Obama admin sends 600 “boots-on-the-ground” to E. Europe


Ben Watson reports for Defense One, April 22, 2014:

The Pentagon is sending about 600 U.S. troops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team to Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia in a show of support for Eastern European countries uneasy with Russian forces still lingering near Ukraine.

Eastern Europe Map

“Nothing we’ve seen out of Russia or their armed forces, is de-escalating the tension, is making things any more stable in Ukraine or on the continent of Europe,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters Tuesday.

The first steps of the increased U.S troop presence will occur in Poland and involves approximately 150 paratroopers from the 173rd, based in Vicenza, Italy. Those troops are expected to arrive Wednesday.

The 173rd, which has deployed once to Iraq and four times to Afghanistan since 2003, was already on call to help with NATO security in Europe, led by the alliance’s top military commander, U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove. The paratroopers will be conducting infantry exercises with their Polish counterparts, Kirby said. The other 450 troops — also from the 173rd — will arrive by next week to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

“This isn’t the first time that the 173rd has done exercises with these countries,” Kirby said. “So there’s a relationship there. But yes, these exercises were conceived and added onto the exercise regimen as a result of what’s going on in Ukraine.”

Kirby was asked if the troop deployment is meant to send a message to Russia, after the annexation of Crimea in Ukraine and subsequent buildup of Russian troops along its eastern border set off fresh worries in other former Soviet Union countries. “Any time you put troops on the ground and doing exercises, in this case for a month at a time, it’s more than symbology,” Kirby replied. “The kind of work that we’re going to be doing is real infantry training. And that’s not insignificant.” Still, he said the message is intended to reassure Eastern European allies, not to provoke Russia.

The additional U.S. troops will be maintaining a “persistent rotational presence” through at least the end of the year and maybe longer depending on how the situation in Ukraine develops. The exercises are part of a bilateral operation, and as such, not official NATO events, Kirby said. Regardless, he added, “You’re going to see more [troop and equipment deployments] coming through the alliance, but you’re also going to see more coming bilaterally.”

The Pentagon will also be sending one of its warships, the USS Taylor, to the Black Sea to backfill the guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook in the coming days. Tensions flared on April 12 when Russian fighter jets — ignoring repeated radio warnings from U.S. sailors — made multiple, close-range passes near the USS Donald Cook for nearly 90 minutes.

The White House announced Monday it would send another $8 million in aid to Ukraine, including vehicles, explosive disposal equipment, handheld radios and tactical gear.

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9 responses to “Obama admin sends 600 “boots-on-the-ground” to E. Europe

  1. Reblogged this on Fellowship of the Minds and commented:
    Having just removed the last U.S. battle tanks from Europe, the U.S. is not ready for either a cold or hot war with Russia over Ukraine, and Obama had already said that the U.S. and NATO have no plan to use force in Ukraine. So why is he sending 600 troops to 4 E. European countries bordering on Russia and Ukraine? Does he actually think the Russian Army, with 360,000 soldiers, would be deterred by our 600?


    • Not militarily. Even if there were battalions (as I suggested for Ukraine) the Russians could overrun them on the ground. The point is that forces of this size are a “tripwire” so the Russians will have to kill NATO troops if they invade Poland or the Baltics. And the US forces can certainly help in the training of indigenous forces to resist the kind of Spetsnaz tactics being used in Ukraine and Moldova. A Special Forces training group in each country would provide even better training. I would like to see troops from the UK, Italy, Norway and other NATO countries there too. Europe has to be willing to help in its own defense or we might as well scuttle NATO entirely and just fortify the British Isles.

      Obama has abandoned Ukraine and Moldova. It’s probably too late to save them. I expect Quisling governments to be set up there by the end of the year. But we can still hold onto Poland, Hugary and the Baltics if we act decisively.


  2. The Herd is the endearing moniker to which the 173rd Airborne Brigade has been referred since its deployment to Vietnam in 1965. Unfortunately, to send these troops into Eastern Europe as a show of strength to the Russians is a big joke, especially after our ‘battle tanks’ have been removed from theatre. I would be curious if any of the current members of this contingent are gay or female and what they would do if confronted by a like contingent of Speznatz. I daresay that perhaps the dilution of our armed forces, thanks to this administration and its allies like former Chairman Joint Chiefs Adm. Mullen, and certain politicians, could prove to be their undoing.


  3. If the photo is anything to go by, they are just going to “drop” in barehanded.


  4. anchorageknight

    This is phase THREE of deployment of ground forces to Eastern Europe. The present day equal of a Marine Ready Battalion – normally based in Spain instead of on an amphibious squadron as in my day – was sent to Ukraine more than a week ago. A few days ago it was reinforced by an extra company. This is a true Marine Air-Ground team: Marine combat units down to battalion include air elements – combat jets as well as rotary wing – tanks – and ground support assets. It is present for a variety of contingencies – including evacuation of friendlies. Most of all these forces serve as deterrents and tripwires: it is precisely the movement of US units (land, air and sea) that ended the Russian attempt to annex all of Georga in the Bush era. The US Army and Marines also have mobile at sea assets which have embarked heavy vehicles – enough for a brigade. The biggest ship in the US military just did an exercise here on the anniversary of the largest earthquake in North American history during human times (Anchorage 1964) – just to show it can land ANYTHING WITHOUT a port – and to train local agencies how to deal with such a thing – exercising how to request varous things to demonstrate that such a vessel can find virtually anything already embarked to deal with virtually any contingency (computerized automated container management). Do not be so sure there are no Army type tanks near Europe. There might be. .


  5. A. James Gregor, Ph.D. & Professor

    The deployment of a contingent of U.S. airborne troops to the Nato-allied nations of Eastern Europe clearly serves as a tripwire deterrent against any Russian attack. It serves to reassure the West that Russia will not attack Poland or the Baltic states in the near term. But that is not the present concern. (At present, there is absolutely no evidence that Putin has any such attack in mind.) It is hard to imagine how the symbolic paratroop deployment does anything to influence any decision by Moscow concerning the Eastern Ukraine. There is no suggestion that any Russian moves along the Eastern border of Ukraine would be countered by the token presence of U.S. troops in Poland or the Baltic states. The troop deployment looks like the administration’s way, once again, of “doing something” without really doing anything. The criticism that prompted this flurry of activity is that the administration has done little or nothing to defend the sovereign integrity of Ukraine; the administration’s response to the criticism is that it has sent troops to defend Poland and the Baltic states. The magician’s trick is to distract his audience. Clever, but still a trick.


  6. The tripwire theory makes sense, and this action also gives assurance to our new NATO members that we can be depended on. Another possibility is the anger of the American public will be easily aroused to the level of wanting war with Russia after the loss of American life (which could easily be false-flagged.)
    Our foreign policy in today’s world is constantly leading us through mine fields. And leadership is locating those mines, then directing us to step on them.


  7. Thank you StMA for this important post. Once again, the king of our country has set up a useless maneuver, which is simply, more deception. And as usual, he has missed the point, or in this case, has missed the country.


  8. Pingback: Obama admin sends 600 “boots-on-the-ground” to E. Europe | The Right Of The People

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