According to Ukrainian commanders and Western volunteers, the United States’ wartime customer service is insufficient since the Ukrainians’ Javelin missile launchers were dysfunctional and no one in their unit could fix them.
Mark Hayward, a U.S. Army veteran, and volunteer trainer, is outraged that the Pentagon, which has given over 5,000 Javelins to Ukraine, hasn’t done more to ensure that soldiers fighting Russian forces get help when needed, as reported by The Washington Post.
Antitank weapons symbolise the United States’ involvement in Ukraine for the crisis that has escalated into a full-blown war. However, timely logistical aid is insufficient, including training modules, spare batteries, and other essentials that the US military itself relies on.
According to Hayward, the Javelins shipped to Ukraine do not come with instruction cards to call a toll-free number if the weapons malfunction or require repair. There’s no such card in any of the equipment, and training cadres from multiple units have told him they’re not aware of any Javelin support line, he claims.
The call centre is a valuable resource for US troops who cannot fix problems on their own. It is unacceptable that the Biden administration would not give the same level of support to Ukraine, according to Hayward.
Queries about the level of technical and logistical support offered to Ukraine’s military, as well as whether the support-line cards were removed before the Javelins’ transfer, were not answered by the Defense Department. However, the issue has piqued the interest of at least one American legislator.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) asked Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin if adequate training systems were provided to Ukraine during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing in May, citing a letter from Ukraine’s defence intelligence agency.
The Pentagon later informed Murkowski’s office that US defence officials had raised the issue with the Ukrainian defence minister’s office, which stated that further training systems were not required. However, Murkowski noted that her staff deduced from the Pentagon’s response that training systems had been sent.
“As we have sent more Javelins into Ukraine, are we keeping up on the training? Is that answer still accurate today? I don’t know,” she said. “We need to make sure these questions are being asked.”
Requests for comment from the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and the armed forces were not returned.
According to some Ukrainian servicemen, their demands are being addressed. Anatoliy, who supplied comments on the condition that his full name not be revealed due to military protocol, said his short Javelin training course and subsequent refreshers were sufficient. Anatoliy indicated that his command’s maintenance crew fixes broken launch units and that their battery and coolant supplies are enough.
“We do not have direct access to the manufacturer,” he said, “and we do not need it.”
As the fight in Ukraine has mostly been fought with howitzers and rocket launchers, antiarmor weaponry has grown increasingly important.
Moreover, Hayward has communicated with Murkowski regarding the inadequate supply of launch unit batteries. He told her about jury-rigging motorcycle batteries, duct tape, and wire to keep the training going.
There has got to be a better way,” Murkowski said. “We can’t send them this sophisticated weaponry and not give them the appropriate resources for training.”
While teaching a Javelin training in March, Hayward got a call from a soldier in southeast Ukraine who was taking cover from Russian tank fire. Unfortunately, the soldier’s launcher malfunctioned. Hayward claimed he couldn’t assess the situation over the phone, so the soldier was forced to leave, and he doesn’t know what happened to him.
Hayward argues that either Lockheed or the US military should arrange frequent video chats with Ukrainian troops to resolve technical issues with the Javelin or to provide more extensive training to the growing number of personnel who need it.
“Every day we delay, these people’s lives continue to be at risk,” Hayward said. “We’re smarter than this. We’re better than this.”