U.S. to send 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, reversing course significantly

Date:

U.S. to send 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine

  • news by AUN News correspondent
  • Thursday, January 26, 2023
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • Last month, the two countries also said they would send Patriot missile systems to Ukraine to help protect cities.

  • “According to a third senior administration official, the Pentagon does not have enough Abrams tanks in its storage to transfer them to Ukraine. This is another reason to purchase the tanks through contracts rather than deploying them straight from DoD stocks.

  • In addition to the tanks, the DoD is also purchasing eight M88 recovery vehicles, which can free stuck vehicles and repair or replace broken Abrams parts during a conflict.

  • “Because the DoD has trained in combined arms movement tactics, the Abrams and other tanks will be used by Ukrainian troops in their operations.

  • The third senior administration official said these weapons will help Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia over the next few weeks and months, especially in the northern open Donbas region.

Before Biden’s announcement, a senior administration official who asked to remain anonymous said, “You see different countries in the broad coalition we’ve built stepping up to send a strong message of support for our long-term commitment to Ukraine.”

The announcement came after several weeks of talks between American and European leaders, especially with the Germans, who have been against getting their own Leopard 2 tanks for a long time. According to the senior administration official, Biden has spoken with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz several times this month about aiding Ukraine. Last month, the two countries also said they would send Patriot missile systems to Ukraine to help protect cities.

Key people on Biden’s national security team, such as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, often met with their German and European counterparts. Most recently, they did so at a meeting of defense ministers at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, last week.

Top officials from the United States asked Germany to use its Leopard 2 tanks instead of the Abrams because they are more common in Europe and easier for the Ukrainians to use and maintain. But Berlin said no and told Washington quietly that they would only send Leopards if the US sent Abrams.

The president worked with his national security team to approve the Abrams because he knew Ukraine needed Leopards on the battlefield as soon as possible. According to two other American officials, he eventually sent American tanks in response to Austin’s advice.

As ally unity is crucial to him, Biden “understood that Germany would only do Leopards if we did Abrams.” According to one of the officials, Secretary Austin sent a proposal to make it happen.

According to the second American official, Austin chose to deploy an entire battalion when the United States might have sent just one tank to Germany to seal the deal. This shows that the choice wasn’t just a symbolic act but also what the secretary thought was right.

The government in Berlin said on Wednesday that Germany and its European partners planned to send two Leopard 2 tank battalions to Kyiv “immediately.” On Tuesday, POLITICO was one of the first news outlets to report that Biden had made his decision. Poland, Spain, Norway, and Finland will likely be among the countries sending Leopards.

Pentagon officials had been debating whether or not it was the right moment to send the Abrams in public and in private before making their choice. They said the tanks were too complicated for Ukrainian soldiers to learn how to use and fix them quickly on the battlefield.

The Abrams tank is a very complex piece of equipment. It is pricey and challenging to train on. According to my memory, it has a jet engine that uses three gallons of fuel every mile. After a visit to Kyiv, Colin Kahl, the Pentagon’s senior policy official, declared that the system was not the easiest to maintain. It might or might not be the ideal system.

Regarding the difficulties Abrams poses, the administration’s perspective hasn’t altered. But it was decided to buy them now so that Ukrainian forces could operate and maintain them when they reached the battlefield.

Unlike past military aid, the tanks won’t be taken from DoD stockpiles. Instead, the Department of Defense (DoD) will use the money from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative to buy weapons. This indicates that it will be some months before Ukraine receives them.

A second senior administration official added, “There are technical issues with the Abrams, which makes it slightly more difficult than certain systems that we have delivered.” “There are issues with the supply chain that need to be fixed. There are also problems with maintenance and training that need to be fixed.

“That’s why we’re doing it this way, through USAI,” said the spokesperson, “so that we can take the time, not too much, but enough time to make sure that the Ukrainians can use them, maintain them, and keep them in the battle offensively on our own when they get into the field.”

According to a third senior administration official, the Pentagon does not have enough Abrams tanks in its storage to transfer them to Ukraine, which is another reason to purchase the tanks through contracts rather than deploying them straight from DoD stocks.

According to the source, “you’ve seen us do this with other capabilities when we don’t have them easily available in U.S. inventories.” Then we go through the procurement process to ensure that Ukraine has the capability it requires.” “With the Abrams, that’s what we’re doing here.”

According to authorities, the M1s will enhance the capabilities the Pentagon has already delivered in earlier aid packages, which include hundreds of armored vehicles, air defenses, and artillery shells.

DoD is now working on how to get the Abrams to the battlefield and help them stay there. The official also said that the military will set up a “careful” training program to teach the Ukrainians how to maintain, fix, and use the weapons, which “do need a lot of help.”

In addition to the tanks, the DoD is also purchasing eight M88 recovery vehicles, which can free stuck vehicles and repair or replace broken Abrams parts during a conflict. The source said these vehicles “travel with the Abrams to provide coverage for your operation and to make sure that Ukrainians will be able to keep these Abrams running.”

Because the DoD has trained in combined arms movement tactics, the Abrams and other tanks will be used by Ukrainian troops in their operations.

The third senior administration official said these weapons would help Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia over the next few weeks and months, especially in the open northern Donbas region. The administration’s longstanding commitment to the conflict is primarily reflected in Abrams.

“As we’ve indicated from the beginning, the capabilities we’re going to offer will change as the needs of the fight change.” “And I believe you can see that right here,” the second senior administration official added.

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