Ukraine Situation Report: U.S. Is Training Ukrainians In Germany
The reunion between members of the Florida Army National Guard and Ukrainian troops comes over two months after their evacuation just before Russia invaded.
Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby confirmed U.S. troops are again training Ukrainians but at a new, undisclosed location in Germany.
The Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine (JMTGU) previously operated at the Yavoriv Combat Training Center in western Ukraine with members of the Florida Army National Guard’s Task Force Gator, 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
Part of the 7th Army Training Command, JMTGU trained Ukrainian troops on many of the shoulder-fired weapons like the FGM-148 Javelin, FIM-92 Stinger, and others that have seen widespread use against Russian forces. The training mission continued until its evacuation only two weeks before the Russian attack began on February 24.
Russian cruise missiles struck Yavoriv Combat Training Center on March 13, killing at least 35 people and bringing the war within 20 kilometers of the Polish border. You can read about our coverage of that attack here.
Kirby said at a press conference that JMTGU and Canadian troops are training Ukrainians on the 155mm M777 howitzer and other weapons systems included in ongoing western efforts to support Ukrainian forces.
“These efforts build on the initial artillery training that Ukraine’s forces already have received elsewhere and also includes training on radar systems and armored vehicles that have been recently announced as part of security assistance packages,” Kirby said.
It’s not clear where in Germany the training is back underway, but a U.S. base in Bavaria long used for NATO training comes to mind: the Grafenwoehr Training Area.
Seventh Army Training Command’s website describes the Grafenwoehr Training Area as “the U.S. Army’s largest and most sophisticated permanent training area in Europe,” complete with live fire and maneuver ranges capable of supporting small arms, armored operations, artillery, and close air support training.
German website Nordbayern reported Saturday that the Bundeswehr confirmed the M777 training will take place at Grafenwoehr, and nearby residents’ accounts of increased sounds of gunfire and shelling from within the massive facility since the War in Ukraine started seems to corroborate this.
Before heading on into other updates from Ukraine today, The War Zone readers can catch up on our previous rolling coverage here.
Russian cruise missiles again struck the port city of Odesa on Saturday, reportedly hitting and destroying the airport’s runway.
Whether launched from strategic bombers in Russian airspace, ground-based launchers near the Russian border, or from warships in the Black Sea, cruise missile strikes are becoming more frequent in Odesa. Previous attacks have targeted fuel storage facilities and residential buildings.
The latest update from the British Ministry of Defense assesses likely Ukrainian advances against Russian troops near the embattled city of Kharkiv, as well as near the Mykolaiv frontline on the Dnieper River’s north bank.
While the Florida National Guard and others train Ukrainians in Germany, other Army National Guard units are reportedly sending off their equipment to the frontlines. Defense News reported on Friday that five states’ National Guard units were turning over M113 armored personnel carriers as part of an $800 million military aid package to Ukraine. You can read our coverage of all the hardware included in that deal here.
The Department of Defense later tweeted a video of tan-painted M113s and loading aboard trucks at Fort Stewart, Georgia, before their eventual transfer to Ukraine.
Fighting in Eastern Ukraine continued Saturday as Russia’s offensive there meets significant resistance. Footage showed a Ukrainian Mi-8 Hip helicopter firing rockets against Russian positions, notably using the lofted shot technique frequently seen from Russian gunships earlier in the war.
The transport helicopter, firing 122mm S-13 unguided rockets, pops up from an extremely low altitude for the shot before releasing flare countermeasures and diving away back in front of the camera.
We wrote about the tactic designed to counter man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) and its accompanying tradeoff of accuracy for firing range and survivability here.
The chopper is low not only because of the MANPADS threat but also longer-range Russian air defenses like those seen reportedly shooting down a Ukrainian drone over the Donbas on Saturday.
There’s also drone footage, reportedly from Ukraine’s 93rd Mechanized Brigade, of a rocket attack on a Russian command post near Izyum. There are still unconfirmed reports that this attack killed yet another Russian general.
On a broader scale with the war’s status, there is reportedly growing confidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin will use the May 9 Victory Day celebrations as the venue to formally declare war on Ukraine.
The move to formal war and no longer a “special military operation” may serve to further mobilize the country for what increasingly appears will be a drawn-out conflict, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in an interview Saturday.
We will update this post if necessary for the next 24 hours.
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