US to speed up troop deployment to Baltics, Poland, Romania

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The United States has decided to accelerate the deployment of troops to Poland, the Baltic states and Romania as part of raising the security of the region, Polish and U.S. defense officials said Wednesday, reported LETA.

Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz made the announcement following talks with the commander of U.S. land troops in Europe, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, in Zagan, western Poland, where some of the troops will be deployed. It will be an Armored Brigade Combat Team from Fort Carson, Colorado. Another U.S. force, a battalion, will be deployed April 1 to Orzysz, in the northeast.

Hodges said the troops will arrive in the German port of Bremerhaven on Jan. 6 and will be immediately deployed to Poland, the Baltic states and Romania. Their transfer will be timed and treated as a test of "how fast the force can move from port to field," he said.

"I'm confident in the very powerful signal, the message it will send (that) the United States, along with the rest of NATO, is committed to deterrence," Hodges said.

He said the armored brigade has already moved out of its Colorado base and is loading on ships.

"I'm excited about what my country is doing and I'm excited about continuing to work with our ally, Poland," Hodges said.

Poland and the Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have been uneasy about increased Russian military operations in the region, especially after its 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, and have requested U.S. and NATO troops' presence on their territory as a deterrent. The alliance and the U.S. insist the troop presence is not aimed against anyone, but Russia has threatened measures in response.

The U.S. troops had previously been expected in mid- or late January.

"I am very happy that a decision has been taken by the U.S. side for an earlier deployment," Macierewicz said.

Hodges said on Tuesday that northern Germany will serve as the logistics center for the U.S. units to be stationed in central and eastern Europe.

At the NATO summit in Warsaw in July alliance members decided to put four multi-national battalions of one thousand personnel each on the alliance's eastern flank. The battalion to be deployed in Poland will be led by the United States.

In addition the United States announced that an armored brigade normally based in Colorado will be stationed in Poland.

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