How Biden reluctantly agreed to send tanks to Ukraine

Discussing the internal deliberations, some Pentagon officials were taken aback by German officials publicly acknowledging the link between the Abrams and the Leopard, one official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the internal deliberations. Officials had assumed the communications would only be internal, he added.

As of Monday, officials said Austin and Milley had agreed to send American tanks to Germany. To make a point – or be seen to make a point – Mr. Austin called Mr. Biden’s proposal on Monday to send Abrams tanks.

While some lawmakers have suggested the U.S. only needs to send in one Abrams tank to unlock the German Leopard, Pentagon leaders say that doesn’t make sense. If the US is going to send its most advanced tank system, it should send a “combat-ready” battalion, one official said.

A Ukrainian battalion has 31 tanks, the number the U.S. agreed to send, Pentagon officials said.

A few details still need to be worked out. On Wednesday, Assistant Secretary of the Army Douglas R. Bush told reporters that the Army had not yet decided which specific model of the Abrams tank would be delivered.

Tanks in the Army’s inventory may need remodeling — but they don’t need to be built from scratch by General Dynamics. The Army has more than 1,000 Abrams tanks that are either ready for combat or in various states of partial construction ready to be converted for use in Ukraine.

The Army has to choose between Abrams tank variants with different electronics and different turrets, sir. Bush said senior Pentagon officials would make a decision in the coming weeks.

Procuring the tanks will take months, officials said, giving U.S. forces time to train Ukrainian soldiers on how to operate and maintain them. Pentagon officials said Wednesday that it was unclear whether the training would take place in Germany, the United States or both.

Eric Lipton Contribution report.

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