Biden administration orders additional 3,000 troops to Poland
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday ordered an additional 3,000 U.S. troops be sent to Poland as fears over a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine rise.
The extra forces, sent at the direction of President Biden, increase the number of U.S. forces deployed to and repositioned to Eastern Europe to 6,000.
The troops, who will come from the 82nd Airborne Infantry Brigade Combat Team based out of Fort Bragg, N.C., will depart over the next couple days and are expected to be in place by early next week, according to a senior Defense official.
The order comes as the White House on Friday warned a Russian invasion of Ukraine could involve a military assault on Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital.
“We’ve been clear that it could take a range of different forms, but I want to be equally clear that one of those forms is a rapid assault on the city of Kyiv,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters at a White House briefing.
Russia has placed well over 100,000 Kremlin troops at its border with Ukraine and in Belarus, with Western nations concerned that a full-scale invasion could come in a matter of weeks.
Sullivan said officials have not determined that Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to invade, but intelligence indicates Moscow has accumulated enough forces at the Ukrainian border that an invasion could happen before the Winter Olympics end on Feb. 20.
The new level of urgency about the imminent threat of a Russian attack has prompted Biden and other officials to urge Americans in Ukraine to leave the country immediately. Biden has also given the Pentagon approval for U.S. forces in Poland to potentially help Americans evacuate Ukraine.
The additional American troops ordered Friday will join the 1,700 airborne soldiers sent to Poland on Feb. 2, nearly two-thirds of which have already arrived, according to the Pentagon.
Those 1,700 are commanded by Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue and are part of roughly 3,000 troops ordered to Eastern Europe last week.
Another 300 members of the 18th Airborne Corps headquarters element were sent to and have arrived in Germany. And an additional 1,000 troops were repositioned from Germany to Romania.
All 6,000 will report to U.S. European Command head Gen. Tod Wolters and “reassure our NATO allies, deter any potential aggression against NATO’s eastern flank, train with host-nation forces, and contribute to a wide range of contingencies,” according to the senior official.
The official added that the additional deployments are temporary and “meant to supplement for a brief time the more than 80,000 U.S. troops already in Europe on rotational and permanent orders.”