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Transcript

Defense Officials Hold Media Brief on the Training of Ukrainian Military

May 4, 2022
Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby; Brigadier General Joseph Hilbert, Commanding General, 7th Army Training Command, EUCOM; Lieutenant Colonel Todd Hopkins, Chief of Staff

PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY JOHN F. KIRBY: So General Hilbert, thank you so much for your time today and for being willing to do this. And -- and sir, I'm going to turn it over to you.

BRIGADIER GENERAL JOSEPH HILBERT: OK, thank -- thanks, Mr. Kirby. And -- and really to all of you, thanks -- thanks for taking your time and -- and we're just -- we're -- we're thankful for the interest that you've got in the mission -- in the mission that we've got over here. I -- I hope we're able to answer -- answer some of the questions, as -- as Mr. Kirby said, and -- and -- and we look forward to the interaction with you.

So -- so, you know, as discussed, I'm the Commander of 7th Army Training Command here in Germany, and just kind of for background, I -- prior to this, in a -- in a previous assignment, I was a Commander at Hohenfels at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center just south of here. That'll become important a little bit later. I tell you that just to say I -- I've been watching or observing or been participating in the JMTG-U mission on and off since about 2018 or so. 

In the room with me today, I've got several members of our staff, and -- and all of these folks have also been involved in -- in the mission really since its inception in 2015 up to today. I'll give you a quick overview of -- of how it's evolved, I'll give you some information about what we're currently providing here and other sites in Europe, and -- and then we'll talk kind of specifically about the -- about JMTG-U, the -- the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine, and -- and then some of the things that it's -- that -- that they've been able to do, both previously and today.

One -- one thing I do want to point out -- you know, that -- like I said, we started this mission in 2015 -- it -- but it was not the only touchpoint that we had with the Ukrainians and its impact was not -- was not just limited to the training that was conducted inside, in -- in Ukraine.

So what -- some of the things that they were able to do for us over the past several years is they were able to also help find opportunities for the Armed Forces of Ukraine to participate in other U.S. exercises really across the theater.

For example, as I mentioned, the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, the Ukrainians had participated in well over a dozen exercises down in -- down in Hohenfels really from 2015, with -- with units that ranged from the company team all the way up to the -- to the battalion.

They -- they also participated in some of the smaller exercises. We run a Strong Europe Tank Challenge that they've participated in one year and -- and interactions like that. So we've -- we've been interacting with them for -- for -- for -- really, ever since -- ever since the mission started.

As far as -- as far as the history of the mission prior to -- prior to February 2020 -- so, you know, we all know that Russia invaded Ukraine and -- and Crimea, unfortunately the Donbas in -- in 2014, and -- and what happened as a result of that is a host of different training endeavors and partnerships with Ukraine, one of them being the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine that started in 2015.

That mission that they've provided, that really evolved over time from providing immediate needs training to Ukrainian National Guard battalions all the way up to developing a combat training center capability as well as, you know, participating in advising efforts with -- with several other NATO allies and partners that were working in Ukraine.

It did not originally involve the distribution of security assistance equipment but it was tied with the -- with the security assistance efforts that were coming through -- through the Department of State and through the U.S. embassy in -- in -- in Kyiv.

So the -- the way that mission started -- in 2015, the first group to go there was from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, a U.S. Army, Europe Africa forward station brigade. And so they -- they began the -- the JMTG-U mission, and then after that, it went to a rotational model, where U.S. Army National Guard brigade combat teams would come over for a nine-month rotation, training with Ukrainians there in -- in CTC -- in -- Combat Training Center -- Yavoriv in the Ukraine. 

And then there was one period where the 101st Airborne Division came over as -- as part of that force. It wasn't the entire National Guard brigade combat team but was a group of people from the brigade combat team that would come over as advisors.

Since the beginning of that mission up until January 2022, we've trained a total of 23,000-plus Armed Forces of Ukraine soldiers from 17 different battalions and 11 different brigades that (inaudible) participate and train there at the combat training center Yavoriv. 

That training, you know, the funds associated with it, it's about $126 million invested in that program over time. So, the way the program evolved over time is the Armed Forces of Ukraine really saw that their in-state for Yavoriv was what they wanted to build was something similar to our Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Oberpfalz, our National Training Center at Fort Irwin and our Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk Louisiana. 

These would be brigade level, combined arms training centers that we're able to train soldiers really from the individual up through the collective task and as realistic scenarios as possible through the support of simulations, training devices and training aids. 

And you may be familiar that the location in Yavoriv was -- it was a Ukrainian training site with all of the training facilities that you'd normally see on a base, everything from ranges to, as I mentioned, training devices and simulations. 

And so that's where we were when -- when we pulled the JMTGU training mission out of Ukraine and back to here. And so, what I think might be helpful now is to -- is to pass off to Lieutenant Colonel Hopkins. He's the deputy commander for the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team out of the state of Florida. They are the -- they were the last group to have the mission and Todd can talk to you about JMTGU and total lines of effort there.

LIEUTENANT COLONEL TODD HOPKINS: Thank you, sir, Mr. Kirby and the press as you gather today to hear our story and a little bit about what we're doing. I appreciate the opportunity to highlight a little bit of how JMTGU has adapted to those needs and requests that our Ukrainian partners have asked of us as they have increased in proficiency over the years.

As I understand, back in 2015, the requirement may have been demonstrating how to in place an obstacle with American trainers in the lead. However, that changed significantly. 

By the time we arrived in November of 2021, JMTGU had shifted from directly train -- from us directly training our partners to a more advised role and a more over-the-shoulder style training, focusing on staff integration and synchronization. 

From day to day we focused on assisting the AFU and billing training and doctrine and facilities, much like General Hilbert just described, that integrated as all aspects of warfighting to include maneuver, fires and air defense. We specifically focused on increasing their capacity and capability for self-defense while building readiness and NATO interoperability. 

We try to do this in two ways. Specifically, we worked first to develop their combat training center there in Yavoriv into a facility capable of training lethal brigade-level formations. We did this by advising the Yavorivs, the CTC Yavoriv staff on development and execution across all phases of training rotations. 

These usually started with a mobile training team that would go and assist with pre-rotational home station training on NATO staff operations. We also, between different rotations, we sustained that other initiatives to include anti-tank weapon systems.

So, for example, you may have -- you may have seen images a few months ago in the media covering the anti-tank missile range there in Yavoriv in January, one of the last training events that we did before repositioning back here to Germany. 

So, from -- to kind of recap, from 2015 we were in a hands-on training specifically on the individual and company formations. But by January of this year we were specifically helping them develop plans to conduct a Ukrainian-led division-level exercise across multiple training centers in Ukraine. 

The second way that we were assisting them, included advising at the strategic level at land forces command and the Ukrainian general staff in the areas of doctrine, operations training, et cetera. 

JMTGU staffed a small training command advisory team in Kyiv specifically in coordination with U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation that coordinated with other nations the missions that we were tempting to achieve. 

This effort assured that we made recommendations across their army that helped them achieve goals in both training and professional reform. This assisted in efforts such as the development of a competent non-commissioned officer corps that could feed initiative and make tactical decisions based on commander's intent, which is a hallmark of our army as well as that of our NATO allies. 

Before I hand it back over to General Hilbert, I wanted to talk about the suspension of a mission. I'd like to share a brief conversation that one of our trainers had with their counterparts before we left, indicating that the -- that officer specifically stated that the biggest mistake that the Russians made was giving us eight years to prepare for this. 

 Yes, so -- thanks, Todd. So, you know, as all of you are familiar what we refer to as Task Force Gator or the -- or these soldiers from the 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team out of Florida that they took the mission in November and due to the -- due to the invasion of the Russians in Ukraine, we did order them to suspend their mission and then repositioned them here to Grafenwöhr in mid-February.

Now, since that time they've supported a host of operations in support of the training command here. The thing is though, when we had to withdraw them from Ukraine, what we did know was that the repositioning was not going to be the end of a relationship and we knew that eventually, we would be back to working with and training the Ukrainians in some capacity. 

So, recently U.S. Army Europe Africa received a mission to begin training Ukrainian soldiers on the systems that they were going to be provided through the PDA authorities, you know, the 155 millimeter howitzers, radars, armored vehicles, et cetera. 

And JMTGU, they've assumed the lead for that training here as well as in other sites in Europe. What we're doing with it, is we're taking small groups of Ukrainian soldiers who are already working in those career fields. So, for the howitzers, they already Ukrainian artillerymen. If they are driving armored vehicles they're familiar with those platforms that are Ukrainian platforms. 

And so, they're proficient with their own systems. Well, now what we're doing is we re running through a streamlined course here on the new equipment that they'll be receiving. The goal in all of this is to get them back as soon as possible so that then they can -- they can train others within their army on the equipment that they -- that they're receiving. What we want make sure of is that they understand how to operate and employ those as effectively as they can on their own and in accordance with their own -- their own tactics and their own doctrine. 

We've -- we have already conducted the initial -- the initial tranches of training both here and elsewhere and we're currently on our -- on our second group. What I would -- what I would tell you is and not to speak for the Ukrainian armed forces, but from personally observing it, the soldiers that we are receiving here who are taking the training are absolutely motivated, incredibly professional, and they are -- they're doing really well with the training that we're given and I'm very confident with their abilities as the go forward. 

So to give a little bit of personal view of that I'll pass over to Todd for some of the comments that has -- he and his team have seen since they've been training here. 

COL. HOPKINS: Thank you again, sir. It truly is an honor and a pleasure to be working with our partners again. Some of these that we know personally and with many we share mutual acquaintances and common stories. The soldiers are, as General Hilbert said, are extremely competent and eager to learn the systems that we are providing them. 

Most already have a more than adequate -- they even have an advanced understanding of Hill artillery, making these very quick and very focused training efforts. They are absolutely focused at the task at hand and getting back to Ukraine.

Just as an example of that, a couple of days ago during one of the lunch breaks, one of the Ukrainian soldiers received word from his -- from hometown -- his hometown that his hometown was being shelled. 

He and his team immediately stopped what they were doing and stopped eating at their lunch and went back to training knowing that that was how that they were going to go back and support their homeland. 

So just as a personal note, I can't -- I can't say anymore what an honor and a privilege it is for us to be supporting these amazing worriers defending their nation.

Yes, so -- it's General Hilbert again. So -- so really that -- that -- that does kind of wrap up our comments here. I will -- you know the -- put kind of a little bit of personal note on it as well and just tell you, you know, one of the lowest parts of -- of the mission, if not the lowest part really was when we had to pull them out of Ukraine, out of Yavoriv back in February.

But the -- probably one of the high points was absolute excitement when we knew we were going to put them back to work training Ukrainians and doing what -- what the Department of the Army, the State of Florida sent them over here to do, which was -- which was to train our partners in Ukraine.

And so we're -- we're thankful for that. It's a pleasure to watch every day. It's -- it's just something that we're excited to do. So Mr. Kirby, I'll pass back to you. I hope for all of you that we were able to answer some of your questions and I think we're available to take a few of them for you.

MR. KIRBY: Thank you, General and thank you, Lieutenant Colonel Hopkins. I really appreciate the -- all those framing remarks. And so we'll -- we'll just jump right into questions and I'll just start going down the list and if you got one just shout it out. We'll start with you, Lita.

Q: Hi, thanks so much for doing this. Can you give us sort of a sense of what the training capacity is and how many trainers you have there and whether you think there is a need to -- to bolster it or if you're already bolstering it and if so by how much. Just give us a scope of -- of kind of the training as it is now and what you're hoping to do as you go forward. Thank you.

Yes, ma'am. So this is Joe Hilbert. The -- this is going to sound like a non answer but the reality is that the training capacity that we've got right now is appropriate to the size of the force that we're currently training. And the reason that I -- that I kind of say it that way is we -- we can expand -- we will expand to what is required by U.S. European Command and U.S. Army Europe and Africa.

It is not just -- I mean the -- while -- while JMTGU has the lead on the training, it's really a whole of U.S. Army Europe and Africa support to it and that's why I say that the capacity exists to expand it. Based on -- based on the support we're getting from other U.S. Army Europe and Africa units and that's why it's a little bit -- also, it's a little bit hard to say what is the limitation, where do we -- where do we reach the can't do more level.

But we are -- we're scaling the mission appropriate for the requirements that we got.

Q: And can I just ask a follow-up. Are you having any difficulties getting the Ukrainian soldiers to the training and then back into Ukraine?

No, ma'am. Not -- not to my knowledge.

MR. KIRBY: OK. Next one, Tom Bowman.

Q: Yes, this is for either officer. Can you talk a little bit about how the Ukrainians have improved over the past number of years? Specific capabilities, there's been a lot mention about EW, for example. 

And also in the fight so far, anything jumps out at you about how the Ukrainians are performing. And then finally, this maybe is for senior defense official number one, is there any way we can get access to the training and if not, why not?

MR. KIRBY:  I'll pass it -- I'll pass it over to the General now.

Yes. So -- so -- so I think, you know, the question is how -- how have we seen the Ukrainians improve (inaudible) I think the -- I think the simplest answer I would give you is the -- the -- if you -- if you just look at what has happened over since the invasion and what the Ukrainians have been able to do, they took the training to heart. 

They -- they've been -- they were -- they were very passionate about it, they invested in it. And so you know specific examples would be a little bit difficult to do from a -- you know we perceptively have to look and -- and begin to compare 2014 to 2022.

But I think the quote that Colonel Hopkins gave you, you know, from the Ukrainians is, you know, the worst thing Russia did is give us eight years to prepare. And I will tell you they used that time very wisely. 

And -- and we did see overtime an investment and a non commissioned officer core, as an example, something that was not present before the -- the -- an investment there. The investment in the training capabilities and the simulations that were at Yavoriv to then to be able to prepare for large scale combat operations to train their staffs on how to synchronize, combine arms and things of that nature.

All of that incrementally overtime and all of that investment in -- in -- in their capabilities and their forces I think has -- have -- you just see how it's paid off. We see it in -- you know we see it at the individual level in the soldiers that come here to train in not just their motivation but then also their -- both their technical, their tactical capabilities. And their -- their where withal when they come in to -- to go through the training.

Q: All right, thanks.

MR. KIRBY: OK. Jennifer Griffin. 

Q: Thank you very much. I'm just curious and I -- maybe I missed it, the training that you're doing, is it of the Ukrainian soft forces and how are you insuring that the weapon systems that you're training them on are going to them when they are back on the front lines and not just going through the conventional military system? Thank you. 

Yes, ma'am. So I think I hear you ask if we were training Ukrainians -- so just for clarification did you say Ukrainians SOF as in special operations forces?

Q: Yes, sir. 

So we are training the forces that are going to use the equipment that they have and so -- or the equipment that they'll be issued as part of the PDA. So in the case of the artillery pieces that we're training on, those soldiers are artillery soldiers who are getting training on those artillery systems that they will then receive on the far end. 

As far -- and that play itself out with the radars and with the armored personnel carriers as well. As far as speaking to the guarantees of how the equipment is transferred, I really would have to pass that one to -- pass that one back as the responsibilities we have is for the training portion of it and then those pieces of PDA equipment they are flowing on into theater.

Q: But can you confirm that the first 50, for instance, artillery men that you have trained that they have -- that they are now using those Howitzers on the frontline?

Yes, I think Mr. Kirby briefed that one last week. 

OK, David Martin.

Q: A couple things. One, it sounds like you're talking from Grafenwöhr but could you tell us one where you are? And two, where the training is going on specifically in terms of locations? And bring us up to speed on the numbers? How many have been through and on what systems and how many are currently in training on what systems?

Yes, sir. So I can tell you, yes, we are -- we are training in Grafenwöhr. As far as numbers, it's system dependent. We've got -- we've got between 50, 60 here that are currently training in our artillery systems. And really we look as far as groups that come through or what we're term in tranches that are coming through. And so we're on a second tranche now that's coming through. And that's why it's a little harder to say well, the numbers coming through are set hard in stone because again we're building the capability based off of or the capacity based off the requirements that we got and what is coming through.

Q: So -

MR. KIRBY: And, David, obviously there' some nations here where we're conducting training that are not comfortable having that be publically announced. So we're going to continue to respect that.

Q: Yes. But can you give me the numbers that -- of artillery men and radar operators and armored personnel carrier operators that you have trained so far and the number that you are training currently?

Hey, sir, I'll just -- I really would not feel comfortable giving kind of the specific numbers out that we currently trained or are training. We are -- we are training an appropriate number for the systems that we have and for the men. And I'll -- and I'm afraid I just probably should leave it there.

MR. KIRBY: OK, Sam LaGrone, USNI.
 
Q: Are y'all doing any of the training with any of the maritime systems? If not, I'm good.

From our end, sir, just the systems announced.

Q: Thanks.

MR. KIRBY: OK. Dan Lamothe.

Q: Thank you. Just a question on throughput. You mentioned the possibility or at the availability of expanding capacity. Based on what's actually occurring on the ground right now do you have any sense that that's likely to occur or at least in the short term even an option?

From -- a little bit out of my lane as the -- as the trainer to be -- to be very honest. But again we've -- we are prepared to expand the training as required based off of the throughput of equipment going through. Whether or not that throughput's going to increase or whether or not additional systems are going to come in, I would really have to defer there.

But we got the capacity that we need to train now and we've got more capacity we can contribute to it.

Q: Thank you. 

MR. KIRBY: OK, Jeff Seldin, VOA.

Q: Thanks very much. A couple questions for either of you. How much of the training is focused on the systems as opposed to how much of it gets into the Russian strategies and tactics that the Ukrainian forces will be facing? And also to what extent has Russia's conduct -- military conduct in places like Syria impacted how you have been doing the training?

Yes, so the -- as far as the training on the systems versus the tactics, it is -- it is on the system but obviously in training on the system there is a tactical portion to it that is covered as well. So there's -- so there's going to be both technical instruction with the -- with the teams that we've got here on just physically how to operate it. And then there's going to be tactical instruction on how to employee. 

To be real fair as far as the tactical discussion, a lot of that is Ukrainian driven from what they have experienced all ready in conflict. We will -- we will help them and answer questions when they want to have the discussion about what might be a good way or what might be a better way to employee the system. 

But candidly they've got -- they've got the benefit of experience and so they're basically merging their experience with the technical training that we're giving them to determine the best way to employee it.

MR. KIRBY: OK. Jack Detsch, Foreign Policy.

Q: Thanks. I want to follow-up on something Secretary Austin was asked in the Congressional hearing yesterday. He was asked about Javelin training kits and apparently enough aren't getting forward to Ukrainian troops. I was just curious to get your sense on either the numbers or relative capability of the Ukrainians on the Javelin systems since obviously they're one of the most prolific systems in the field now?

Hey, sure, I guess the -- from mine, I can tell you that the training that we provided to them before JMTG-U left, they are proficient on the training system. As for the rest of it, I'll -- I'll have to -- I'll have to defer that one back. I'm just not familiar with the testimony that was given and the background there.

KIRBY: All right, Jack, I'll take it and see if there's some more to it than that. I -- I just don't know.

Q: All right, thanks.

KIRBY: Paul Handley, the AFP.

Q: Hi. And I have a question later for the SDO. Are you training, or do you need to train the Ukrainians on the use of precision-guided or smart munitions for this artillery?

Sir, we are training them on the -- the systems that they are receiving and the munitions that they'll be receiving in support of it. And I'll just leave that there.

KIRBY: All right. Tony Capaccio?

Q: Hi, sirs. Thank you for takin the call. You both mentioned combined arms a couple times. I want to ask you, is Task Force Gator taught or trained on the use of drones to -- for reconnaissance and provide targeting for artillery, this whole sensor to shooter architecture that the U.S. military practices at the NTC and other places, you know, the use of Switchbades, Phoenix, the -- well, Phoenix Ghost, or Puma, to cue artillery and counter-radar -- counter-artillery radar?

Yes, sir. So, you know, as a part of what Task Force Gator was doing while in -- while in Ukraine as a part of JMTG-U, they were, you know, obviously training, or helping the Ukrainians work their training for -- for the use of -- you know, for taking all combined arms and creating an effect on the battlefield.

As for specific training on -- on specific systems and specific TTPs for that, again, we -- the training that we're conducting here right now is relative to the systems that are coming through in the PDA. And then, you know, it would be conjecture -- I mean, effectively, if anything were to change, we would -- we would then bring in the right experts to -- to train the team on what they needed to then train on other systems that might go forward.

Q: But, sir, you -- we -- the U.S. is providing drones and Switchblades and Pumas. That's been publicly acknowledged. All I'm asking is whether you're combining this training in terms of a synergy, using drones to help cue artillery for this upcoming artillery duel that the world's been waiting for?

Yeah, so -- so, again, that, kind of, gets to the -- to the tactics portion of the -- of the merging of the two. And -- and, you know, what I would say there is that's -- those are -- those are part of the discussions, not necessarily system-specific but -- but systems in terms of how to use a number of targeting systems to derive your target location so that you can pass that back to the howitzers.

So we're, you know, in a -- in terms of our, you know, artillery training, we're training the what is often referred to as the gunnery triad, the fire support side that's going to locate the target; the delivery side, the weapons system itself; and then the fire direction side, how you're going to compute the data. And then that's -- that's all worked in there, worked in there together.

Q: Well, the drones are part of that, though, right, in terms of the fire -- it's scouting a target?

KIRBY: Hey -- hey, Tony, I think he answered the question.

Q: OK, thank you, John.

KIRBY: Yeah. Phil Stewart?

Q: Hey there. Just two -- two quick questions. One is, have all the Ukrainians who have gone for training returned to the fight? 

Were any of them left training and -- and/or gone AWOL or anything like that?

And then, secondly, what is the -- you talked about a lot of the -- you know, a lot of the upside from this training. Has there been any kind of challenges, or has all the training gone very easily?

Was there anything challenging at all about any of this training for the Ukrainians that you're training?

Thanks.

GEN. HILBERT: So, you know, to answer your first question, to our knowledge, all the ones that have received the training have returned. You know, we're not aware of any that have not. And to be real honest with you, the ones that are here, kind of, like as Todd mentioned, you know, at the lunch break, they're very serious about the mission that they've got to do. And they're very serious about the importance of that mission. And so they absolutely want to get back to the fight.

They're here for a reason. They know it. And they're ready to get back to it.

As far as challenges, I mean, there's -- there's -- there are the natural challenges associated with training in a second language, everything from overcoming language barrier to some of the technical pieces.

When -- when we -- what I would tell you is we -- we have to think of this in terms of interoperability, which in -- in Europe, and really in the Army, when we look at interoperability, we look at three domains, the human, the procedural and the technical. 

And there's challenges associated with all of those three. We overcome the human with -- in terms of the translators. We overcome the -- the -- the technical and the procedural with the training that we're conducting.

Q: OK, Mr. Kirby, this is General Hilbert. I think we may have...

KIRBY: Oh, I'm sorry. I was muted. I'm sorry, that was on me. I apologize.

Laura Seligman, Politico?

Q: Hey, John, thanks for doing this. I wanted to ask you, sir, based on your interactions with the Ukrainian soldiers, what else are they asking for?

I there any other kind of equipment that they want or need for the fight, both equipment but also in -- in terms of training, maybe greater numbers, different type of -- different type of course, different type of training. What are you seeing that they need for this new fight?

GEN. HILBERT: Yeah, so the -- I mean, you know, the comments that we get from the soldiers on the ground are obviously being staffed up through -- through their command for what they need, what they need specifically.

And -- and, you know, again, they are -- they are they are grateful for everything that they have been given or that they are getting through this PDA. They're thankful for -- you know, for that whole -- for all of the equipment that they're -- that they're getting through. 

As for the, you know, the -- what do they specifically need for their next fight? That's being -- that's being worked between -- that's being worked, you know, well, really above -- above here, to make sure that they're getting the right equipment going forward. 

I will tell you the -- what we're hearing from the soldiers is what we're giving them is -- is what they need, and they're thankful for all of it.

Q: I'm just wondering, specifically...

KIRBY: All right...

Q: ... about the -- the self-propelled artillery. Would there be any advantage, in your eyes, of giving them, like a Paladin, rather than the towed artillery?

KIRBY: Hey, Laura, that's -- that's not a question for the trainers. That's -- that's a -- that's a question for the -- the policy folks that are working directly with the Ukrainians. I think that's beyond the scope of their expertise here.

Tara Copp?

Q: Thanks for doing this. A question for both of you. Since Russia launched its invasion more than nine weeks ago, as you continue to do outreach with Ukrainians, have there been any changes in tactics that you're now training to that they've either seen on the battlefield or that you've observed, that you've adapted to, and could you provide any examples?

GEN. HILBERT: Yes, ma'am. I mean, I -- I -- I think -- I think we kind of talked -- you know, talked through that one a -- a little bit earlier but, you know, the -- the bottom line is -- is they are -- the -- they are -- they are a learning force and they are -- they are learning based off of the behavior they're seeing and the behavior they expect to see, and then they're making the adaptations that they need.

We start from a ground-based doctrine, where -- you know, a doctrinal approach with them as far as employment of the systems, and then they take that doctrinal approach and they apply it against the current situation they're in and then they come up with the -- the way they think they want to employ it going forward.

As far as specific examples, I -- I -- I don't really -- I'd prefer not to get into those.

Q: Just to follow up on that, are there also cases where your unit has been watching this fight unfold and learned from what the Russians are doing, not only to apply to your own training in the future but to teach to the Ukrainians?

GEN. HILBERT: We're absolutely paying attention to what has happened out there and we're absolutely incorporating the lessons observed and the lessons that we learned in the part of the training that we do, and that's across the whole force.

MR. KIRBY: OK, Barbara?

Q: Thank you. My first question might go back to some of your original years of training with Ukrainians, pre-invasion, and perhaps you can address it and address it more recently as well. How do you assess their electronic warfare capabilities and whether the EW equipment, such as secure communications, you've provided them has been a help to them?

GEN. HILBERT: Yeah, ma'am, I'm -- I'm afraid I'm -- I'm -- I'm not really in a position to discuss that. I -- I don't -- you know, again, they're -- they are learning on the battlefield and -- as all of us are and all of us are paying attention to what happens in the electromagnetic spectrum and then we -- we -- we take the -- the measures that would be prudent to survive in that environment, where you know you're at risk because of any number of -- of very obvious threats.

Q: And if I could just quickly follow up -- actually, Kirby, I'm not sure I really did hear an answer to Tony's question -- are you able -- was your answer to Tony Capaccio "yes, that training on using drone technology is incorporated in the training that you're giving them?" Is that a yes or a no on drones?

GEN. HILBERT: So again, we're -- we're training on those three systems and what I would say is the -- on the observer piece, we are -- we are training them on how to use observers, whether they are air-based or ground-based or -- or any other observers into their -- what they are doing.

MR. KIRBY: OK, last question to Courtney.

Q: Hi, thanks. Are -- observers are drones, is that what that means? Unmanned systems?

GEN. HILBERT: Observers are anything that can observe a target.

Q: So what -- what we would call an unmanned drone? I know we've -- I know that we've been -- the nomenclature for what a -- a drone or unmanned system or all of that changes about every seven and a half seconds, but when you -- I just want to be clear that we're -- that we're characterizing this correctly. You're talking about unmanned -- unmanned systems that the U.S. has announced they're providing to the Ukrainian military?

GEN. HILBERT: I've -- I'm -- I'm literally talking about anything that can observe a target, from manned, unmanned. Anything that can observe a target is an observer.

Q: OK. And so that would also include radars ... 

(CROSSTALK)

MR. KIRBY: ... I think that -- I think that -- I mean, I -- I -- I understand the interest in this but I think he's answered these questions as -- as well and as ably as he can, and I think you can understand, as we've talked about before, you know, that -- that we're just not going to be able to get into every single operational detail of support to the Ukrainians, and I think you can understand that.

Do you have another question, Courtney?

Q: Can -- can I ask one more and then a -- yeah -- yeah, one more administrative is just simply can you -- can -- can someone either email around their names to us or can you ... 

MR. KIRBY: Yeah, we can do that ... 

Q: ... spell your names?

MR. KIRBY: ... we can do that.

Q: OK, that's the only thing. Thanks.

MR. KIRBY: All right -- all right, General and Colonel, thank you very, very much. You can see lots of interest in this topic. We went through every single person on the list. I'll toss it over to you if you have any final comments you want to make. You don't have to if you don't want to but I didn't want to just hang up without giving you a chance, if there's anything else you wanted to address real quickly with the press corps.

GEN. HILBERT: No, sir, I -- just -- really, for all of you, we -- we really, genuinely appreciate your interest and support in this. And, you know, we are -- we're very proud -- again, I -- I can't over -- overstate -- just proud of what we're able to do here and really proud of what -- what we're seeing with the Ukrainians that are training here. So -- so thanks again. Thanks, sir.

MR. KIRBY: Thanks very much, General. And -- and Colonel Hopkins, I appreciate your time. We'll let -- we'll take a couple of minutes to let you get off the line and take a break and then we'll -- for all of you who -- who are staying behind, we'll come back on in just a few minutes.