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US soldier helps Ukrainian fighter fix Javelin by phone half a world away


A Washington National Guardsman fulfilled a unique role recently by providing tech support so a Ukrainian soldier could fix his Javelin anti-tank missile system.

The story was first shared on Twitter by Steve Beynon with Military.com and involved a U.S. soldier with the Washington National Guard, who got a phone call from a Ukrainian fighter he’d met on a training exercise. The Ukrainian soldier needed help solving an issue with his javelin, and so they talked it through.

As Beynon wrote on Twitter, a half-hour later, the soldier got a call back from the Ukrainian fighter, who said that he’d gone on to blow up a Russian military vehicle.

“I can confirm that we did have a member that received a phone call from a Ukrainian counterpart,” Karina Shagren, a spokesperson with the Washington National Guard, told Task & Purpose. “One of them did call one of our members to receive some help.” Shagren was unable to confirm whether the Ukrainian soldier called back to say that he’d gone on to take out a Russian vehicle.

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It’s hard to imagine a more ubiquitous symbol of Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion than the Javelin anti-tank missile system. The weapon system was a big-ticket item in the United States’ initial military aid deliveries to Ukraine, with US and NATO members sending 17,000 anti-tank weapons, just weeks into Russia’s invasion. According to the latest stats from the Defense Department on military aid to Ukraine, the U.S. has sent more than 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems; more than 6,500 Javelin anti-armor systems; and over 20,000 other anti-armor systems.

As Task & Purpose’s Jeff Schogol previously reported, it can take just 30 minutes to learn how to use the weapon — or to troubleshoot a problem, as this recent story shows. And then there’s the weapon’s ability to strike targets head-on, or from above, which makes it all the more effective on enemy armor. 

As for why a Washington National Guardsman got an out-of-the-blue call from a Ukrainian fighter, the answer is pretty simple: They’d trained together. The Guardsman was one of roughly 160 members of the Washington National Guard’s 81st Brigade who took part in a multinational training exercise with Ukrainian forces in 2021, Shagren told Task & Purpose. 

U.S. troops working with partner forces is nothing new — with many training alongside Ukrainian soldiers in recent years, and even in the lead up to Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of the country

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