US Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley
Pentagon Working to Form New Command
To Coordinate Arming and Training Ukraine
WASHINGTON (September 29, 2022) — The Pentagon is working to form a new command to coordinate arming and training Ukraine, according to two US officials, in an effort to streamline what was a largely ad hoc process rapidly created in the wake of Russia’s invasion.
The new command, which would be based at Wiesbaden in Germany, would fall under Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the commander of US European Command, which has led the multinational effort to train Ukrainian military forces on advanced Western weapons and deliver those weapons to the border with Ukraine, one official said. It is expected to be led by a 3-star general.
But the US has been careful in how it discusses the plans, which the officials emphasized is not a major change to the current system of organizing and administering shipments. Officials are careful not to give Russian President Vladimir Putin a reason to claim the US is party to the conflict, especially given the elevated rhetoric coming from the Kremlin about the threat of nuclear weapons usage.
The New York Times was first to report about the new command.
The Biden administration has openly signaled its ongoing and long-term support for Ukraine. This week, the Pentagon announced another $1.1 billion in additional military aid to Ukraine, which a senior defense official called a “multiyear investment” in the country’s defenses.
Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion in late-February, the US has committed more than $16 billion in security assistance to Ukraine. Much of the aid is meant for the demands of the current fight, but increasingly, the administration has also focused on Ukraine’s medium- and long-term needs.
Since the first weeks of the war, the US has looked for ways to quickly and effectively translate Ukrainian requests for different types of equipment into shipments of weapons, turning a process that normally takes weeks or more into a matter of days.
As Ukrainian forces proved they could stand up to the Russian invasion, and as Putin’s aspirational quick victory turned into a bruising war, the number of countries willing to provide security assistance to Ukraine grew.
The US and its allies and partners established the Ukraine Contact Group, consisting of more than 40 countries meeting monthly, to coordinate shipments of weapons and equipment into Ukraine.
The new command would create a more formal structure within the military to manage the shipments, officials said. Its anticipated location in central Germany also places it close to many of the training areas used by the US and Western countries to teach Ukrainian forces how to employ Western weaponry.
The command would also work closely with the International Donor Coordination Center (IDCC), which has played a critical role in handling the logistics necessary to match the need for Ukrainian weapons with the available stocks of potential donor countries.
Pentagon to Create ‘Ukraine Command’
Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base,
Germany, September 8, 2022. © US Air Force
MOSCOW (September 30, 2022) — The Pentagon is working to create a new military command devoted to arming and training Ukrainian soldiers, US officials have told multiple media outlets, suggesting the effort will effectively “overhaul” the current process for weapons transfers to Kiev.
The command would be based in Wiesbaden, Germany – where the US Army keeps its European headquarters – and be made up of 300 staffers led by General Christopher Cavoli, who heads up the military’s European Command, according to unnamed officials cited by the New York Times and CNN on Thursday.
“The changes, which aim to give a formal structure to what has been improvised since the war’s onset, are roughly modeled on US train-and-assist efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past two decades,” the Times reported.
While the new unit would look to make major alterations to the current train-and-equip program for Kiev, Wiesbaden will remain a key component in the scheme, as most Ukrainian troops currently being instructed on American weapons are doing so in or near the city.
Since Russia sent troops into the neighboring country in late February, US military aid to Ukraine has largely been managed from Germany and Poland by Lieutenant General Christopher Donahue, who also oversaw the chaotic evacuation of US forces from Afghanistan last year. However, Donahue and his staff are set to return home next month, creating the need for a specialized command oriented toward training and arming Ukrainian troops.
The proposal for the new unit was initially floated earlier in the conflict by General Tod Wolters, with Cavoli ‘fine-tuning’ the idea after taking his place at EUCOM in July, according to the Times.
In late August, the Wall Street Journal similarly reported that Washington was looking to appoint a general to lead the arm-and-train program in Ukraine, suggesting the initiative could receive an official mission name, as well as “long-term, dedicated funding” from the US government. The outlet added that the changes would mark a “shift from the largely ad hoc effort to provide training and assistance to the Ukrainians for years.”
The new military unit will reportedly be
modeled on “train-and-assist efforts
in Iraq and Afghanistan” over the last 20 years
The US has authorized nearly $17 billion in arms transfers to Ukraine’s military so far this year, with the vast majority of that aid approved since hostilities escalated in February.
Though large quantities of gear and ammunition have come directly from existing stockpiles, the Pentagon is also working with arms contractors to manufacture weapons specifically for Kiev, including 18 brand-new High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) announced earlier this week – one of the longest-range platforms provided by Washington to date.
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