US reinforcements arrive this weekend

To help bolster Latvia’s security, 25 soldiers from a tank company of the U.S. Army’s 3rd Brigade have already arrived in Latvia, while 225 more troops are due to arrive in Latvia on February 5, LETA was told at the U.S. Embassy in Riga.

The embassy’s representatives said that the 225 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment along with their military equipment and support units from the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team are on their way to Latvia. The American soldiers will be stationed at the Adazi military base just outside Riga.

“25 soldiers arrived already on January 29, and the remaining 225 soldiers will arrive in Latvia on February 5,” the embassy’s representatives said.

Defense Ministry spokesman Kaspars Galkins told LETA earlier that a company of the U.S. Army’s 3rd Brigade would arrive in Latvia with armored vehicles at the end of February. This will the next rotation as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve replacing soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade, Galkins said.

These soldiers will stay in Latvia until the Canada-led multinational NATO battle group arrives in Latvia, the Defense Ministry representative said.

The Wall Street Journal reported at the end of last month that the U.S. Army will send tanks this week to the Baltic countries in the largest such deployment since the Cold War.

The step is aimed at reassuring America's European allies that Washington remains committed to their defense. After joint U.S.-Polish exercises in northern Poland on Monday, some of the M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks used in the drills will be transported to Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, where they will remain until a new NATO deterrent force is operational in the spring.

In addition, Latvia's military news portal, Sargs.lv has given details of a Baltic-wide route march called Exercise Bayonet Vanguard.

The event "symbolizes the transfer of authority from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade to 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. The road march conducted in each Baltic nation by the Sky Soldiers in the east and the simultaneous arrival of the Abrams tanks from the west will ensure that there is continued presence of US forces."

"Sky Soldiers" is a name used for airborne soldiers or paratroopers.

Each leg of the Winter March is 50.3km, spanning a total of four countries, and demonstrating NATO’s ability to move forces.

U.S. Paratroopers will march with Lithuanian Soldiers from Rukla to Trakai Castle, February 6-7, 2017. In Estonia, U.S. Paratroopers will march from Voka to Narva from Feb. 7-9, 2017. In Latvia, U.S. Paratroopers will march with the Latvian Land Forces in Rezneke, February 7-8, 2017.

"These routes were specifically chosen to demonstrate solidarity between NATO Allies. Throughout the movement, the Soldiers will interact with local populations and reassure them of the continued U.S. commitment to the Baltic States and NATO. The march will conclude with a consolidation of forces and the establishment of the Armor battalion across the Baltics," Sargs.lv reported.

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