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 January 30, some of the M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks used in the drills are being transported to Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, where they will remain until a new NATO deterrent force is operational in the spring.
The exercises were planned before Donald Trump was elected U.S. president in November. Since then, allied officials have privately expressed worries about the administration's policy toward NATO and whether the White House will curtail the deployment.
The dispatching of U.S. troops and armor to Europe shows the allies are implementing their decision to create a small force to better detect any Russian moves in the Baltics and to show Moscow that the alliance's major powers stand behind its eastern members, said Adam Thomson, a former U.K. ambassador to NATO and the head of the European Leadership Network, a think tank.
In addition to ground forces, a fleet of 20 AH-64 Apache aircraft from the 1st Armored Division will deploy to Europe in February.
Meanwhile, Latvian soldiers have been giving their US counterparts a few tips on adapting to local conditions.