Ukrainian Troops Will Be Trained On Patriot Air Defense Systems U.S. Officials Say
U.S. officials say Ukrainian troops will be trained on Patriot air defense systems. According to three officials in the defense department, the United States is planning to start training Ukrainian troops on the Patriot air defense system at Fort Sill, which is located in Oklahoma, later this month.
The Pentagon made the announcement on Tuesday that Ukrainian military personnel are going to start receiving training on the Patriot missile system in the United States as soon as the following week.
The advanced air defense system will be operated and maintained by the United States military at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, which is also the location of the training program that will be carried out by the United States.
Fort Sill is one of the four locations where the Army conducts its basic training. It is also the location of the field artillery school for the Army, which has been training members of the military for more than a century.
CNN was the first newsoutlet to break the story early on Tuesday morning. At the time, two US officials familiar with the situation told CNN that a decision had been made to start training in the US.
During the conflict, the United States has trained Ukrainian troops in Europe; however, the decision to conduct patriot training on American soil could further inflame relations with Moscow. This is due to the fact that Russia's President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly cautioned western nations against becoming more involved in the conflict.
The training process and eventual deployment of the defensive weapons system, which Kyiv had long requested, will take months. However, once it is completed, it should provide better protection against Russian missile attacks, which have devastated the country's infrastructure. Kyiv had long requested this defensive weapons system.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Pentagon named Brigadier General Pat Ryder told reporters that anywhere from 90 to 100 Ukrainian soldiers would be arriving in Oklahoma for Patriot training as soon as the following week.
He was unable to provide an exact time frame for how long the training would take, saying only that it would last "several months." Typically, it takes up to a year for US soldiers to be trained on it. He was unable to provide an exact time frame for how long it would take.
Ryder said at Tuesday’s press briefing:
Once fielded, the Patriot… will contribute to Ukraine’s air defense capabilities, and provide another capability to the Ukrainian people to defend themselves against Russia’s ongoing aerial assaults.- Pat Ryder
The previous week, he stated that the United States was considering a number of alternatives for the location of the Patriot missile training, which "could include potential training here in the United States, overseas, or a combination of both." In December, Politico reported that any training that took place in the United States would most likely take place at Fort Sill.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Russian ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, stated that the decision to train Ukrainian servicemen on the system in the United States is a confirmation of Washington's "de facto involvement in the Ukrainian conflict."
When Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Washington, DC and met with President Joe Biden in late December, the US announced that the Patriot missile system would be delivered to the country.
CNN first reported that the advanced air defense system would be provided after months of denial due to the significant logistical and training challenges associated with its deployment. However, a senior administration official told CNN last month that the "reality of what is happening" in Ukraine compelled them to provide the system.
The United States will provide one Patriot battery, which will include power generation equipment, computers, an engagement control system, and up to eight launchers. The battery is operated by approximately 90 soldiers and requires months of training.
Though the Patriot is widely regarded as one of the most advanced and effective air defense systems, experts warn that it is "not a game changer" due to its limited range and the time it will take Ukrainians to deploy it.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, former commander of US Army Europe said:
These systems don’t pick up and move around the battlefield. You put them in place somewhere that defends your most strategic target, like a city, like Kyiv. If anyone thinks this is going to be a system that is spread across a 500-mile border between Ukraine and Russia, they just don’t know how the system operates.- Mark Hertling
Nonetheless, in the aftermath of the news that Ukraine would soon be operating its own system, Russian officials warned of "unpredictable consequences," escalating the threat.