The first class of 635 Ukrainian fighters have completed a five-week advanced U.S. training course in Germany, the Pentagon said Friday.
The training involved sophisticated combat skills and armored vehicles that will be critical in the spring offensive against Russia.
The completion of the first class coincided with a visit to the base by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said a second group, consisting of 710 Ukrainians, is now on site at the Grafenwoehr training area.
The first training class arrived at Grafenwoehr on January 15. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley had said at the time that the goal was to have the Ukrainian battalion battlefield-ready in the next five to eight weeks, while Ryder had said, “[This] is a logical next step in our ongoing training efforts, which began in 2014, to build the Ukrainian armed forces capacity.”
The course has prepared the Ukrainians to take Bradley fighting vehicles and M109 Paladins into battle, according to the Pentagon. The Bradleys and Paladins are two of the many armored vehicles and tanks that the U.S. and allies have pledged to the Ukrainians to help them barrel through entrenched Russian troop lines.
According to Ryder, the second Ukrainian class will train on the Paladin—a self-propelled howitzer that runs on tracks rather than wheels—and on the Stryker armored personnel carrier.
The training, which is being done by the 7th Army Training Command, includes classroom instruction, field work and larger combat exercises.
“This is not a run of the mill rotation,” Milley said of the Ukrainians’ training. “This is one of those moments in time where if you want to make a difference, this is it.”