Pentagon to create ‘Ukraine command’ – media
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 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.