The US military has launched an expanded training program of Ukrainian troops in Germany, in an effort to get a battalion of about 500 troops back on the battlefield to fend off Russian forces in the next five to eight weeks.
Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, who was on a flight from Washington to Europe, said the training began on Sunday.
About 500 soldiers will go through the initial version of training at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany for five or six weeks, he said.
He said there is a full set of weapons and equipment for them to use in Germany.
“It’ll take a bit of time,” Milley said. “Five, six, seven, eight weeks, who knows. We’ll see what happens here. But in terms of the criticality of it, the need is now.”
“We want the Ukrainians to have a capability to successfully defend their country,” he said.
“Ukraine is doing nothing more than defending itself, and they are trying to liberate Russian-occupied Ukraine,” he added.
The goal, Milley said, is for all the incoming weapons and equipment to be delivered to Ukraine so that the newly trained forces will be able to use them "sometime before the spring rains show up. That would be ideal."
Milley said he will travel to Germany to make sure the training is on track and whether anything else is needed, and also to ensure that it will line up well with the equipment deliveries.
The US has already trained more than 3,100 Ukrainian troops on how to use and maintain certain weapons and other equipment, including howitzers, armored vehicles and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).
The training comes as the United States and its Western allies have been supplying Ukraine with an ever-growing list of weapons, since Russia launched what it calls a special military operation in Ukraine in February last year.
Earlier this month, the administration of President Joe Biden approved the single largest transfer of weapons to Ukraine worth $3 billion.
Among the weapons in the US package are 50 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and motorized howitzer artillery.
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