Nearly 64,000 US troops are poised in Europe to deploy on the continent’s eastern flank if President Biden makes such a call to counter growing Russian aggression on the border with Ukraine.
While Vladimir Putin has deployed 100,000 Russian troops to the border with Ukraine and continues to fuel fears that he will invade, the US may need to prepare its troops and its stockpile of weapons across Europe, including 40 warships, 175 planes and 90 tanks.
Military officials presented the commander in chief a plan to deploy up to 50,000 troops if the security situation deteriorates and Russia begins an invasion of Ukraine.
At the same time, the US told families of the US embassy to go home “because of the continued threat” of such an attack, the State Department said Sunday.
While numbers fluctuate due to changing withdrawals and deployments, as of September 2021, the US had approximately 175,000 troops stationed abroad. In total, almost 64,000 of those soldiers were stationed in Europe.
The US has about 750 military bases in 80 countries.
Command for the US’s 40 warships is based in Italy, and the US has mobilized all its forces on Russia by sending ships to the politically fraught Black Sea.
Germany hosts the largest deployment of US troops in Europe, and only Japan and America have more US troops there. There are 35,468 US troops in Germany – 21,585 Army, 13,009 Air Force, and a small number of Marine Corps and Marine Corps troops.
There are 21 US military bases throughout Germany, with the largest presence in Stuttgart, the headquarters of the United States European Command (EUCOM) and US Africa Command, and Ramstein, the headquarters of US Air Force operations in Europe.
And while Germany previously housed some 5,000 American tanks at the height of the Cold War in 1989, it is now permanently home to none.
The army temporarily deploys one armored brigade at a time, each on a nine-month rotation. A typical armored brigade consists of 90 M-1 tanks and 130 Bradley combat vehicles plus about 18 M-109 self-propelled howitzers.
But a problem remains: Europe’s aging bridges may not be ready for the 68-ton M-1 Abrams tanks. The military is struggling to procure more armored bridge layers to help these heavy vehicles pass.
The M-1 Abrams has been in service in war zones since 1980, while the Bradley Combat Vehicle is a heavily armed and armored troopship that launches fire at enemy lines to provide cover. The Howitzer is a 30-ton gun that can hit targets up to 30 kilometers away.
And although NATO has about 130 tanks, including the 90 American vehicles, Russia, even before its recent aggression, kept about 760 tanks within reach of NATO’s Baltic members.
Ukraine shares a border with four NATO countries: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.
Italy has the second highest US presence in Europe, with 12,436 troops, 4,081 military members, 4,742 air forces and 3,497 navies. The Port of Naples is the headquarters of the Sixth Fleet, or US Naval Forces Europe-Africa.
The Aviano Air Base is home to two US F-16 fighter jet squadrons. The F-16 is a popular air-to-air combat jet used by 25 air forces.
In the United Kingdom there are 9,576 American troops, almost entirely members of the Air Force with a small number of soldiers from other branches.
Spain has 3,423 US troops stationed there, Belgium has 1,143, Greece has 429, Portugal has 259, and Romania has 132. A handful of other countries have US troops less than 100.
There are also currently more than 150 US military advisers in Ukraine who have operated for years at a training ground near Lviv. It includes Special Operations troops, mostly army green berets, and National Guard trainers from Florida’s 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
While the US plans to quickly remove its military trainers from Ukraine if a large-scale Russian invasion takes place, it’s also possible that some US troops could stay to advise Kiev officials and provide frontline support, a US official told. the Times.
However, about 6,000 US troops are deployed in Eastern Europe on a rotating basis, of which about 4,000 are currently in Poland.
The US Sixth Fleet, which leads European Command, consists of approximately 175 aircraft and 40 warships. The European Command is headquartered in Germany.
According to Biden’s potential plan, between 1,000 and 5,000 soldiers would be sent to NATO countries such as Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, which border Russian territory.
The number of troops could then be increased to 50,000 if the security situation deteriorates, supported by new deployment of ships and aircraft.
The plan would not involve US troops deployed directly to Ukraine, and Biden would hate any new conflict following his disastrous withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan last year, The New York Times reports.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration is ordering 8,500 US troops to be ready for deployment in Eastern Europe, the Pentagon announced Monday.
The 68-ton M-1 Abrams has been in service in war zones since 1980
The Aviano Air Base is home to two US F-16 fighter jet squadrons. The F-16 is a popular air-to-air combat jet used by 25 air forces
A Russian rocket launcher fires during military exercises near Orenburg in Russia’s Urals in December. With tens of thousands of Russian troops near Ukraine, the Kremlin has left the US and its allies guessing about their next steps in the worst Russia-West security crisis since the Cold War.
The NATO Response Force consists of some 40,000 international troops spread over land, air, naval and Special Operations Forces (SOF) components.
“This is really about getting people ready to leave,” Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said at a news conference this afternoon. He said the majority of those troops would be ground troops.
He said they would be ready in case NATO activates the NATO Response Force (NRF) or in the event of a “deteriorating security environment.”
NATO, meanwhile, announced Monday that its members would deploy additional ships and fighter jets to Eastern Europe to counter Russia’s growing presence.
Vladimir Putin has deployed more than 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border, and last week Blinken warned that Russia had the ability to double that number in a short space of time.
The exercises will take place 240 miles off Ireland’s southwest coast and come amid troop build-up near the border with Ukraine amid fears of war in Europe
To bolster deterrence, Denmark sends a frigate to the Baltic Sea and stands ready to send four F-16 fighter jets to Lithuania. Spain is deploying ships to join NATO naval forces and is considering sending four F-16 fighter jets to Lithuania.
France has indicated that it wants to send troops to Romania and the Netherlands plans to send two F-35 fighters to Bulgaria in April.
NATO’s announcement came after reports that Biden planned to send as many as 50,000 troops to the region if the security situation deteriorated, supported by new deployment of ships and aircraft.
Since late December, the Air Force has regularly flew RC-135 Rivet Joint electronic surveillance planes over Ukraine to eavesdrop on communications from Russian ground commanders, the Times reported. The Air Force also conducts ground surveillance flights with E-8 JSTARS to monitor the build-up of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine.
The spy plane mission aims to find evidence that Russia is considering deploying nuclear weapons on its border with Ukraine, a potential Russian officials have already warned about.
On Sunday, Ukraine’s defense minister praised the arrival of a second shipment of military aides from the US
‘The second bird in Kiev!’ tweeted Oleksii Reznikov. “Over 80 tons of weapons to bolster Ukraine’s defense capabilities of our friends in the US! And this is not the end.’
During a conference call with reporters Sunday night, a senior State Department official warned that “military action by Russia could come any moment” and urged Americans who wanted to leave Ukraine to do so quickly.