As soon as next week, about 100 Ukrainian troops will begin training at Ft. Sill, OK, to use the Patriot air defense system, which is expected to take several months, according to the Pentagon.
The move follows a U.S. announcement in December to send one Patriot battery to Ukraine.
Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, said efforts will be made to accelerate the training but stressed it would not be shortchanged.
“These instructors will be the same instructors that already conduct training for U.S., allied and partner forces that go through Ft. Sill,” he said. “Once the training is complete, then the Patriot will be delivered so that then they can employ it. We'll continue to work as quickly as we can.”
Ryder said the training, first reported by the Washington Post, will cover not only the operation but also the maintenance of the Patriot system.
“If I give you a piece of equipment, I’m simply giving you a piece of equipment,” he said. “But if I give you the equipment and I give you the training, I now give you a capability.”
The Pentagon last week announced its largest aid package to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion last February, a $2.85 billion package that included 50 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, anti-tank missiles and additional ammunition.
Ryder said the United States and Ukraine would “keep the dialog open” in terms of future training for Ukrainians on U.S. soil.
“The training school for U.S. and allied forces on Patriots is at Ft. Sill already,” he said. “So, they’ll be falling in on an existing capability in order to expedite the training and, again, get the system back into Ukraine so that they can use it to defend themselves.”