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Pentagon predicts impact of Abrams tanks in Ukraine

The top US general has claimed that American armor will “make a difference” on the battlefield but won’t be a panacea

America’s top-ranking military officer has warned that the M1 Abrams tanks that Washington has pledged to Ukraine will have a limited impact when they arrive on the battlefield later this year.

“I’m biased, but I think the M1 tank’s the best tank in the world …,” US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said at a press briefing on Friday after a meeting of Ukraine’s military benefactors at Germany’s Ramstein Air Base. “I do think the M1 tank, when it is delivered, will make a difference.” However, he added, “I would also caution there’s no silver bullet in war.”

US President Joe Biden’s administration agreed in January to give 31 Abrams tanks to Kiev after previously insisting that they were too complicated to operate and difficult to maintain. The M1 Abrams is powered by a jet engine and guzzles aviation fuel, rather than standard diesel. It weighs 63 tons and travels about three miles on a gallon of fuel.

Battlefield outcomes in Ukraine’s conflict with Russia will depend on many variables, not a single weapon system, Milley said. The US tanks will need to be deployed in combined arms warfare, he added, synchronizing their maneuvers with mechanized infantry, artillery and other weaponry.

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FILE PHOTO: Servicemen from an anti-tank battery of Russian Airborne Forces ride atop an infantry fighting vehicle armed with Kornet anti-tank missiles.
Moscow set to deploy ‘tank hunters’ to battlefield – official

M1A1 training tanks will arrive within the next few weeks in Germany, where Ukrainian forces will be taught how to operate them, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told reporters. The 31 tanks earmarked for use in Ukraine are being refurbished in the US and will be sent to Kiev when they’re ready.

“All of this is huge progress,” Austin said. “I am confident that this equipment and the training that accompanied it will put Ukraine’s forces in a position to continue to succeed on the battlefield.”

Asked whether US public support would enable Biden’s administration to keep supplying weapons to Ukraine, Austin said he was optimistic. “This is about the rules-based international order. This is about a bully not having the ability to trample his smaller neighbor at will. This is about providing the opportunity for a country to protect its sovereign rights.”

US polling has shown declining public support for Ukraine aid. Washington has already committed $113 billion in assistance to Kiev. A group of 19 Republican lawmakers urged Biden on Wednesday to end “unrestrained” Ukraine aid, saying it was prolonging the bloodshed, diminishing US military readiness and putting America at greater risk of a catastrophic conflict with Russia.

READ MORE: US lawmakers demand halt to ‘unrestrained’ Ukraine aid

April 22, 2023 at 01:12AM

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