The United States has established Security Assistance Group – Ukraine or SAG-U, a three-star command to oversee support to Ukraine. The new joint forces command will be stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany to handle weapons shipments, personnel training, and other related tasks for the Ukraine conflict.
The joint service command will be manned by personnel from across the military services. The members of this organization will be pulled from units and organizations in the United States from all of the military branches – Army, Marine, Navy, and Air Force. SAG-U will coordinate closely with the Ukraine Defense Contact Group – a coalition of 40 countries that the DoD created to assist Ukraine.
It will also be monitoring the use , disposition, and accountability of the more advanced weapons being provided to Ukraine – ensuring they don’t fall into Russian hands or get diverted from their intended purpose. This monitoring function could be performed, in part, by a small team located with the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv; most likely personnel from, attached to, or working in coordination with the Office of the Defense Attaché.
“The United States remains committed to supporting Ukraine’s near-term needs on the battlefield and its long term requirements to deter and defend against future Russian aggression. To maintain the historic level of our ongoing security assistance support for Ukraine, I’m pleased to announce that the department will establish the Security Assistance Group – Ukraine, what we will call SAG-U, which is a dedicated headquarters element in Wiesbaden, Germany and under U.S. European Command to coordinate our efforts.”Sabrina Singh, Pentagon deputy press secretary, November 4, 2022
Prior to the establishment of SAG-U, the 18th Airborne Corps, as well as other organizations, had been coordinating the training and equipping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The 18th Airborne Corps had deployed 300 personnel to Europe in February 2022. The use of the 18th Airborne Corps headquarters, under the command of Lt. Gen. Christopher Donahue, was a temporary solution and returned to Fort Bragg in late October. The SAG-U command offers a more enduring capability. Donahue remains in Europe, continuing his work until relieved by the new commander of the SAG-U.
A three-star general will likely be nominated (and confirmed) for the new command. The unit is supposed to be up and running by early 2023. In the meantime, the U.S. European Command is filling the gap between the departure of the element from 18th Airborne Corps and the full-time operational status of SAG-U. Lieutenant General Antonio A. Aguto, Jr. is considered a top candidate for the position. He currently is the commander of the First U.S. Army hqs at Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois.
The current U.S. troop level in Europe is around 100,000; an increase of 20,000 from the pre-war level a year ago. The troop level is likely to remain the same for several months, with continued rotations to provide security assurance for front-line NATO nations like Estonia, Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania – as well as providing training for Ukrainian troops in Poland, Germany, and elsewhere.
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Chase Smith, right, 8th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, marshals a K-loader toward a C-17 Globemaster III, assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, at Travis Air Force Base, California, Feb. 14, 2022. U.S. Airmen with the 60th Aerial Port Squadron and 8th Airlift Squadron load K-loaders onto the C-17. K-loaders are used to transport cargo into and out of aircraft. Under the direction of U.S. Transportation Command, the 60th Air Mobility Wing supported the 621st Contingency Response Wing during the movement of security assistance cargo to Ukraine via commercial cargo aircraft. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency coordinated the effort. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Karla Parra)
“US Department of Defense establishes Security Assistance Group – Ukraine in Wiesbaden”, U.S. Army Europe and Africa, November 16, 2022.
“US quietly announces new Ukraine command with 3-star general”, by Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, Responsible Statecraft, November 14, 2022.
U.S. Security Assistance to Ukraine, Congressional Research Service (CRS), October 21, 2022.