On April 4, 2014, Star and Stripes reported that the Obama administration was removing the remainder of U.S. battle tanks from Germany and, thus, from Europe.
Nearly five months later, the administration is reversing that decision.
Joseph Trevithick reports for Medium.com, Aug. 28, 2014, that as the Ukraine crisis deepens — the latest being Russian troops reportedly having crossed the border into Uraine (see satellite image above) — U.S. Army troops from the 1st Cavalry Division are headed for NATO’s eastern border bringing Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles all the way from Fort Hood in Texas.
Detachments from 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry, a so-called “combined arms battalion” with tanks and fighting vehicles, will spend the next few months training with U.S.’s friends and allies in the region. The force will also take over from U.S. paratroopers who have been in Eastern Europe since April. The Pentagon has been rotating troops through the region since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region earlier this year.
But the M-1 tanks and M-2 Bradley fighting vehicles are a new twist. This relatively small shipment of heavy gear from the States to Europe is probably a first in over 20 years. Previous troops from the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team had no heavy armor.
Last year, the ground combat branch pulled out the last permanent tank units in Europe. A pool of Abrams and Bradleys—the European Activity Set—in storage in Germany are the only such vehicles on the continent at present.
Until 1993, the Pentagon had prepared to blunt a Russian-led invasion by rushing thousands of troops across the Atlantic. During the Cold War, the Army planned to send large units to fight in Germany. Now, smaller company-sized elements from 2–8 Cav—between 100 and 200 people each—are on their way to Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Germany.
Washington hopes these training exercises will reassure its European allies as the crisis in Ukraine simmers. The Pentagon says pro-Russia insurgents fighting Kiev are getting “tanks, armored personnel carriers, rocket launchers, air defense equipment and other heavy weapons” from Russia.