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    How to Fix a Howitzer: US Offers Help Line to Ukraine Troops

    How to Fix a Howitzer: US Offers Help Line to Ukraine Troops

    A military IN SOUTHEASTERN (AP) — On the front lines in Ukraine, a soldier was having trouble firing his 155 mm howitzer gun. So, he turned to a team of Americans on the other end of his phone line for help.

    “What do I do?” he asked the U.S. military team member, miles away at a base in southeastern Poland. “What are my options?”

    Using phones and tablets to communicate in encrypted chatrooms, a rapidly growing group of U.S. and allied troops and contractors are providing real-time maintenance advice — usually speaking through interpreters — to Ukrainian troops on the battlefield.

    In a quick response, the U.S. team member told the Ukrainian to remove the gun's breech at the rear of the howitzer, and manually prime the firing pin so the gun could fire. He did it and it worked.

    The exchange is part of an expanding U.S. military help line aimed at providing repair advice to Ukrainian forces in the heat of battle. As the U.S. and other allies send more and increasingly complex and high-tech weapons to Ukraine, demands are spiking. And since no U.S. or other NATO will send troops into the country to provide hands-on assistance — amid worries about being drawn into a direct conflict with Russia — they've turned to virtual chatrooms.

    The U.S. soldier and other team members and leaders stationed at a base in Poland spoke last week to two reporters who were traveling with Gen….

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