Hundreds of foreign soldiers to help train Ukrainian troops in Germany -general
STRAUSBERG, Germany (Reuters) - German military instructors teaching some 1,000 Ukrainian troops how to use Western tanks and other arms will soon be reinforced by several hundred specialists from other countries, the head of the Special Training Command said on Wednesday.
"We are talking about some 30-50 troops from Norway and several hundred from the Netherlands," Lieutenant-General Andreas Marlow told Reuters in an interview at his headquarters in the town of Strausberg near Berlin, adding he was aiming for further contributions from other nations.
"I hope we will be able to convince more partners to support us," he said, noting the first additional trainers are expected to arrive by the end of March.
Marlow's Special Training Command (STC) is part of a European Union military mission set up in November to train up to 30,000 Ukrainian troops in various skills to help Kyiv fight off Russia's year-old invasion.
Courses in various European countries range from basic training to the operation of modern battle tanks such as the Leopard 2, air defence systems, rocket launchers and howitzers.
So far, some 1,500 mainly German soldiers have been handling the training in Germany, with the goal of completing courses for some 9,000 or more Ukrainians by the end of 2023, Marlow said.
Poland is another major training hub while Spain, France, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Italy are also running courses. Beyond the EU mission, U.S. and British troops are training Ukrainian troops in Europe as well.
While public discussions over the past few months have focused on whether or not the West would supply tanks to Ukraine, the instructors in Germany stress the importance of all weapons acting in concert.
Such warfare, described by the military as combined arms operations, is seen as a strength of NATO forces in contrast with Russia's military that experts say bets on strength from sheer numbers of troops and weapons.
"We see tanks and infantry fighting vehicles as inseparable twins that go into battle together, with the support of others such as artillery, engineers or air defence systems," said Marlow.
"Only this mix creates the synergies that give us an advantage over someone who is using their troops without this kind of orchestration," he added, noting that a tank operating alone was vulnerable to attacks by infantry with anti-tank weapons approaching the vehicle from a dead angle.
Marlow said he was impressed by the quick wits, skills and commitment of the Ukrainian troops.
"That gets to you, when you see these young people training on a tank, on an infantry fighting vehicle that will head directly into battle - not like the artillery that fires at a distance," he said.
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Alexander Ratz, editing by Mark Heinrich)