United States decides to accelerate troop deployment to Poland, Baltics, Romania
The United States had decided to accelerate the deployment of troops to Poland, the Baltic states, and Romania as part of raising the security of the region, Polish and U.S. defense officials said on Wednesday.
Polish defense minister Antoni Macierewicz made the announcement following talks with the commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, in Zagan, western Poland, where some of the troops will be deployed. It will be an armored brigade combat team out of Fort Carson, Colorado. Another U.S. unit, a battalion, will be deployed on Apr. 1 to Orzysz, in the northeast.
Hodges said the troops would arrive in the German port of Bremerhaven on Jan. 6, and immediately be deployed to Poland, the Baltic states, and Romania. Their transfer would be timed and treated as a test of how fast the force could move from port to field, Hodges said.
“I’m confident in the very powerful signal, the message it will send that the United States, along with the rest of NATO, is committed to deterrence,” Hodges said.
He said the armored brigade had already moved out of its Colorado base, and was loading on ships.
“I’m excited about what my country is doing, and I’m excited about continuing to work with our ally, Poland,” Hodges said.
Poland and the Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have been uneasy about increased Russian military operations in the region, especially after its 2014 annexation of Crimea, and have requested U.S. and NATO troops’ presence on their territory as a deterrent. The alliance and the U.S. insist the troop presence is not aimed against anyone, but Russia has threatened to take measures in response.
The U.S. troops were previously expected in mid- or late January.
“I’m very happy that the decision has been taken by the U.S. side for an earlier deployment,” Macierewicz said.
Hodges said on Tuesday that northern Germany would serve as the logistics center for the U.S. units to be stationed in central and eastern Europe.
At the NATO summit in Warsaw in July, alliance members decided to put four multi-national battalions of one thousand personnel each on the alliance’s eastern flank. The battalion to be deployed in Poland will be led by the United States.