US places 8,500 troops on heightened readiness to deploy to Europe amid escalation threat

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd J. Austin placed 8,500 US service members to heightened preparedness to deploy given Russia’s continuing provocations along its border with Ukraine, the Pentagon press service reported on Monday.

ПPentagon press secretaty John F. Kirby during briefing on 24 January 2022.
Photo: Marine Corps Sgt. Taryn Sammet, DOD

According to Pentagon press Secretary John F. Kirby, the 8,500 troops are based in the United States and would be part of the NATO Response Force, if that group is activated. The American forces would be in addition to the significant combat-capable US forces already based in Europe ‘to deter aggression and enhance the alliance’s ability to defend allies and defeat aggression if necessary’, Kirby said.

If the NATO force is activated, Austin’s order would allow the United States to rapidly deploy additional brigade combat teams, along with units specializing in logistics, medical, aviation, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, transportation and more.

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Kirby stresses that the decision has been made to put these units on higher alert and higher alert only.

“No decisions have been made to deploy any forces from the United States at this time,” the Pentagon representative emphasized.

John Kirby called the above mentioned measures ‘prudent’and noted that the United States and its allies had a good ‘site picture of the Russian moves to surround Ukraine. In his opinion, there is still ‘time and space’ for negotiations to defuse the situation, and Kirby urged Russian leader Vladimir Putin to do that.

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