US plans to more than double number of Ukrainian troops it trains in Germany: live updates

Recognition…Brendan Hoffman for the New York Times

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon is expanding the training the US military offers to Ukrainian troops with plans to more than double the number of forces it trains at a base in Germany, according to two US officials.

The expanded training, which officials said President Biden approved this week, would allow American instructors to train a Ukrainian battalion — about 600 to 800 troops — each month beginning early next year, officials said.

That’s a significant increase in the total number of Ukrainians the United States is training outside the country — now averaging about 300 soldiers per month — in addition to an overhaul of the training they will receive. Since the war began in February, the United States has trained 3,100 Ukrainian soldiers, mostly in small groups, on specific weapons such as artillery systems, according to Defense Department statistics.

The Pentagon has trained 610 Ukrainian soldiers in the use of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, an advanced rocket launcher. Ukrainian troops used the launchers to devastating effect, hitting targets far behind the lines, including ammunition depots, command posts and bridges.

Under the expanded program, American instructors will train larger groups of Ukrainian soldiers in more advanced battlefield tactics, including “collective training” such as coordinating maneuvers of ground infantry troops with artillery support. CNN reported last month that the Biden administration was considering expanded training.

The new training program is scheduled to take place at a US Army base in Grafenwoehr, Germany, where the Pentagon conducts its own combined arms training. The base also houses the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials have been wary of withdrawing too many troops from the front at once for special weapons training. However, as winter slows the pace of fighting in many parts of the combat zone, officials said the coming months would provide a window.

Military officials said the expanded training would in many ways aim to resume classes that American special forces and National Guard instructors, along with instructors from other NATO countries, regularly provided to Ukrainian troops before the start of the war.

From 2015 to earlier this year, American military instructors trained more than 27,000 Ukrainian soldiers at the Yavoriv Combat Training Center in western Ukraine near the city of Lviv, Pentagon officials said. The United States withdrew 150 military trainers before the war began.

Months after the war began, the United States and other Western countries began training Ukrainian forces in Germany and Poland.

In addition, Britain launched a military training program for 10,000 Ukrainian Army recruits and personnel in Britain, an effort aimed at strengthening local resistance to the Russian invasion. The initiative, announced by then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson in June, began with more than 1,000 British soldiers from the 11th Security Force Assistance Brigade, which specializes in foreign training.

Other nations including Canada, Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden joined after Britain asked for help.

Adm. Sir Tony Radakin, Britain’s defense chief, said on Wednesday the original target of training 10,000 Ukrainian recruits has almost been reached. “This is significant,” he said in a speech in London.

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