More than 600 Ukrainian fighters have finished a five-week advanced US training course in Germany, the Pentagon said. The class completion coincided with a visit to the base by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Additional training at the Grafenwoehr training area will involve about 1,600 more Ukrainian troops. 

The intense course prepared Ukrainian forces to maneuver Bradley fighting vehicles and M109 Paladin self-propelled howitzers in battle. Another field artillery unit and a Stryker battalion will start training next week, the first Ukrainian battalion to get training on the Stryker armored personnel carrier.

The training – which includes classroom instruction, field work and combat exercises - is being led by the 7th Army Training Command.

Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force BG Pat Ryder said this US effort “is a logical next step in our ongoing training efforts, which began in 2014, to build the Ukrainian armed forces capacity,” and added, “While there’s an understandable focus on the equipment being provided to Ukraine, training is and has been essential to ensuring Ukraine has the skilled forces necessary to better defend themselves.”’

Ryder added, “What you can expect to see is… battalion-sized units, and it will begin with things like live fire exercises, followed by squad, platoon and company level training that will then culminate in battalion-level maneuver training.” The training will move beyond individual and unit skills into higher echelon events. “Importantly, it will also include battalion headquarters staff training.” 

This higher-end advanced, live training moves beyond instruction the US has provided to about 3,100 Ukrainian service members since the start of the war last February, primarily focused on allowing the Ukrainians to use specific, advanced US and joint allied weapons systems, including the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). 

Since the Russian invasion, allied nations have also instructed about 12,000 Ukrainian troops, primarily new recruits who have gone to England for basic training..