U.S. Army soldiers will soon embark on a 1,100-mile convoy through six European countries near Russia to show support for allies in the region, according to Army officials.
Stars and Stripes first reported the move, which comes in the wake of recent Russian actions in Ukraine that have made many Eastern European nations nervous.
U.S. and other NATO allies have been engaged in constant training exercises in the Baltics and Poland since Russia 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 spokesman for U.S. Army Europe, 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 Army will send armored Stryker vehicles on the “road march” dubbed Dragoon Ride, bringing U.S. forces close to the Russian border.
U.S. Army Europe said the vehicles “will be accompanied by aerial reconnaissance support provided by the Army’s 12th Combat Aviation Brigade.”
The expedition will take U.S. forces with the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment through Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, the Czech Republic and to their home destination at Rose Barracks in Vilseck, Germany, according to U.S. Army Europe.
“For those participating in it, Dragoon Ride is a unique opportunity,” Lt. Col. Childs said, Stars and Stripes reported. “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 follows the deployment of a headquarters element from the 4th Infantry Division to command and control U.S. land troops participating in Operation Atlantic Resolve in Europe.
Through the operation, “the United States 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,” states the Pentagon website.
“The displays have come as close to 300 yards from the Russian border as U.S. Army Strykers participated in an independence day celebration in Nava, Estonia, last month,” noted CNN.
Hundreds of tanks and military vehicles arrived in Latvia on March 9 to be distributed across the Baltics, Poland, and Germany. A deployment of 3,000 troops from Fort Stewart, Georgia will follow.
Tensions with Russia are not limited to the ground.
Adm. William Gortney, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, told lawmakers last week that “this past year has marked a notable increase in Russian military assertiveness.”