|Arthur Dominic Villasanta |||Jan 13, 2017 08:31 AM EST|
(Photo : Getty Images) A column of U.S. Army vehicles moves into Poland from Germany.
The first Brigade Combat Team from the U.S. Army entered Poland on Jan. 12 to put the fear of God into Vladimir Putin, his weak Russian Army and their shared plans to resurrect the long-dead communist empire.
Armored fighting vehicles of the U.S. Army 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team (BCT) belonging to the U.S. 4th Infantry Division from Fort Carson, Colorado rumbled into Poland from Germany, heralding the largest U.S. military deployment in Europe since the end of the Cold War in 1991.
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Over the next few months, 3,500 men; 87 M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks; 144 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles and 2,500 other vehicles of the 3rd BCT will be deployed to Poland. The move of the U.S. Army to the doorstep of Russia seeks to deter wanton Russian aggression in Eastern Europe as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
Russia has repeatedly threatened Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with invasion in the past.
Most of the men and equipment of the 3rd BCT will be deployed across Poland. Others will go to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary to train with local troops.
"To arrive at this point so swiftly is proof that when we work as a team ... no challenge is too large to overcome, no distance is too far to cross, when the need arises," said U.S. Army Col. Christopher Norrie, who led the convoy.
"The main goal of our mission is deterrence and prevention of threats."
He described the new mission as a "cornerstone" to preserving freedom across Europe.
Polish Army Maj. Gen. Jaroslaw Mika, whose soldiers will be training with some of the 3rd BCT's 3,500 troops, said he's thrilled they are here.
He said it's important to "be together, to build our common relationship and to provide more security" -- not only for Europe but the world.
Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said on the state TV that the NATO deployment puts an end to Russia's influence in the region.
"Even after 1989 we had to continuously wonder whether the Russians won't veto this or that action," said Macierewicz.
"Russia's veto power in Central Europe, in Poland, has ended once and for all."
The British will also be deploying to Russia's western border with Europe.
UK Secretary of State for Defense Michel Fallon confirmed the Royal Air Force will deploy Eurofighter Typhoon multirole fighter jets to Romania in 2017 while the British Army will deploy 800 men to Estonia in May.
The UK in July 2016 said it will deploy one of four battalions to NATO's enhanced forward presence in the Baltic States and Poland. The deployment will include armored Infantry equipped with Warrior armored fighting vehicles; tactical UAVs and a troop of Challenger 2 main battle tanks.
"Backed by a rising defense budget, this deployment of air, land and sea forces shows that we will continue to play a leading role in NATO, supporting the defense and security of our allies from the north to the south of the alliance," said Fallon.
Tensions between Russia and NATO have been increasing ever since Russia annexed the Crimea region in 2014. Some analysts claim Putin is bent on resurrecting the Soviet Union's communist empire, either by threatening war or going to war against NATO.
Those tensions have been worsened by Russia's role in the Syrian civil war and by deploying large number of warships from the Russian Navy to the Mediterranean Sea.
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said recent tactics by Moscow had forced NATO to respond.
"Russia has tripled defense spending," he said. "Russia has invested heavily in modern military equipment. They are conducting large-scale no notice exercises close to NATO borders,. But perhaps most importantly, Russia has been willing to use military force against neighbors.
"We have seen that in Georgia and we have seen it in Ukraine with illegal annexation of Crimea and the continued destabilization of Eastern Ukraine. So therefore NATO has to respond. "
Several NATO member states have promised troop contributions to a force of 4,000 soldiers to be spread across Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. To begin in early 2017, the deployments are key to NATO's effort to reinforce territory threatened by Russia.
"Close to our borders, Russia continues its assertive military posturing," said Stoltenberg at the start of talks among NATO allies in late 2016.
"It is important and it is necessary that NATO responds when we see the substantial and significant military buildup of Russia over a long period of time."
"These actions threaten our interests, our security," said Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
"Especially as it concerns a third party building up its military presence near our borders. It's not even a European state."
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