US tests new rapid-deployment strategy in Europe

The U.S. has upped its military presence in Europe alongside NATO allies since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Some 34,000 American military personnel are currently stationed in Germany. 

Dorothee Thiesing/AP
Soldiers from the 1st Armored Division, based in Fort Bliss, Texas, arrive at Berlin's Tegel airport on March 21, 2019. More than 300 American soldiers are involved in testing a new U.S. strategy to rapidly deploy troops in support of NATO allies.

More than 300 U.S. soldiers arrived Thursday in Germany from their base in Texas in the first test of a new American strategy to rapidly deploy U.S.-based troops to Europe to bolster the NATO deterrent against possible Russian aggression.

The soldiers, from the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Armored Division, based in Fort Bliss, were part of a group of 1,500 to arrive this week in Berlin via charter aircraft, and are on their way to Poland for maneuvers with local forces.

They were only given orders to move out about a week ago. The Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and other equipment they will be using are being brought in from a pre-positioned location in the Netherlands.

The soldiers were welcomed at Berlin's Tegel airport by U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell, U.S. Major General John L. Gronski, and Major General Carsten Breuer from the German Military Bundeswehr.

"The purpose is really all about readiness, building readiness, and also inter-operability with our NATO allies such as Germany and Poland, two very essential allies in the NATO alliance," said Mr. Gronski, who is a deputy commanding general for the U.S. Army National Guard.

The 1st Armored Division was based in southern Germany for decades during the Cold War and was the last American division to return back to the U.S. in 2011 as Washington decided to focus on smaller, lighter units meant to be able to react more nimbly to modern threats. Today there are some 34,000 American military personnel stationed in Germany, down from a Cold War high of more than 250,000.

Among the soldiers who arrived Thursday was Staff Sergeant Matthew Scarbrough from Amarillo, Texas.

"I was stationed here for five years, so this is kind of like my second home, I love it here," Mr. Scarbrough told The Associated Press, adding that however, "the weather is way different from where I am from."

Following the Russian annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, the U.S. has again been increasing military activity in Europe concert with NATO allies. That includes stationing four multinational battalion-size battlegroups in four eastern nations of the alliance, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, led respectively by Britain, Canada, Germany, and the U.S.

In addition, as part of a U.S. proposed "readiness initiative," the alliance is working on plans to be able to deploy 30 battalions, 30 air squadrons, and 30 battleships within 30 days as reinforcements in case of conflict. NATO has also announced it is setting up two new military commands – one in Norfolk, Virginia, the other in Ulm, Germany – to better move troops and equipment across the Atlantic and around Europe in times of crisis.

Part of the plan to deploy troops quickly involves having tanks and other vehicles, as well as ammunition and other supplies, pre-positioned in Europe to cut down on any logistical preparations.

"Our ability to rapidly surge combat-ready forces into and across the theater is critical in projecting forces at a moment's notice to support the NATO alliance," U.S. Army Europe said in a statement.

Once in Poland, the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team will conduct live-fire maneuvers over the coming weeks with Polish troops in the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area in the country's northwest.

"I'm excited to be back here. Four years ago as the battalion commander ... I was in a different battalion and we trained in Eastern Europe, actually part of our unit was in Poland," said Colonel Chad Chalfont.

Following the exercises, the U.S. troops will return home and their equipment will be returned to Eygelshoven, Netherlands.

This story was reported by The Associated Press. Dorothee Thiesing contributed reporting.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to US tests new rapid-deployment strategy in Europe
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today