While Ukrainian troops push their Western artillery to its limits, and sometimes beyond, in order to repel Russian forces, the US military is assisting in the repair of broken down pieces over the phone and through video chats.
According to the Associated Press, a US military-led response team comprised of troops, civilians, and contractors from the US and allied countries is providing real-time hardware support to Ukrainian forces on the front lines from a base in Poland.
Because NATO countries are not sending troops into Ukraine, the maintenance team must provide support remotely, often while Kyiv’s forces are engaged in combat and actively exchanging fire with the enemy.
According to the report, this help line, which involves encrypted communication between phones and tablets in virtual chatrooms, is part of a growing effort to provide Ukraine with repair and maintenance advice as it continues to receive more advanced weapons from NATO countries.
“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,” said a US soldier on the team.
According to the report, Ukrainian troops have been firing their heavy artillery pieces at unprecedented rates past when they would normally be due for repair in order to keep Russian forces at bay. As a result, the support team is learning the limits of these systems and where they may fail.
According to the report, Ukrainians frequently request that US-supplied howitzers be repaired. The US Department of Defense has sent Kyiv 160 155 mm howitzers, along with over 1 million artillery rounds, and 72 105 mm howitzers, along with 370,000 artillery rounds.
Howitzers, which are long-range indirect fire weapons capable of launching shells at enemy positions from great distances, are just one component of the more than $27.1 billion in security assistance provided by the US to Ukraine since Russian forces launched their large-scale invasion nearly a year ago.
Early US weapons deliveries to Ukraine included Javelin anti-tank missile systems. Last summer, Military.com reported on an over-the-phone repair incident in which a Washington state National Guardsman received an unexpected call from a Ukrainian soldier he met during a previous deployment about a problem with his Javelin.
The Guardsmen were able to resolve the issue, and about a half-hour later, he received a call from the Ukrainian soldier informing him that he had taken out a Russian vehicle.
As fighting continues in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, the US and its allies have increased their commitment to sending military aid to Kyiv in recent weeks, with the goal of getting Ukrainian forces back on the move. Hundreds of armoured vehicles, including main battle tanks from the United Kingdom, Germany, and, eventually, the United States, will be deployed to the battlefield as Ukraine presses for more advanced weaponry.
After finally obtaining the much-desired Western-made tanks, Ukraine’s ambitions have now shifted to acquiring fighter jets.