US to send 600 troops to Poland, Baltic countries
By Michael Hernandez, Wednesday, April 23, 2014
WASHINGTON D.C. – The U.S. is sending some 600 troops to Eastern Europe in a bid to “reassure” its European allies amid ongoing tensions with Russia.
Approximately 150 paratroopers will arrive in Poland tomorrow from the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), usually based in Italy, to commence exercises with Polish armed forces.
“This new exercise is the first in a series of expanded U.S. land force training activities in Poland and the Baltic region,” said John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary. “What we're after here is a persistent rotational presence in these exercises.”
The bilateral exercises are scheduled to take place throughout the coming months and beyond. Additional companies of 150 U.S. troops will move in to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia “in the coming days” to participate in similar exercises, according to Kirby.
All 600 troops will be sent in on rotational deployments. The U.S. is discussing additional troop deployments in other countries with its NATO allies, according to Kirby.
Tensions between the U.S., and its European allies, and Russia have reached heights not seen since the Cold War following Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, and what the U.S. and its allies maintain is the Kremlin’s stoking of tensions in Ukraine’s east.
“Since Russia's aggression in Ukraine, we have been constantly looking at ways to reassure allies and partners,” said Kirby.
Tuesday’s announcement is “a very tangible representation of our commitment to our security obligations in Europe and the messages to the people of those countries and to the alliance that we do take it seriously,” he said.
The USS Taylor, a frigate, will also take the place of the USS Donald Cook in the Black Sea, according to Kirby. Russian jets buzzed, or made low altitude passes over, the Donald Cook on April 12 in a move that U.S. officials said was “provocative and unprofessional”.
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