500 more US troops deploy to Europe as Russia’s war on Ukraine continues

Another 500 troops are bound for Europe, the Pentagon said Monday, in support of NATO nations as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues into its second week.

The new deployment is not in response to changes on the ground, a senior defense official told reporters, but is among some 12,000 troops who have been placed on heightened alert to deploy since early February.

“These facilitators were already sort of queuing to get in,” the official said. “Again, this fully supports our efforts to be able to defend NATO airspace if necessary.”

They understand:

  • An unknown number of KC-135 Stratotankers heading for Souda Bay, Greece, with 150 airmen from Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, WA.
  • Air support operations to Romania and Poland with 40 troops from Fort Stewart, Georgia.
  • 300 soldiers from an artillery company from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and a maintenance company from Fort Stewart, Georgia, to support the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division , who left for Germany from 27 February.

The 500 soldiers are part of a commitment of 7,000 that the Ministry of Defense announced on February 25.

The move brings to 14,500 the total number of US troops activated to support NATO nations, or more specifically as part of the NATO Response Force, since February. They are spread from Estonia at the northern end of the NATO border to Romania.

On Monday, the official said, the Defense Ministry estimates that nearly 100% of the 190,000 Russian troops gathered along the Ukrainian border earlier this year entered the country.

At the same time, Russian efforts to advance and take major population centers continue to be slow. Despite fighting outside cities, the official said, no major population centers are under Russian control and Ukrainian airspace continues to be at stake.

“It looks like the Russians are increasing their use of long-range fire to supplement or compensate for the lack of ground movement they’ve had and the lack of air superiority, which they don’t enjoy,” the said. the official.

Russia has launched more than 625 missiles, the official added, including some targeting civilian infrastructure and residential areas.

“And then on the convoy, I don’t have an update for you,” the official said. “We think it’s still stalled, still not moving, and was designed primarily as a supply convoy. There were combat elements in there, but again, the convoy isn’t going anywhere, and it hasn’t been anywhere, significantly over the weekend.

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at the Military Times. It covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership, and other issues affecting service members. Follow on Twitter @Meghann_MT

Mary I. Bruner