US Army Sending Armored Convoy 1,100 Miles through Europe to within 300 Yards of Russia's Border
March 16, 2015
Brad Lendon / CNN & John Vandiver / Stars and Stripes
The US Army plans to send armored Stryker vehicles on a 1,100-mile convoy through six European countries to "show solidarity" in the wake of Russian actions in the Ukraine and Crimea. Troops from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment (based in Vilseck) will be accompanied by the Army's 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, which will provide aerial reconnaissance. The convoy is part of a series of "displays" undertaken by the US and NATO -- some of which have put US weapons a mere 300 yards from Russia's border.
US Army Sending Armored Convoy 1,100 Miles through Europe
Brad Lendon / CNN
(March 14, 2015) -- Eastern Europe, here comes the cavalry.
The US Army says it will soon be sending armored Stryker vehicles on a 1,100-mile convoy through six European countries to show solidarity to allies in the wake of recent Russian actions in the Ukraine and Crimea that have Eastern Europe on edge.
The move was first reported Thursday in the military newspaper Stars and Stripes. US Army Europe posted the Stripes story on its website on Friday.
The convoy is "a highly visible demonstration of US, commitment to its NATO allies and demonstrating NATO's ability to move military forces freely across allied borders in close cooperation," US Army Europe spokesman Lt. Col. Craig Childs, said in a statement, according to the Stripes report. [See report below. -- EAW]
The troops and vehicles involved will be moving from training exercises conducted as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve in Estonia, Lithuania and Poland, the report said. They'll move through Latvia and the Czech Republic as they make their way to Vilseck, Germany, about a 40 miles drive from the Czech border.
The troops involved are from the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, which are based at Rose Barracks in Vilseck, and they will be accompanied by the Army's 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, which will provide aerial reconnaissance, the Stripes report said. The move is unusual because long-distance movement of heavy military vehicles such as the 18-ton Strykers is usually done by rail.
The trek is being called a "Dragoon Ride," after the unit's nickname, the Dragoons. Troops will camp out along the route.
"For those participating in it, Dragoon Ride is a unique opportunity," Stripes quoted Childs as saying. "Soldiers and their leaders will have numerous opportunities to engage with local communities along the route, deepen their appreciation for the cultural diversity within the alliance and enhance the relationships that are essential to building and maintaining mutual admiration, respect and trust among allied militaries."
The convoy will be the latest in a series of displays the US and its NATO allies have taken under Operation Atlantic Resolve, during which the US "is demonstrating its continued commitment to collective security through a series of actions designed to reassure NATO allies and partners of America's dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region, in light of the Russian intervention in Ukraine," according to the Defense Department's website.
The displays have come as close to 300 yards from the Russian border as US Army Strykers participated in an independence day celebration in Nava, Estonia, last month.
Other recent actions include the Air Force's movement of 12 A-10 Thunderbolt "tankbuster" attack jets to an air base in Germany and this month the placing of hundreds of tanks and military vehicles in Latvia, where they'll soon be matched up with 3,000 troops from Fort Stewart, Georgia.
Tension with Russia extends to the air too. Adm. William Gortney, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that "this past year has marked a notable increase in Russian military assertiveness."
Russian heavy bomber aircraft flew more patrols outside Russian airspace "than in any year since the Cold War," though he did not offer a specific number. There have also been increased Russian air patrols across the coastlines of Europe.
Dragoon Ride Will Send US Troops
Through Eastern Europe in Show of Support
John Vandiver / Stars and Stripes
STUTTGART, Germany (March 12, 2015) -- US Army soldiers with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment will soon begin a 1,100-mile convoy through six countries en route to their home station in Vilseck, Germany as they wrap up months of training with allies in Poland and the Baltics, Army officials said.
Troops will be taking their Strykers on a "road march," dubbed Dragoon Ride. They will be accompanied by aerial reconnaissance support provided by the Army's 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, US Army Europe said. Normally, military vehicles would be shipped back to their home base by rail after such a training mission, not by road in a high profile convoy.
To reassure countries on Russia's western periphery, the US and other NATO allies have been training continuously in the Baltics and Poland since Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine last year.
"This is a complex mission involving a significant amount of international diplomatic and military cooperation," Lt. Col. Craig Childs, a USAREUR spokesman, said in a statement.
"It will allow all units involved an opportunity to test their unit maintenance and leadership capabilities while simultaneously providing a highly visible demonstration of U.S, commitment to its NATO allies and demonstrating NATO's ability to move military forces freely across allied borders in close cooperation."
The journey will take soldiers with the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, from separate training locations in Estonia, Lithuania and Poland and convoy them through Latvia, the Czech Republic and finally to their home base at Rose Barracks in Vilseck, Germany, according to USAREUR.
Along the way, the troops will be camping out during a series of planned stops where they will meet with local community members.
"For those participating in it, Dragoon Ride is a unique opportunity," Childs said. "Soldiers and their leaders will have numerous opportunities to engage with local communities along the route, deepen their appreciation for the cultural diversity within the alliance and enhance the relationships that are essential to building and maintaining mutual admiration, respect and trust among allied militaries."
The 4th Infantry Division deployed a headquarters element to Europe in February to command and control US land forces supporting Operation Atlantic Resolve, the military's effort to train and reassure allies while sending a message of deterrence to Russia.
The 4th Infantry Division will be responsible for overseeing the road march from the Joint Multinational Training Command at Grafenwohr, Germany, and from mobile command group locations forward in operational area, USAREUR said.
Before Dragoon Ride begins, troops will hand over responsibility for USAREUR's land force training mission in the Baltics and Poland to soldiers with the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Stewart, Ga., USAREUR said.
On Monday, hundreds of tanks and other military vehicles arrived in Latvia, which will be distributed across training areas in the Baltics, Poland and German. They will be followed by 3,000 troops from the Georgia-based unit.
A battalion-sized element from the 3rd Infantry will take over the 2nd Cavalry Regiment's mission in the Baltics and Poland while the rest of the soldiers will take part in other exercises in Europe. Their rotation is expected to last until June.
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