A small contingent of U.S. soldiers will deploy to Poland and Estonia for a series of upcoming ground exercises aimed at reassuring allies shaken by Russian intervention in neighboring Ukraine, according to a report.
The U.S. is planning to send a company sized Army element of roughly 150 troops to conduct drills with allies, spanning roughly two weeks respectively in both Poland and Ukraine, The New York Times reported Friday.
The land force exercises being planned by the Obama administration are part of a broader undertaking by NATO to beef up its presence in eastern Europe. It is unclear what U.S. unit will be taking part in the exercises in Poland and Estonia, but more details are expected to be announced next week, the Times reported.
On Wednesday, NATO said it would increase its presence in the region both on land, sea and air. Measures include plans for more fighter patrols over the Baltic nations and warships in the Baltic Sea and eastern Mediterranean.
One way to ensure a steadier presence of ground forces in the region is through a series of on-going troops rotations. The plan to send 150 troops to Poland and Estonia could be a first step with more such rotations to come in the future.
“There’s an entire range of possibilities and measures that are being considered,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said during a Thursday news conference at the Pentagon with Poland’s defense minister Tomasz Siemoniak. “Rotational basis of training and exercises are always part of that.”
One such possibility that has been under consideration is the deployment elements from the Texas-based 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division — the unit already designated as the U.S. contribution to the NATO Reaction Force — to maintain a steadier regional presence.
Warsaw is unlikely to be satisfied by such limited, rotational deployments. Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has urged NATO to station 10,000 troops in Poland.
19 April 2014
It appears as though the issue of US ground troops to Poland is a matter of "when" and not "if".
Posted by Brant at 15:53