- US Army Deploys Tanks to Europe Ratcheting Up Tensions with Russia
by PETER KORZUN, http://www.strategic-culture.org/
On December 16, US tanks and armor vehicles arrived in the Netherlands to be deployed in a storage depot located in the province of Limburg. The facility, the former Eygelshoven military base near Kerkrade, will be used to keep and maintain tanks, armored vehicles and heavy artillery pieces for a US armored brigade combat team. In January, the US Army in Europe is due to deploy a total of 4,000 American troops and around 2,000 military vehicles on a rotational basis to Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and the Baltic nations. NATO forces will move to the Baltic States in early spring. In an overtly provocative move, an American battalion will be stationed in Poland near the border with Kaliningrad, Russia’s Baltic enclave.
The US Army is implementing the annual defense authorization act which approved a $3.4 billion spending plan to boost NATO forces, including reopening or creating five equipment-storage sites in the Netherlands, Poland, Belgium and two locations in Germany. In September, the US Army began to assemble more Army Prepositioned Stocks (APS) for permanent storage in Europe. The additional combat equipment will give the Army the option for another heavy armored brigade. Presently, it has only two light brigades in Europe: 173rd Airborne Brigade and the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment.
The US military has over 62,000 permanently assigned service members in Europe.
According to Lieutenant General Frederick Benjamin «Ben» Hodges, the US Army Commander in Europe, the prepositioned stocks would give US leaders a range of options to respond to a developing crisis. Pulling out the equipment from the Eygelshoven warehouses and putting it on a train toward a trouble spot could be a sign of American resolve that could help diffuse a crisis. The US forces plan to conduct more than 90 maneuvers with NATO allies and European partners next year, including Swift Response 17 in July to test the NATO rapid response units. The Swift Response exercise is designed to demonstrate NATO’s ability to respond to a crisis «within 18 hours of notification».
The deployment breaches the Russia-NATO Founding Act (1997). By signing the document NATO pledged not to seek »additional permanent stationing of substantial ground combat forces» in the nations closer to Russia «in the current and foreseeable security environment». Signed 20 years ago, the agreement appears all but dead amid the alliance’s push to beef up its military presence on its eastern flank.