US troops have begun arriving in Poland under a planned Nato operation less than a week after similar troop deployment in Germany.
American soldiers landed in Wrocław, home to a key Nato and Polish air base in south-west Poland. The troops will be followed by around 2,800 tanks and other pieces of military equipment which are being transported by land from Germany, reports The Independent.
The heavy troop deployment along Russia’s western border falls under Operation Atlantic Resolve, which was launched in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Under that banner, the US Army in Europe has been conducting training operations since May 2014.
The Polish embassy in Washington said the troops in Wroclaw were the first to arrive in Poland as part of Atlantic Resolve. This has been described as one of the largest movements of US troops to Europe since the Cold War.
Last week, at least 87 US tanks and 144 Bradley fighting vehicles were sent to Germany as part of the biggest transfer of American armour to the region since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Self-propelled howitzers and hundreds of other vehicles were also unloaded in the north German port of Bremerhaven. Some 3,500 troops from the 4th Infantry Division in Fort Carson, Colorado, are joining up with the equipment.
Lt Gen Tim Ray, deputy commander of US European Command, said: “Let me be very clear, this is one part of our efforts to deter Russian aggression, ensure territorial integrity of our allies and maintain a Europe that is whole, free, prosperous and at peace.”
The US troops are expected to be stationed at two training sites in western Poland in the short term before they are sent to sites at six other countries across the region.
Maj Gen Timothy McGuire, deputy commanding general of the US Army Europe, added: “This is a tangible sign of the United States’ commitment to maintaining peace on this continent.
“It is a sign of the US commitment to this alliance and to peace and prosperity in Europe.”
The arrival of the 3rd Armoured Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, will see the start of a continuous presence and back-to-back rotations of US troops and equipment in the region.
Among the deployments to Romania and Bulgaria will be the 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment – dubbed the ‘Iron Knights’ and the oldest armoured unit in the US Army.
The US is also increasing its presence in the Black Sea and in Western Europe at bases in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.
Tensions between Russia and the West have been heightened since the annexation of Crimea and the war in Syria, which put Washington and Moscow on opposing sides.