US to place additional armored brigade in Eastern Europe
The United States has decided to increase its contribution to European security and is planning to deploy one more armored brigade to Europe in addition to the two brigades already stationed here; the third brigade is slated to be stationed in Eastern Europe.
At a recent press event at alliance headquarters in Brussels, Jack Hillmeyer, public affairs advisor to the US Mission to NATO, said that effectively there will soon be three armored brigades of US soldiers in Europe — one of which will be stationed in Eastern Europe — in addition to equipment for a fourth brigade, reported Estonian daily “Eesti Päevaleht” on Thursday (link in Estonian).
Currently, one of the two armored brigades already present in Europe is stationed in Italy; the other is in Germany. The third is slated to be stationed in Eastern Europe, formally on a rotating but effectively on a permanent basis, the paper explained.
“We have had a brigade present earlier, but not on a consistent basis. One would leave, a few months would pass, and then a new one would arrive. Now we would like for a unit to be present at all times, without break — heel to toe,” Hillmeyer confirmed in remarks published by Eesti Päevaleht.
The spokesman carefully avoided referring to the planned presence as permanent, as according to an agreement betwen NATO and Russia, the number of permanently stationed troops is not to be increased near alliance borders.
"Everything we have said is consistent with the agreements. We are not increasing the number of troops stationed permanently in Eastern Europe; our rotation there is simply continuing," he explained.
The final decision has yet to be announced regarding where the equipment for the fourth brigade will be held, however Hillmeyer commented that it will “likely [be] somewhere where we already have warehouses from the Cold War era — likely somewhere in Western Europe."
While Eastern Europeans may think it wiser to store military equipment as close as possible to potential conflict areas, i.e. on NATO’s eastern flank, the United States’ decision to the contrary spoke volumes about their assessment of the military capabilities of various Eastern European countries.
Experts have analyzed various potential scenarios, including the possibility that the equipment in question could fall into enemy hands if stored too far in the east. “Likewise,” Hillmeyer continued, “if the equipment were [stored] too far west, would it arrive quickly enough? Considering both scenarios, we have decided that the brigade will be stationed in the east and the equipment in the west.”
While international definitions of military unit size vary somewhat, a standard brigade in NATO consists of approximately 3,200 to 5,500 troops.