WASHINGTON — The U.S. military plans to establish a training center in Europe to train NATO allies in the use of HIMARS missiles, a senior U.S. general told media amid increased demand for weapons in Eastern Europe following successful use in Ukraine.
“We are still in the preliminary stages of discussion, but it will be a place where we could bring together several countries,” said in an exclusive interview with media the commander of the 5th Corps, Lt. Gen. John Kolaszewski, who is in in charge of US Army operations on NATO’s eastern flank.
The news comes after the State Department on Tuesday approved a potential sale to Poland of 18 HIMARS launchers, as well as hundreds of guided multiple rocket launchers and dozens of the army’s tactical missile systems. The deal, valued at $10 billion, was requested by the Polish government.
The proposed HIMARS program will be available to NATO countries that have approved the sale of long-range artillery systems. Among them are countries like Estonia, Poland and Romania, located on NATO’s eastern flank.
“NATO sees the brutality of what is happening in Ukraine, and there is a sense of urgency, a sense of purpose, and all 30 countries have come together to effectively protect NATO territory together,” he said. said Kolaszewski.
Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur told media earlier this week that “one of the biggest lessons learned” from the war in Ukraine is that “long-range firing systems are extremely important.” HIMARS is credited with changing the course of the war.
Estonia has purchased six HIMARS units, which are expected to be delivered in 2024-2025.
The US HIMARS Platoon provides additional defensive capability in the Baltic States.
According to Pevkur, the platoon also enables Estonian forces to start training on the missile systems “today” so that they are ready to use them “from day one”.
Kolaszewski said the proposed HIMARS training center would be a “similar” facility to the Abrams Tank Training Academy, which opened near Poznań in Poland last year to familiarize Polish troops with Abrams main battle tanks. made in the USA.
Poland is the first European ally to buy Abrams. Warsaw bought tanks of the 250M1A2 model last year and the 116M1A1 in January this year.
Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on Saturday that Poland has started preparing the Ukrainian Armed Forces for the use of Leopard 2 tanks.
When asked if the Abrams Tank Training Academy in Poland would train the Ukrainian military to operate the Abrams, Kolaszewski told media that “no decision has been made on this issue at this time.”
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