The United States is attempting to speed up the delivery of M1A2 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, an administration official said on Tuesday.
President Joe Biden announced on Jan. 25 that the U.S. would give them 31 M1A2 Abrams tanks, though defense officials have warned that it would likely take longer than a year for them to arrive on the battlefield.
“The Pentagon is working as fast as they can, and I think they’ll have more to say here soon about adjustments they’re making to try to see if we can get Abrams tanks to Ukraine a little bit faster than previously expected,” National Security Council coordinator John Kirby told MSNBC. “So we’re working on that. There’s some changes that you can make to process, to sort of speed that up, and again, I’ll let the Pentagon speak to that.”
Basic training on the tank takes 16 weeks, and that’s just learning how to operate it, he said.
“Then you have to know how to maintain it,” Kirby added. “Then you have to have a supply chain setup to actually keep the parts and supplies going while you’re in combat, while you’re fighting, and while these tanks are no doubt going to be taken some hits. So there’s a lot that has to be considered when we get them an advanced system.”
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said in late February that the tank deliveries will likely take more than a year.
“None of the options that we’re exploring are weeks or two months,” she said, according to Defense News. “There are longer timelines involved, but I think there are options that are less than two years, less than a year and a half.”
Earlier this month, Doug Bush, the Army’s acquisition chief, said they’re sending the “whole package,” which “includes ammunition, vehicles to maintain it, fuel, you have to do the training on the system so that it can be sustained in combat.”
He noted the U.S. will likely not say when the delivery will occur because “we don’t want to give the Russians certainty about when something’s going to arrive, but efforts are underway to do it as quickly as possible.”
Kirby said during the interview the Biden administration has not changed its position not to provide Ukraine with F-16 aircraft.