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Three more nations join Ukraine planning cell run by US Army special forces

Soldiers from the 10th Special Forces Group and 4th Combat Aviation Brigade train at Fort Carson, Colo., March 29, 2018. (DANIEL WYATT/U.S. ARMY)

Three more countries have joined a coordination effort set up by U.S. Army special forces to help Ukraine, the Army secretary said Tuesday.

“When Russia went into Ukraine in late February, we sent the 10th Special Forces Group to develop a coalition planning cell that enabled us to bring together 20 different nations to coordinate information with international [special operations forces] partners and allies,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said during a virtual event with the Atlantic Council. “And that has again, I think, contributed significantly with the effectiveness and the speed of the assistance and training that we’ve been able to provide.”

The planning cell had 17 members in April, when Lt. Gen. Jonathan Braga, the commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, testified to senators.

Wormuth said the cell has helped coordinate the shipment of weapons and equipment within Ukraine.

“As the Ukrainians try to move that around and evade the Russians potentially trying to target convoys, you know, we are trying to be able to help coordinate moving all of those different sort of shipments,” she said.

“Another thing I think we can help with,” Wormuth said, “is intelligence about where the threats to those convoys may be.”

She did not name the members of the planning cell or further detail its actions.

With one battalion based in Stuttgart, Germany, the 10th Special Forces Group has been part of the U.S. special operations effort to help Ukrainian forces build their resilience and resistance capabilities since Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014, Wormuth said.

“I think we see the return on that investment very much with what we’re seeing right now,” she said.

National Guardsmen have also helped to train Ukrainian troops. While U.S. training stopped before the invasion, it was restarted outside the country as more complex equipment was being sent to Ukraine. Members of the Florida National Guard moved to Germany and have helped train Ukrainian forces on the M777 towed howitzers.

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