- The US military is leading a team that is helping to repair Ukraine’s military hardware over the phone.
- These virtual exchanges often take place during battle, the Associated Press reported.
- Ukrainian troops, meanwhile, are pushing artillery systems to the limits to keep Russia at bay.
As Ukrainian troops push their Western artillery to the limits, and sometimes past them, while fighting off Russian forces, the US military is helping to repair broken down pieces over the phone and through video chats.
A US military-led response team that includes troops, civilians, and contractors from the US and allied countries, is providing real-time hardware support from a base in Poland to Ukrainian forces on the front lines, the Associated Press reported on Saturday.
Because NATO countries are not sending troops into Ukraine, the maintenance team has to work remotely to provide support — often while Kyiv’s forces are in battle and actively exchanging fire with the enemy.
This help line, which involves encrypted communication between phones and tablets in virtual chatrooms, is a growing effort to give Ukraine advice on repairs and maintenance as it continues to receive more advanced weapons from NATO countries, the report said.
“A lot of the times we’ll get calls from right there on the firing line, so there’ll be outgoing or incoming fire at the same time you’re trying to help the forward maintainers troubleshoot the best they can,” a US soldier on the team told the AP.
According to the report, Ukrainian troops have been firing their heavy artillery pieces past when they would typically be due for a repair, and at unprecedented rates to keep Russian forces at bay. Because of this, the support team is learning the limits of these systems and where they might have a breaking point.
Fixing US-provided howitzers has been a common request from the Ukrainians, according to the report. The US Department of Defense has sent Kyiv 160 155 mm howitzers — with over 1 million accompanying artillery rounds — and 72 105 mm howitzers, complimented by 370,000 accompanying artillery rounds.
Howitzers, which are long-range indirect fire weapons that can lob shells at enemy positions miles away, are just one part of the more than $27.1 billion in security assistance that the US has provided Ukraine with since Russian forces launched their large-scale invasion nearly a year ago.
Early weapons provisions from the US to Ukraine included Javelin anti-tank missile systems. Military.com reported an over-the-phone repair incident last summer, revealing that a Washington state National Guardsmen got an unexpected call from a Ukrainian soldier he met during a previous deployment about a problem with his Javelin.
The Guardsmen managed to fix the issue, and then about half an hour later, he got a call from the Ukrainian soldier saying he took out a Russian vehicle.
As fighting remains heavily concentrated in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, US and allied countries in recent weeks have stepped up their commitment to sending military aid to Kyiv, the aim being to get Ukrainian forces back on the move. Hundreds of armored vehicles — including main battle tanks from the UK and Germany and eventually the US — will be heading to the battlefield as Ukraine continues to press for more advanced weaponry.
In finally securing the Western-made tanks, which were much-sought-after by Ukraine, the country has now set its ambitions on acquiring fighter jets.