In February 2017, USA plans to send a land forces brigade combat group to Eastern Europe. Latvia’s Defence Ministry is currently not aware how many troops and combat vehicles will be sent to Latvia, as reported by the ministry.
On Wednesday, 31 March, United States European Command announced its plan to send a combat group to Eastern Europe to enhance the region’s security.
«I welcome USA’s decision to deploy additional land forces in Eastern Europe. It confirms President Barack Obama’s political promise in relation to NATO’s Eastern European Partners. This decision is especially important after Obama’s announcement of 3 September 2014 in Tallinn. In it, the US President said that it is just as important to protect Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius as it is Berlin, Paris and London,» – says Latvia’s Defence Minister Raimonds Bergmanis, adding that USA is Latvia’s strategic partner. USA also plays a major role in strengthening Latvia’s state security.
The minister added that this is an especially important step towards the upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw. Increased presence of NATO forces would serve as a long-term security guarantee for the region.
Bergmanis emphasizes this announcement by USA does not mean Latvia can relax. On the contrary – now Latvia has to fulfill its obligations. «Although allies and USA may very well guarantee our country’s security in the future, we also have to continue our work on increasing the defence budget, enhancing combat capabilities of our National Armed Forces and improving state support capabilities and infrastructure,» – notes the minister.
«This Army implementation plan continues to demonstrate our strong and balanced approach to reassuring our NATO Allies and partners in the wake of an aggressive Russia in Eastern Europe and elsewhere,» – said Commander of US forces in Europe General Philip Breedlove.
«Our allies and partners will see more capability. They will see a more frequent presence of an armoured brigade with more modernized equipment in their countries,» – he added.
Armoured brigade combat groups will be arriving on a nine-month rotational period from USA. They will also take part in Atlantic Resolve military exercises, as mentioned in the announcement.
This rotation demonstrates our capabilities to quickly deploy armoured vehicles and forces in Europe, mentioned in the announcement. Arms and vehicles sent to Europe will be the most modern USAREUR can offer. It will replace the currently used training equipment in Europe in the next couple of years.
When the first combat group arrives in Europe next year, armoured vehicles currently used by rotational forces there will remain in Europe, where they will be repaired, restored and made part of army reserve there.
Those armoured vehicles will be stored in Belgium, Netherlands and Germany.
Ever since the annexation of Crimea by Russia in spring 2014 and the aggression in Ukraine that followed shortly after, USA has begun Atlantic Resolve military exercises. The goal of this measure is to demonstrate USA’s continued investment in the collective defence of NATO member states and enhancement of peace and stability in Baltic States and Poland.