Pentagon to Set Up New Military Command in Germany to Arm Ukraine, Report Says
08:33 GMT 30.09.2022 (Updated: 12:44 GMT 13.04.2023)
© AP Photo / Charles DharapakThis March 27, 2008, file photo, shows the Pentagon in Washington. The Pentagon said Tuesday, July 6, 2021, that it is canceling a cloud-computing contract with Microsoft that could eventually have been worth $10 billion and will instead pursue a deal with both Microsoft and Amazon. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
© AP Photo / Charles Dharapak
The US pledged an additional $1.1 billion in aid to Ukraine on September 28, with the latest package provided under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which funds contracts to purchase weapons and equipment. The vast amount of weapons from the West has prompted Moscow to classify the Ukraine crisis as a proxy conflict with NATO.
The Pentagon is gearing up to overhaul the military training and assistance system it set up jointly with its allies for Ukraine, The New York Times reported.
The operation would be placed under a single new command based in Germany, several military and administration officials were cited as saying. A high-ranking US general would be leading the entire set-up, according to the proposals which were ostensibly recently unveiled to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin by Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, commander of United States European Command.
The outlined changes are currently being reviewed by Austin and his top aides, according to officials cited by the outlet, with a final decision to be expected in the coming weeks. The White House and the Pentagon were reportedly inclined to accept the new approach.
Train & Equip Aid
The proposal to lend a formal structure to the mission set up after Russia started its special military operation in Ukraine on February 24 is purportedly modeled on US train-and-assist operations carried out in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past two decades. Specifically, it began to take shape this year under Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli’s predecessor, Gen. Tod D. Wolters, and was subsequently ‘calibrated’ after General Cavoli took over in July, added the publication.
The new command would report to General Cavoli, with about 300 people dedicated to the mission, stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany - the US Army’s headquarters in Europe. The command would implement decisions made by the US-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group, set up by the West for military assistance to Kiev. Senior military officials from the over 40 member nations met at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels on September 28 to discuss how to ramp up production of arms and ammunition for Ukraine.
© AP Photo / Evgeniy MaloletkaFILE - Ukrainian servicemen prepare to fire at Russian positions from a U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer
FILE - Ukrainian servicemen prepare to fire at Russian positions from a U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer
© AP Photo / Evgeniy Maloletka
Over the past few months, Lt. Gen. Christopher T. Donahue, who led the US evacuation from Afghanistan in August 2021, coordinated a greater part of the military assistance to Ukraine together with his staff from his forward headquarters in Wiesbaden.
However, the commanding general of the US Army’s 18th Airborne Corps, who has been helping oversee training for Ukraine’s military, is scheduled to return to Fort Bragg, N.C., in the next month, according to Defense Department officials. Hence, the need for a new leader for the overhauled command structure, the report clarified.
As it is, much of the training of Ukrainian soldiers on US weapons systems is currently taking place in Germany. Wiesbaden would be the focus of the newly-revamped US-led training and assistance, overseeing formal instruction at training ranges in Germany as well as technical support centers set up in neighboring countries, such as Poland.
© Photo : Sgt. Anthony Jones (US Army)/Ukrainian Defence Ministry Ukrainian troops being 'trained' to handle their heavy machinegun by a Polish instructor, March 2017
Ukrainian troops being 'trained' to handle their heavy machinegun by a Polish instructor, March 2017
© Photo : Sgt. Anthony Jones (US Army)/Ukrainian Defence Ministry
While the Pentagon is still mulling the reported changes, it has already taken steps towards a consolidation of the train-and-equip mission over the summer, added the outlet. A cell of logistics specialists - the International Donor Coordination Center – along with officers from more than two dozen countries was relocated to Wiesbaden from Stuttgart, Germany. The group is believed to be pivotal in matching Ukraine’s military requests with donations from more than 40 nations.
Besides the fact that Pentagon officials are still reviewing the new plan, the proposal has not been publicly discussed to avoid feeding into the narrative that the United States and NATO are fighting a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine, added insiders.
Coming after the Pentagon pledged an additional $1.1 billion in aid to Ukraine on September 28 for the procurement of weapons and equipment under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, the newly streamlined command is to signal the Joe Biden administration’s long-term commitment to pump resources into propping up the Kiev regime, underscored current and former senior American officials.
The latest military aid package to Ukraine is a combination of immediate shipments from stockpiles as well as contracts for weapons to be delivered over the next three years, and includes funding for 18 more High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and their ammunition.
Commenting on the reported overhaul of the command to arm and train Ukraine, Adm. James G. Stavridis, a former supreme allied commander for Europe, was quoted as saying:
“This recognizes the reality of the important mission of security assistance to our Ukrainian partners. This will also create a formal security structure that our allies and partners can adhere to in terms of getting their equipment and training into the hands of the Ukrainians.”
Gen. David H. Petraeus, a former top US commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, agreed that the reported changes were “a very important and very appropriate initiative, given the magnitude of the US effort and the contributions of our NATO allies.”
Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, added in an email, “We are continuously assessing and refining our internal posture and processes to ensure we provide Ukraine with timely, relevant security assistance to meet its most urgent needs on the battlefield and to build its enduring strength to deter future Russian aggression.”
Moscow has maintained since the start of its special military operation that the vast amount of weapons pouring into Ukraine from the West classifies the crisis as a proxy conflict with NATO.
The Kremlin has repeatedly slammed Washington and its allies over their continued arms deliveries to the Kiev regime, pointing to the danger they pose in escalating the crisis and facilitating weapons smuggling.