News / Europe

    US Army Paratroopers Deploy to Poland, Baltics

    FILE - U.S. soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiments of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Teams.
    FILE - U.S. soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiments of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Teams.
    Victor Beattie
    U.S. Army paratroopers begin joint exercises with their Polish counterparts Wednesday in Poland with additional companies deployed in the three Baltic States in what a Pentagon spokesman called a “tangible expression” of the U.S. commitment to Europe.  Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Admiral John Kirby said the decision follows what he called Russia’s “aggression” in Ukraine and is a way to reassure U.S. allies and partners.
     
    Kirby said a company of about 150 members of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, based in Italy, will be part of a “rotational” U.S. military presence in Eastern Europe in the wake of tensions over Ukraine.
     
    "This exercise is the first in a series of expanded U.S. land force training activities in Poland and the Baltic region that are scheduled to take place in the next few months and beyond. Additional companies from the 173rd will move in the coming days to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia for similar exercises," said Kirby.
     
    Initially, some 600 troops will take part in what Kirby called a “persistent rotational presence” that will last about one month. He added that fresh troops will then move in, and this presence could last a year or more.
     
    The spokesman said the United States is in consultation with its NATO allies and the force could be expanded in size and scope of countries involved. He also stressed that the exercises were bilateral and run by the participating countries, not NATO.
     
    "Since Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, we have constantly been looking at ways to reassure our allies and partners, and these exercises, two points, they’re bilateral; they’re between the United States and the country in question. It’s not a NATO exercise and, number two; it’s in response to that need by Secretary Hagel reaching out and talking to [Supreme Allied Commander, Europe] General Breedlove, talking to [Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman] General Dempsey and looking for ways we can constantly reassure our allies and partners of our commitment to Article 5 to the alliance, but also to them and their security," said Kirby.
     
    Kirby said that while these exercises were added because of tensions in Ukraine, the U.S. unit involved has worked with all four European countries in the past.
     
    The Pentagon spokesman said the message of these exercises is an explicit one to the four countries involved, that the United States is serious about its obligations under Article 5 of NATO, even though they are not NATO exercises.
     
    "If there is a message to Moscow, it is the same exact message that we take our obligations very, very seriously on the continent of Europe," said Kirby.
     
    Kirby said Russia has done nothing to de-escalate the situation or make Ukraine and Europe any more stable. He said what would be helpful is if Russia would remove its forces from Ukraine’s borders and take concrete steps to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine.
     
    The Latvian government welcomed the Pentagon announcement, calling it “a fast and practical response.” Lithuania’s president said the deployments will “strengthen our readiness for collective defense and add to ensuring the safety of our people.”  Estonia’s defense minister said it will “significantly” increase his country’s security.
     
    Kirby said the United States is encouraging its NATO partners to look for opportunities to take similar actions for each other.
     
    He also said the United States is providing more than $14 million in non-lethal aid to Ukraine’s armed forces and state border guard.

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    Comments
         
    by: Alfie from: Boston
    April 25, 2014 2:43 PM
    One can only hope that the symbolism involved in this dispatch of 600 U.S. paras to four different nations remains another idiotic example of Obama commander-in-chiefness. This brings to mind the small garrison that the Allies kept in Berlin as they were threatened by Soviets that surrounded that German city during the Cold War. It is nonsense.

    by: Nathan from: Florida
    April 24, 2014 8:27 PM
    Meanbill
    You are clueless. I was in Iraq and Afghanistan and we were not hiding. Please do us all a favor and keep your ignorant, misinformed comments to yourself . The only one hiding was you on your couch.

    by: Chris from: Ontario, Canada
    April 23, 2014 2:16 PM
    They must send a full brigade. Not just a couple small units. We must put at the very least 20,000 on a permanent base. Pull them from Germany and start ratcheting up their mobile units, tanks and carriers. Put few Hundred General Dynamics Stryker's armed vehicles and an additional 100 fighters would help too.

    Russia isn't going to stop with Crimea. They are completely in control of all east Ukraine. They just signed the Geneva agreement to allow their Spetzna groups to plant Right Sector fake items and kill pro Russians for the grounds to send in forces.

    It was the Russians that killed in Kiev and it's ALL RUSSIA right now raiding building after building, then leaving then to their local paid puppets.

    Don't believe my every word go watch Vice news Russian Roulette they have 28 episodes of video shot live thoughout the Ukraine unrest.

    by: meanbill from: USA
    April 23, 2014 9:41 AM
    In response to the Russian threat in Ukraine, the US sends a (few hundred US troops) to Poland, for training exercises? -- One must wonder _ will they build those 30 foot high blast-proof walls to hide behind, like they did in Iraq and Afghanistan? _ and send some killer drones, to target certain individuals? NATO is powerless to do anything to stop the Russian advance in Ukraine _ and NATO refuses to let the opposing Ukrainians have honest negotiations with each other, on the future of Ukraine? -- (WHY?)

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