American forces will remain in strategic European sites through 2015.
In April, 2014, the U.S. military deployed around 600 personnel to Europe. This was in response to Russia’s involvement in Crimea’s separation from Ukraine, and subsequent intimidation of the fledgling Ukrainian government and members of the European Union. These forces are intended to emphasize the U.S.’s commitment to their NATO allies, and are in addition to the 29,000 American service members who are permanently stationed in Germany, Italy, and Belgium.
Recently, the commander of the US Army Europe, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, announced that American forces will remain in Poland and the Baltic states through 2015. Rotations for troop movements have already been planned. The approximately 600 U.S. Army troops from the 1st Cavalry Division, who are currently stationed in Poland and the Baltic countries, are scheduled to depart in mid-December, after their three month stint. These soldiers will be replaced by personnel from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, based in Vilseck, Germany, who will then turn over duties to the 3rd Infantry Division next spring.
The general also said that around 150 tanks and armored vehicles will be sent to the Baltic states and Poland, as part of what is being called “Operation Atlantic Resolve.” Along with the troop and equipment positioning the U.S. military will also continue conducting joint exercises with NATO allies.
According to reports, 50 tanks and armored vehicles are already in place and another 100 M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles will be strategically staged around Europe.
In recent months, European NATO allies have also deployed hundreds of troops for exercises. The alliance has also boosted its Air Force presence in the region. It is important that NATO safeguards its unity at this time. Since their gracious hosting of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Russia has meddled with and interfered with its smaller, less equipped neighbors, most notably Ukraine.
NATO has accused Russia of sending combatants to fight alongside separatists in eastern Ukraine. Moscow has always denied its involvement in the fighting, but has openly given rebels political backing and non-lethal supplies to support their cause against the Ukrainian government.
Military Connection would like to encourage everyone to keep our deployed service members in their thoughts and prayers. Through the holiday season and the rest of this year and through 2015, we hope for their continued well-being and safe return home.
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Military Connection: US to Remain in Baltics 2015: By Debbie Gregory