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U.S. places 8,500 troops on heightened readiness, as Russia-Ukraine tensions rise

“Again, I want to reinforce that as of now the decision has been made to put these units on higher alert and higher alert only,” Kirby said. “No decisions have been made to deploy any forces from the United States at this time.”

Some of the units were already on a heightened readiness to deploy posture. Austin’s decision shortened the tether. “In some cases, units would go from say 10 days to prepare to deploy, to five days,” Kirby said.

Austin will continue to consult with President Biden and the United States will maintain close coordination with allies and partners.

These are prudent measures, Kirby said. The United States and its allies have a good “site picture” of the Russian moves to surround Ukraine. “It’s very clear that the Russians have no intention, right now, of de-escalating,” he said.

There is still time and space for negotiations to defuse the situation, and Kirby urged Russian leader Vladimir Putin to do just that.

Passes and leaves for the service members affected are canceled, DOD officials said. Instead of having 10 days to deploy, the units must deploy in half that, if so ordered. “They will have to make whatever preparations they feel they need to make to be able to meet that five-day commitment,” Kirby said.

For different units this will mean different things from ensuring vehicles are ready to checking communications systems to ensuring the “beans and bullets” needed are there. “I’m sure there are personnel readiness things that they have to do,” Kirby said. “That again, is one of the reasons why I’m not giving [out the names of] units today. The units are getting notified and we want to also give them time to talk about this with their families ñ this potential deployment order.”

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