Pentagon to train Ukrainians on Patriot missile system in Oklahoma

Pentagon to train Ukrainians on Patriot missile system in Oklahoma

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The Pentagon is planning to bring Ukrainian troops to the United States for training on the Patriot missile defense system, a US official with direct knowledge of the development said on Tuesday, signaling the latest test by the Biden administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threshold for intervention. western in conflict.

The training will take place at Fort Sill, a sprawling facility covering roughly 145 square miles southwest of Oklahoma City, and could begin as soon as this month, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan ahead of an official announcement. The base is home to the U.S. Army’s basic Patriot missile defense training program and another designed to teach U.S. personnel field artillery maneuvers.

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

The Pentagon is preparing to send the Patriot missile system to Ukraine

On Tuesday morning, Pentagon officials declined to discuss the plan. But a senior defense official, Laura Cooper, said last week that training on the advanced US system would begin in January and that it would be several months before Ukrainian soldiers are qualified to use it in combat.

“Patriot is not an instant capability,” said Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense. “But we will start that training very soon.”

A Pentagon spokesman, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said last week that details were still being worked out.

“I can tell you that we are exploring a variety of options to include possible training here in the US, overseas, or a combination of the two,” he said.

Pentagon predicts major expansion of Ukraine’s military training

The plan to conduct the training at Fort Sill, first reported by CNN, comes as the Biden administration makes a series of moves to transform the Ukrainian military from a force primarily capable of halting Russian advances to one that can conduct more aggressive operations. successful targeted attacks. to recover the occupied Ukrainian territory.

Senior US officials have said the Pentagon is 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 US and Germany will send armored fighting vehicles to Ukraine

Biden in recent weeks has also approved a broad 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 of ammunition to support them. It’s an effort, Cooper said last week, intended to “change the dynamic” on the battlefield and enable Ukrainian forces to make greater progress along the front lines of the war, which have remained largely static for months. new.

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

Understanding the Russia-Ukraine conflict

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