The United States is considering plans to expand its assistance to Ukraine by sending more troops to train Ukraine's army, U.S Army Europe Commander Gen. Ben Hodges said Monday.
The plans call for sending an additional battalion-sized U.S. force, or about 300 troops, to join the 300 U.S. troops already in the country.
The U.S. has 300 paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade near Lviv training Ukraine's interior, or national guard, forces.
The additional U.S. troops would be used to expand the training program from just the country's interior forces, which defend Ukraine's infrastructure, to its larger army, which is fighting the Russian military and Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country.
Hodges emphasized that the training "would look similar to what we are doing now," such as training on combat life saving and surviving in complex electronic warfare environments.
For the last several months, after an initial onslaught and advance by Russian forces in the Donbass region, the country has been in a relative steady state — where limited but regular rocket fire or small arms fire kills small numbers of Ukrainian forces daily, but no major offensive operations are taking place.
Hodges said Russia has used the time to insert large numbers of artillery and trained fighters in the region, setting up the possibility for another round of an offensive, but "nothing that tells us [an attack] is imminent or inevitable," Hodges said.
He was careful not to say the trained forces would receive arms or offensive capabilities in the U.S.'s continued position not to provide lethal support to Ukraine. The program under consideration, which Hodges said would better enable Ukraine's army to withstand attacks from Russia, may be to hold the relative steady state and deter Russia from another escalation.
"I think this is the new norm for the next two, three, four years," Hodges said.