Stars and Stripes/Associated Press
January 28, 2023
How to fix a howitzer: US offers help line to Ukraine troops
A MILITARY BASE IN SOUTHEASTERN POLAND – On the front lines in Ukraine, a soldier was having trouble firing his 155 mm howitzer gun. So, he turned to a team of Americans on the other end of his phone line for help.
“What do I do?” he asked the U.S. military team member, miles away at a base in southeastern Poland. “What are my options?”
…a rapidly growing group of U.S. and allied troops and contractors are providing real-time maintenance advice….to Ukrainian troops on the battlefield.
In a quick response, the U.S. team member told the Ukrainian to remove the gun’s breech at the rear of the howitzer, and manually prime the firing pin so the gun could fire. He did it and it worked.
The exchange is part of an expanding U.S. military help line aimed at providing repair advice to Ukrainian forces in the heat of battle….
The U.S. soldier and other team members and leaders stationed at a base in Poland spoke last week to two reporters who were traveling with Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when he visited the facility…..
Fixing a howitzer, the repair team said, has been a frequent request from Ukrainian troops on the front lines. The need for help with weapons as been growing. Just a few months ago, there were just a bit more than 50 members of what they call the remote maintenance team. That will surge to 150 in the coming weeks, and the number of encrypted chat lines has more than tripled – from about 11 last fall to 38 now.