Russia keeps creating more problems, and Washington keeps responding: The Russian invasion of Ukraine sent shockwaves throughout the world. Although the U.S. adroitly and aggressively used declassified intelligence to warn Ukraine and the world, the scale and brutality of the Russian attack are pushing the Pentagon and NATO to unprecedented measures.
A few days after the Russian invasion, NATO activated the NATO Response Force for the first time in its history. Now, the U.S. military has activated its strategic materiel stockpiles also for the first time ever.
Unleash the Strategic Reserves
At the end of the Cold War, the U.S. military downsized its presence in Europe. However, it maintained the necessary materiel to support large-scale operations should a contingency arise. That contingency is now here, and the Pentagon is pouring more troops into Europe to deter Russia and reassure NATO allies and European partners.
Although the troops are deploying from the U.S., the materiel that they will be using is already stationed in Europe—and now it has been activated.
For the past weeks, the 405th Army Field Support Brigade has been preparing for the incoming troops by activating the Army Prepositioned Stock-2 sites, which are capable of outfitting an entire armored brigade combat team.
The strategic reserves at the Army Prepositioned Stock-2 sites include hundreds of M1 Abrams tanks, M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, Paladin M109A6 self-propelled howitzers, supply trucks, and other vehicles.
“The execution of APS-2 ECHA operations is a complex and challenging task that truly requires a robust team effort to ensure mission success. Here in the Grafenwoehr Training Area my battalion is executing this mission with the support of our three sister battalions, our brigade headquarters, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria, 7th Army Training Command, 624th Movement Control Team, 16th Sustainment Brigade, 409th Contracting Support Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Army Sustainment Command and numerous other organizations,” Lieutenant Colonel Rebecca Milkowski, the Army Field Support Battalion-Germany commanding officer, said in a press release.
“It is incredible to see so many diverse organizations come together to enable our team to rapidly receive, stage and issue an ABCT’s worth of equipment to 1st ABCT, 3rd Inf. Div. in support of operations here in Europe,” Milkowski added.
More Troops to Europe
In addition to the roughly 15,000 troops that the Pentagon has already sent to Europe as reinforcements, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced the deployment of another 500.
“These additional forces are going to be positioned to respond to the current security environment in light of Russia’s renewed aggression against Ukraine, and again, to reinforce deterrence and defensive capabilities of NATO, particularly the eastern flank,” a senior U.S. defense official said on Monday.
“As always, these are not permanent moves, and we’re going to adjust the posture as conditions evolve. We’ve said that from the get-go. And to remind, nothing has changed about President Biden’s very clear direction that we will not be putting U.S. troops in Ukraine. These additional forces are going to be going to NATO to shore up capabilities that are already there,” the senior U.S. defense official added.
Coupled with the troop reinforcements of the past few weeks, these additional troop deployments bring the total number of U.S. forces in Europe to approximately 100,000. These are a combination of permanently stationed or emergency deployed forces.
The U.S. European Command (EUCOM) normally has about 60,000 troops under its command.
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.