The Pentagon has said it is preparing to expand its training of Ukrainian forces, noting the instruction would focus on different types of weapons and maneuvers. While the US has sought to accelerate its shipment of Abrams main battle tanks to Kiev, training on that platform has yet to begin.
Speaking to reporters for a background briefing on Tuesday, a senior defense official said that in addition to a newly approved weapons package worth more than $2.6 billion, Washington has also “expanded US-led training” to focus on “combined arms and joint maneuver operations.”
Though the official provided few details on the new training, they noted that 4,000 Ukrainian troops had recently completed instruction on the US-made Bradley fighting vehicle and the Stryker armored personnel carrier, both of which have been supplied to Kiev. Since fighting with Russia began last year, the Pentagon has trained more than 7,000 Ukrainian soldiers in total, many of them in Germany, the official added.
However, asked about training for the M1 Abrams tank – which Washington has also agreed to ship to Ukraine despite initial reluctance – the official said it had not even started, as the military is “still working on the equipment procurement.” They could not provide an exact timeline for when it might begin, but hoped it could move forward “relatively soon.”
After initially refusing to send battle tanks, President Joe Biden reversed course earlier this year when Germany said it would provide its own Leopard tanks, opting to ship 31 units. Deliveries were originally set to take up to two years, prompting the Pentagon to again change course and offer an older variant of the same weapon, which could now reach the battlefield by the fall.
The US has also instructed Ukrainian troops on a variety of other weapons systems – including the Patriot missile defense battery on US territory – and held “combined-arms” training at bases in Germany.
The new weapons package announced in conjunction with the expanded training includes additional artillery rounds, rockets, missiles and other ammunition, 30mm gun trucks, grenade launchers, and Javelin anti-tank systems. The aid brought total US military assistance to Ukraine to nearly $36 billion since Biden took office in 2021.