Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby announced the deployment of U.S. troops to Europe to replace forces ordered there earlier this year.
Kirby said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has ordered the deployment of around 10,500 personnel in the coming months to replace Army units ordered to the region in advance of, and in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Kirby stressed that these forces are not going to Ukraine, but are there to ensure the defense of NATO countries.
“These deployments are a one-for-one unit replacements, which leaves our overall force posture in the region – approximately 100,000 — unchanged,” he said at a Pentagon news conference. “The units being replaced will return to their home stations following a proper turnover of responsibilities.”
The 101st Airborne Division Headquarters, from Fort Campbell, Ky., will replace the 82nd Airborne Division Headquarters in the European Command area of responsibility. This will involve 500 soldiers.
Also from Fort Campbell, the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division will deploy approximately 4,200 soldiers to replace the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team of Fort Bragg, N.C.,’s 82nd Airborne Division in Poland.
In addition, the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas, will deploy approximately 4,200 soldiers to replace the 1st Armored Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division in Germany.
Finally, the 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade consisting of approximately 1,800 service members from Fort Bliss, Texas, will replace the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade to support the United States’ commitment to Atlantic Resolve.
These are not permanent moves, Kirby said. “They are moves designed to respond to the current security environment,” he said.
The Ukrainians continue to resist the Russian invaders in the Donbas region — Russia’s major push in the region now. “They have prevented the Russians from achieving virtually any of their strategic objectives thus far in the war,” Kirby said. “Now, both sides have taken casualties. Both sides have lost capabilities, whether that’s actual hardware or defensive systems. That’s why we’re trying so hard to make sure that Ukraine continues to have available to it, the materials, the systems, the weapons to continue to defend themselves.”
The Ukrainian military is holding its own against the Russian force. There are roughly 105 Russian battalion tactical groups in Ukraine today. But the Ukrainians “absolutely are mounting a stiff and an effective resistance to the Russians,” Kirby said.
Anecdotal evidence suggests the Russian military is having morale problems. A senior defense official speaking on background said there are reports of some Russian units refusing to go into battle. “They are not obeying orders or failing to fight as hard as ordered or expected,'” the official said.
This appears to have started with line soldiers, but has spread to the officer ranks, the official said. “I know it’s anecdotal, but it’s consistent with the kinds of unit cohesion and morale problems we’ve seen in the past,” the official said.