Ukraine troops to get training from American combat teams

A Ukrainian artilleryman trains on an M109 self-propelled howitzer at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, May 11, 2022. Soldiers from the U.S. and Norway trained Armed Forces of Ukraine artillerymen on the howitzers as part of security assistance packages from their respective countries.

The Defense Department said that the U.S. has provided both equipment and training to help Ukraine defend its sovereignty against an illegal invasion by Russia that began in February, but now the Pentagon will provide Ukrainian soldiers with combined arms and joint maneuver training as well.

“[This] is a logical next step in our ongoing training efforts, which began in 2014, to build the Ukrainian armed forces capacity,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said during a briefing Thursday, December 15, 2022. “While there’s an understandable focus on the equipment being provided to Ukraine, training is and has been essential to ensuring Ukraine has the skilled forces necessary to better defend themselves.”

Soldiers from U.S. Army Europe and Africa Command’s 7th Army Training Command will provide the combined arms and joint maneuver training, Ryder said.

Ryder said he expects that the Ukrainian training will happen at U.S. ranges in Germany beginning in January.

A Ukrainian artillery soldier trains on an M109 self-propelled howitzer as part of a security assistance package from the U.S. and Norway armed forces. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Spencer Rhodes, 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team)

The Ukrainians will determine which service members from Ukraine’s armed forces will participate in the training, Ryder said, but it’s expected about 500 Ukrainians per month will participate.

“What you can expect to see is that we will … bring in battalion-sized units, and it will begin with things like live fire exercises, followed by squad, platoon, and company level training that will then culminate in battalion-level maneuver training,” said Ryder. “Importantly, it will also include battalion headquarters staff training.”

Training, he said, will begin with classroom exercises and then shift to practical applications in the field beginning with work amongst the lowest-level units and working up to larger-unit training.

“You’ve heard Secretary Austin talk about that the equipment is important, but it’s how to take that equipment and apply it in the field in a way that’s going to enable you to do combined arms and achieve decisive effects on the battlefield,” he said. “This training will contribute to that.”

The U.S. has already been involved in providing training to the Ukrainian armed forces, in particular with regard to equipment the U.S. is providing or has committed to providing.

Since April, Ryder said, about 3,100 Ukrainians have been trained.

Ryder also said it’s not expected that additional U.S. troops will need to go to Europe to become involved in the new training.

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