Ukrainian troops are improving rapidly, but there are key areas that will need help from the US military in the coming weeks, said Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, head of the US military in Europe.
This will include training Ukrainians to better:
* Avoid and respond to artillery fire.
* Carry out electronic warfare.
* Support for wounded in combat.
U.S. soldiers will be deployed to Ukraine in the spring and begin training four Ukrainian National Guard companies, but this is only the latest move as the United States continues to strengthen its presence in Europe in response to the conflict caused by the Russia in eastern Ukraine.
Russia has denied supplying pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine who have taken control of several towns and villages. Hodges compared Russian denials to late-night comedy skits.
âIt’s almost like a Saturday Night Live skit, except they’re completely serious about it. But they say it so much, when in fact the only foreign troops in Ukraine are Russians,â Hodges said. ‘addressing Pentagon reporters via a video feed. from Wiesbaden, Germany.
The U.S. military has already provided much needed light countermortar radar along with other systems to detect rockets and other artillery, Hodges said.
âThey suffered a lot of casualties from heavy artillery and rockets,â Hodges said.
Electronic warfare has also proven to be problematic; Hodges said knowing the location of the enemy doesn’t help much if you can’t communicate it.
âThe EW environment is very heavily contested,â Hodges said. “Their opponents have exceptional jamming abilities.”
Hodges spent some time in Kiev, visiting a military hospital there. The capacity was found to be insufficient for the number of casualties, he said, and although the US military could not repair the capacity, medics could be called upon to take advantage of their experience on the ground in Iraq. and in Afghanistan.
âThe skills of unit medics in the US and other Western armies have improved so much over the past 10 years, I think we can help provide some of that training for Ukrainians,â Hodges said.
Despite these concerns, Hodges said the Ukrainians had come a long way even last year. He cited the one-and-a-half-week 2014 multinational Rapid Trident training exercises in Ukraine last September, when Ukraine felt it could only spare cadets from its military academy.
âThis year we have three battalions of [Ukraine’s] Ministry of the Interior, as well as the withdrawal of officers and NCOs, “Hodges said.” This shows a maturation and professionalization of the military and the ministry. “
The army still plans to add 100 armored vehicles to Europe and will send around 3,000 soldiers from the 1st Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division to several European countries in March. They will support Operation Atlantic Resolve, which the Pentagon describes as an American operation. commitment to reassure its NATO allies.
The United States has stepped up training exercises in a number of other countries bordering Russia and the Black Sea, from Estonia to Bulgaria. Hodges said he hopes this will deter future Russian aggression which he says is designed to redraw international borders and undermine NATO.