US Training Of Ukrainian Troops In Oklahoma: The Pentagon stated on Tuesday that training for Ukrainian troops on the Patriot missile system would start as early as next week.
The program will be held at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, where the US keeps its training sessions on operating and maintaining the advanced air defense system.
The Army’s field artillery school has been educating soldiers for more than a century and is located at Fort Sill, one of the four primary training sites for the Army.
Two US officials with knowledge of the situation told CNN early on Tuesday that a decision had been taken to start training in the US.
The US has trained Ukrainian troops in Europe during the conflict. Still, the decision to hold patriot training on American soil may worsen relations with Moscow because Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, has repeatedly warned western countries against getting involved in the conflict any further.
Although the training process and eventual deployment of the defensive weapons system, which Kyiv had long requested, will take months and have no immediate influence on the course of the war, once they are finished, they should offer better defense against Russian missile attacks that have severely damaged the nation’s infrastructure.
According to Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the spokesman for the Pentagon, said 90 to 100 Ukrainian soldiers might be in Oklahoma as early as next week for the Patriot training.
He could not provide a specific period for how long the movement would go, simply stating that it would be “several months” (US soldiers are generally taught on it for up to a year).
At the press event on Tuesday, Ryder stated that once deployed, the Patriot “would contribute to Ukraine’s air defense capabilities and provide another tool to the Ukrainian people to protect themselves against Russia’s continued aerial assaults.”
He stated last week that the US was considering a range of alternatives for Patriot missile training locations “to include potential training here in the US, overseas, or a combination of both.” Politico stated in December that Fort Sill would likely be the site of any US-based training.
Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the US, said in a statement on Tuesday that Washington’s “de facto engagement in the Ukrainian crisis” is confirmed by the decision to train Ukrainian forces on the system in the US.
The US Initially Refused To Send Patriots
Image Source: pbs
When Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Washington, DC, and met with President Joe Biden in late December, the US announced that it was providing Ukraine with the Patriot missile system.
After being rejected for months due to the significant logistical and training problems involved in installing it, CNN was the first to disclose that the advanced air defense system would be given.
The “reality of what is going on” in Ukraine, a senior administration official told CNN last month, ultimately compelled them to offer the system.
The US supplies one Patriot battery of up to eight launchers, computers, a power-generating apparatus, and an engagement control system. About 90 soldiers operate the battery, and training for it takes months.
The Patriot is widely regarded as one of the most sophisticated and effective air defense systems. Still, experts have cautioned that due to its limited range and the time it will take for Ukrainians to be able to use it, it is “not a game-changer.”
The former commander of the US Army in Europe and retired Army Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling told CNN that these devices “don’t pick up and move around the battlefield.” “You position them to protect your most important strategic goal, such as a city like Kyiv.
Anyone who believes that this system would span the 500-mile border between Russia and Ukraine is simply unaware of how the system works.
However, after learning that Ukraine would soon run its system, Russian officials issued yet another escalation threat, warning of “unpredictable repercussions.”
According to Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, in December, “many specialists, including those outside, questioned the rationality of such a measure which would lead to an escalation of the war and increase the risk of directly dragging the US Army into combat.”
The US is not the only one giving the Ukrainians a sophisticated weapon; Germany recently declared it was delivering Ukraine a second Patriot missile system from its stock.
Tuesday, Ryder lacked information regarding Germany’s plans for handling Patriot system training for Ukraine and whether Berlin would deliver its system before the US system’s activity was finished.
He added that the previously mentioned combined arms training program for Ukrainian battalions in Europe would start as early as next week and “would not require a major or any increase in US trainers” deploying to Europe.
The US provided $2.85 billion worth of material to Ukraine this week, including 50 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, 500 TOW anti-tank missiles, and tens of thousands of rounds of 25mm ammunition. This was the US’ most oversized aid delivery to Ukraine since the war started.
According to two senior US officials who spoke to CNN, the new equipment sent to Ukraine represents a “substantial” improvement over what the US had previously provided. This reflects the military of Ukraine as the conflict approaches its one-year mark.
According to Ryder, the “international reaction” in weaponry and training will “provide Ukraine an opportunity to shift the dynamic on the battlefield and gain momentum, and defend not only their territory but hopefully take back territory,” he told reporters on Friday.
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