Shortly before Trump took office, a brigade was also quickly moved to Europe to demonstrate a rapid transatlantic troop buildup to protect against conjured Russian aggression
In the uncertainty about Trump’s foreign policy, the Obama administration also made a military policy statement in October 2016 with the largest shipment of ammunition since the Cold War in the form of 620 containers and the deployment of an additional armored brigade with 3,500 men and heavy equipment to Eastern Europe.
The reinforcement, considered the largest troop deployment since the Cold War, was intended to signal to Eastern European and Baltic states, as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, that the U.S. stands by the NATO commitment, but also to demonstrate to Russia that despite possible changes in U.S.-Russian relations, with Trump, the "collective security" and that the military presence and exercises are intended to maintain the conflict of power (Pentagon increases troops in Europe). Previously, the Pentagon budget for the European Rearance Initiative (ERI) was quickly increased to $3.4 billion, quadrupling before the election.
The transfer of the brigade, the first division arrived in Europe in early January via Bremerhaven, has once again shown that Germany remains a central hub for the U.S. military, was also, after all, intended as a provocative muscle play, as Russia has also moved strong troop units to its western border. Moscow reacted predictably to the arrival of the armored brigade, which was seen as a threat to national security by Kremlin spokesman Peskov.
In particular, he stressed that the threat is also taken seriously because a non-European state is moving troops to Russia’s European border. Russia conducted rough military exercises with tank units in the west of the country last week. More S-400 missile defense systems are also to be deployed in the west. Strategic forces are being equipped with new missiles, in parallel with the U.S. modernization of nuclear weapons.
Paladin tank howitzer arriving in Bremerhaven on 7. January. Image: DoD
Trump himself is unlikely to be able to withdraw troops on a coarser scale quickly, especially since his Defense Secretary Mattis has repeatedly stressed the importance of NATO, saying the commitments are unshakeable, transatlantic security vital. Russia and China were described by him as threats.
The Pentagon also wanted to demonstrate with the deployment of 3500 troops and 2700 vehicles and containers, including 87 Abrams and 144 Bradley tanks, that it is able to quickly reinforce the troops in Europe, should there be a military conflict with Russia. But one met, as the Wall Street Journal writes, with the "Iron Brigade" encountered unexpected difficulties. From Bremerhaven, vehicles and equipment will be shipped by rail, convoys and cargo ships to Poland, then distributed to seven countries once they reach combat readiness. Soldiers will rotate every nine months to avoid the agreement with Russia not to station permanent troops in Eastern Europe.
Arrival of the tanks in Poland. Image: DoD
But parts of the force will also remain in Germany. A unit of the combat brigade is also to be transferred to Grafenwohr. In addition, the Pentagon has announced that it will station an air combat brigade in Illesheim to support Operation Atlantic Resolve and other operations. From there, combat helicopters such as Chinooks and Blackhawks will be deployed to Latvia, Romania and Poland to enhance the alliance’s capabilities, "to strengthen the alliance’s ability to repel aggression". The command center for the rotating U.S. forces is also located in Germany, in Baumholder, Rhineland-Palatinate. In addition, weapons are stored in the so-called APS in Miesau and Dulmen and kept in stock for training and operations.
On 9. January, after a three-day journey, the first vehicles, according to the U.S. Army, arrived on a train in Drawsko Pomorskie and later in Zagan, Poland. They were, it was said, the first military vehicles of the USA in Poland. The soldiers were flown in.
Empty Batteries, Empty Tanks and Lack of Infrastructure Knowledge in Former Warsaw Pact Countries
The point, according to the U.S. military, is to demonstrate that soldiers and more than 2,000 pieces of equipment are being moved from Fort Carson in Colorado to Poland, where they can quickly make equipment combat-ready, "to repel the aggression of the enemy". Each battalion had been at the station for two days: "It went pretty fast", said Capt. Brian Lee, the commander of the 1st Bn., 68th Ar. Regt. "The whole brigade was loaded onto a train in two weeks."
Also Lt. Col. Stephen Capehart, commander of the 4th Infantry Division of the 1st Battalion, also declared on 16. January proudly that within 10 days they had already begun to arm. And on January 24. January on the importance of logistics for rapid supply and desired resupply.
Another picture is painted by the Wall Street Journal. Thus, 5 heavy vehicles were still standing in Bremerhaven, while the Army was considering how to transport them to Poland. Other difficulties were also revealed in the logistical difficulties in the cooperation with the Allies. One of the main problems seems to be the lack of information about the infrastructure in the European countries. But also tanks arrived with empty batteries, because they forgot to turn off the electronic systems. Some of them were not filled up with fuel, it can be amed that the tanks were practically empty.
"Now you see them, and now you don’t. Concealing 28-ton fighting vehicles and tanks in any type of terrain takes a high level of skill." Bradley Fighting Vehicle of the "Iron Brigade" in Poland. Image: DoD
Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the Army’s commander in Europe, told a conference in London that there was too little information about the infrastructure in countries that were once part of the Eastern Bloc. That could be difficult if tanks are to be moved from Poland to countries of the former Warsaw Pact that are now part of NATO. The knowledge gaps must be closed in order to quickly reinforce and direct troops in Europe, as was possible during the Cold War.
Moreover, the Army wants better intelligence on Russian troop movements. Since the end of the Cold War, it has no longer been a priority to, "to observe Russian barracks and the assembly of railroad cars". Now, apparently, it is. He expressed satisfaction, however, that despite some problems, which are not mentioned in more detail, the troops were ready to fight two weeks after the landing.