Western intervention in the conflict.

The training will take place at Fort Sill, a sprawling facility covering about 145 square miles southwest of Oklahoma City, and could begin as early as next week. The base is home to the U.S. Army’s Patriot Missile Defense Basic Training Program and another program designed to teach American personnel field artillery maneuvers.

The move follows President Biden’s decision last month to approve the transfer of a Patriot system to Ukraine, which for weeks has endured Russian missile attacks on its energy grid and other vital infrastructure. Germany announced last week that it would also send a Patriot battery to bolster Ukraine’s air defenses as millions face repeated power cuts that have cut out heat, light and power. Internet access for large parts of the country.

Pentagon prepares to send Patriot missile system to Ukraine

A Pentagon spokesman, Brig. General Patrick Ryder told reporters on Tuesday that the training will prepare about 90 to 100 Ukrainian soldiers to “operate, maintain and sustain” the defensive system through instruction that will take “several months”. That’s the same number required to operate a Patriot battery, which typically includes eight launchers each capable of carrying between four and 16 ready-to-fire missiles, depending on the type of ammunition.

US troops typically receive about a year of training on the Patriot before using it in the field. The Pentagon is looking for ways to reduce this delay for Ukrainian forces, given the urgency need to educate them and send them back home.

“We certainly don’t want to do anything that jeopardizes their ability to keep fighting,” Ryder said. “But ultimately it’s a decision the Ukrainians have to make, in terms of how many soldiers they can afford to leave for training.”

Building on Fort Sill, where a school is already established, will help the United States “accelerate” training under the direction of U.S. Army personnel, Ryder said. Working separately from American students, the Ukrainian soldiers will receive instruction in classrooms, on the Patriot system itself and in a simulation lab, he said.

The Pentagon has no other plans to bring Ukrainian forces to the United States to train on additional weapons systems, Ryder added, though he wouldn’t rule out the possibility if a future need arises. felt. The administration, he said, remains “flexible”.

Putin boiled over the involvement of NATO countries in the war, calling out the efforts of the United States and its allies to train and arm Ukraine for acts of complicity. He repeatedly warned that if Russia felt threatened by outside forces, it would not hesitate to retaliate. For its part, the Kremlin has turned to other US adversaries, Iran and North Korea, to help it replenish its stockpiles of weapons as Western sanctions have strained its military industry. defense.

First used in combat during the Gulf War to eliminate Iraqi Scud missiles, the Patriot system relies on sophisticated radar to detect incoming threats, including cruise and ballistic missiles, and launches long-range missiles. scope to intercept them. Typically deployed from the back of a truck, it requires a crew of at least three soldiers to operate, with significant backup needed to keep it functional.

Pentagon plans major expansion of Ukrainian military training

The plan to conduct the training at Fort Sill, first reported by CNN, comes as the Biden administration takes a series of steps to transform Ukraine’s military from a force primarily capable of stopping the Russian advance. into a force capable of mounting more successful offensive operations aimed at recovering occupied Ukrainian territory.

Senior US officials said the Pentagon was 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.

The United States and Germany will send armored fighting vehicles to Ukraine

In recent weeks, Biden has also endorsed a large expansion of arms transfers to Ukraine, with the United States agreeing to send heavily armored Bradley fighting vehicles, self-propelled artillery and thousands of rounds to support them. . It’s an effort, Cooper said last week, intended to “change the dynamics” on the battlefield and allow Ukrainian forces to advance further along the front lines of the war, which have remained mostly static for decades. month.

The package approved on Friday included more than $3 billion in military assistance, the largest transfer since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. The United States has approved the transfer of $24.2 billion worth of weapons since the invasion.

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