M1 Abrams Tank Training Coming Soon? Ukrainian soldiers could begin to be trained on the American M1 Abrams main battle tank (MBT) in the coming days, Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder told Voice of America (VOA) on Tuesday.
According to the exclusive report, about 250 Ukrainians had already arrived in Germany earlier this week for the training that is expected to last about 10 weeks.
It was in January that the Biden administration did a major “U-turn” and agreed to supply Kyiv with a number of MBTs. The decision came as the UK announced it would send fourteen Challenger 2 MBTs, and just weeks later that number was doubled to 28. In addition, Germany agreed to allow its Leopard 2 MBTs to be sent to aid the Ukrainians. Around 100 Leopard 2s from various European nations will head to Ukraine, while Berlin has also pledged to send 88 Leopard 1 tanks as well.
Training Days on M1 Abrams
The training will focus on how to operate, and how to maneuver the tanks in a combined arms fight, while the crews will also be trained in tank maintenance. Even though some of the crews and maintainers may have experience with tanks, extensive training is necessary given how vastly different the Abrams MBTs are from the Soviet-designed platforms that the Ukrainians have likely used in the past.
The course will reportedly be similar to previous U.S.-led training on the M2 Bradley fighting vehicles and Stryker vehicles that Washington had also supplied to Kyiv.
Sooner Than Expected
The Ukrainian crews shouldn’t get too attached to any of the tanks during training, however, as they will train on the 31 Abrams that arrived in Germany earlier this month. U.S. officials have said that these are actually a different set of M1A1 MBTs than what will be sent to Ukraine for use on the front lines. Those tanks are now being refurbished in the United States and will be delivered to Ukraine by the fall.
The White House had also announced in January that it would send a newer version of the Abrams to Ukraine. At issue was that the M1A2 would have to be newly procured and built, a process that could potentially take years. In March, the decision was made to provide the M1A1 Abrams instead.
The move was made to get the American MBTs “into the hands of the Ukrainians sooner than later,” Ryder said at the time.
M1 Abrams: Particularly Designed for This War
Named for the late General Creighton W. Abrams, former Army Chief of Staff and commander of the 37th Armored Battalion, the M1 Abrams has been the backbone of the armored forces of the United States military since the early 1980s. Despite being in service with the U.S. military for a decade, the Abrams had remained untested in combat until the Persian Gulf War in 1991. Yet, its baptism of fire served to confirm that it was truly among the best tanks in the world.
It was designed during the Cold War to take on Soviet tanks in Europe – and now after four decades, the M1 Abrams will soon have its chance to prove itself, but with Ukrainians doing the fighting.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.