Credit…Brendan Hoffman for The New York Times
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is expanding the training that the US military provides to Ukrainian troops, with plans to more than double the number of forces it instructs at a base in Germany, according to two US officials.
The expanded training, which officials said President Biden had approved this week, would enable American instructors to train a Ukrainian battalion — about 600 to 800 troops — each month, beginning early next year, the officials said.
That is a major increase in the overall number of Ukrainians the United States trains outside the country — now averaging about 300 troops a month — in addition to a revamping of the training that they will receive. Since the war started in February, the United States has trained 3,100 Ukrainian soldiers, mostly in small groups, on specific weapons like 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 have used the launchers to devastating effect, hitting targets far behind the lines, including ammunition depots, command posts and bridges.
Under the expanded program, American trainers will instruct larger groups of Ukrainian soldiers in more advanced battlefield tactics, including “collective training,” like coordinating ground infantry troop maneuvers with artillery support. CNN reported last month that the Biden administration was considering the expanded training.
The new training regimen is set to take place at a US Army base in Grafenwoehr, Germany, where the Pentagon conducts its own combined arms training. The base is also home to the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials have been wary of pulling too many troops off the front lines at any given time for specialized weapons training. But with winter slowing the tempo 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 respects aim to resume the instruction that American Special Forces and National Guard trainers, along with instructors from other NATO countries, regularly provided Ukrainian troops before the war began.
From 2015 to early 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 instructors before the war began.
Months after the war began, the United States and other Western countries begin training Ukrainian forces in Germany and Poland.
In addition, Britain started a program to provide military training in Britain to 10,000 Ukrainian Army recruits and staff members, an effort that aims to help bolster local resistance to the Russian invasion. The initiative, announced in June by Boris Johnson, the prime minister at the time, 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 in after Britain requested help.
Adm. Sir Tony Radakin, Britain’s chief of defense, said on Wednesday that the initial goal of training 10,000 Ukrainian recruits had nearly been met. “This is significant,” he said in a speech in London.
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