The US is sending Ukraine $400 million more in military aid and establishing a security assistance headquarters in Germany that will oversee all weapons transfers and military training for Ukraine, the Pentagon announced Friday.
The new command post, called the Security Assistance Group Ukraine, signals a more permanent, long-term program to continue to aid Kyiv in its fight against Russia, Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told reporters at the Pentagon. It will be led by a three-star-level senior officer and have about 300 personnel who will monitor the weapons assistance and training programs, said US Army Europe spokesman Col. Martin O’Donnell.
The $400 million includes contracts for 1,100 Phoenix Ghost drones, funding to refurbish 45 tanks and an additional 40 riverine boats, among other systems, the Pentagon said.
The Phoenix Ghost drone is an armed “kamikaze drone” that explodes on contact with its target.
The T-72 tanks are being pulled from existing defense industry inventory in the Czech Republic — paid for by The Netherlands — and will have advanced optics, communications and armor packages. They are part of a total package of 90 of the T-72 tanks that will be sent to Ukraine through 2023, the Pentagon said.
This package also includes funds to refurbish Hawk surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles so they can be provided to Ukraine to assist in its defense against Iranian drones.
The missile system is no longer in use by the US but the missiles, once refurbished, will give Ukraine another medium-range air defense option, Singh said. Hawk missiles have a longer range than the Stinger anti-aircraft missiles the US has previously provided.
Because the weapons are being procured through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, they will not be ready for immediate transfer to Kyiv. Weapons provided through USAI funding are obtained through longer-term industry contracts instead of being drawn from US weapons stockpiles.
The US has committed more than $18.2 billion in weapons and other equipment to Ukraine since the war began on Feb. 24.
The new command post is being established as the US is focusing on longer-term efforts to improve accountability for the billions of dollars in US weaponry that has flowed into Ukraine and to ensure it does not fall into the wrong hands.
Last week the State Department outlined how it is trying to keep some of those more advanced weapons from being pilfered or falling into Russian hands but admitted that ensuring weapons accountability is particularly difficult during an active war and when there is no major US presence on the ground.
The plan includes limited on-the-ground monitoring by US military personnel, Pentagon spokesman Air Force Gen. Pat Ryder said this week.
“When and where security conditions permit, a small team comprised of US Embassy Kyiv – Office of the Defense Attaché personnel have conducted multiple inspections of US security assistance deliveries within the last couple months at locations in Ukraine,” Ryder said. “These locations are not near the frontlines of Russia’s war against Ukraine.”