Conference room in Germany turns into nerve center for Western arms shipments to Ukraine

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PATCH BARRACKS, Germany, May 24 (Reuters) – Two blocks from a casino, Burger King is a medium-sized, blue-carpeted venue that until four months ago was sometimes used for welcome personnel commencing their work at European Command Headquarters.

The fourth floor room of General Bernard Rogers’ conference center on a US Army base in Germany has become the focus of Western efforts to donate billions of dollars in weapons and non-lethal aid to Ukrainian forces to help kyiv repel the invasion of the country by Russia. .

On Tuesday, two text reporters accompanying US Undersecretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks gained access to the US-British-run arms transfer facility.

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The room, which operates 24 hours a day and contains around 100 military personnel from two dozen countries, is lined with television monitors fixed to the ceiling, with small teams working on different parts of the gigantic operation to move weapons to Europe and possibly in Ukraine. hands.

The United States alone has rushed $3.9 billion worth of weaponry to Ukraine since the February 24 Russian invasion. Earlier this month, President Joe Biden signed a bill to send $40 billion in additional military, economic and humanitarian aid to Kyiv.

None of the weapons are physically located at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, and the room acts as a logistics hub to coordinate the flow of weapons.

A group of soldiers, seated next to British, American and Ukrainian flags, are responsible for intelligence on Russian operations in Ukraine.

Another group seated near a “Secret” sign on the wall tracks weapons and non-lethal aid entering and around Europe from more than 40 countries. Other troops log into a newly created computer system that allows Ukrainian forces to make weapon requests.

In a sign of the preparedness of the United States and its allies for the continuation of the conflict, a new team was recently created to try to anticipate the future needs of Ukraine.

Fewer than five Ukrainian military personnel work at the center as liaisons, a US official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“(It) probably started out as just deconfliction, but now I’m really thinking in terms of leveraging the capacity that the international community can bring,” Hicks told reporters after touring the coordination room.

As it became clear in November that Russia was fielding troops to potentially invade Ukraine, a senior US defense official struggled to deliver speedboats to kyiv.

“(I) must have made 5,000 phone calls,” the manager said.

“Since then, things have been better organized.”

When the coordination center began work in March, British and American officials said, it was relatively easy to move smaller weapons like Javelin anti-tank missiles.

As the war progressed and the fighting shifted largely to eastern Ukraine, longer range and heavier weapons, such as howitzer artillery systems, became the ‘primary objective.

“It has become more complex. At first it was ‘give us anything’, and now we are focusing more on capabilities,” said a UK official.

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Reporting by Idrees Ali; edited by Jonathan Oatis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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