Soldiers from the Army’s elite 82nd Airborne Division are among the 8,500 U.S. service members on standby to deploy to Europe in case NATO activates its multinational response force in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Other units from the Fort Bragg, North Carolina-based 18th Airborne Corps, including the 101st Airborne Division, also have been placed on a heightened alert status along with the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado, Pentagon officials confirmed.
“As I said many times earlier this week, these forces are on a ‘heightened preparedness to deploy.’ They have not been activated,” chief Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Thursday.
The 8,500 troops now on standby orders will make up the U.S. contribution to the 40,000 in the NATO Response Force.
For months, Russia has been massing 100,000 troops and equipment such as tanks, artillery and field hospitals along its border with neighboring Ukraine.
“I welcome allies contributing additional forces to NATO. NATO will continue to take all necessary measures to protect and defend all allies, including by reinforcing the eastern part of the Alliance,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement this week. “We will always respond to any deterioration of our security environment, including through strengthening our collective defense.”
Military personnel from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona; Fort Hood, Texas; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; Fort Polk, Louisiana, Robins Air Force Base and Fort Stewart — both in Georgia; and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, also were notified to stand by for deployment, Pentagon officials said.
Logistics, support, intelligence and medical personnel — in addition to combat forces — could find themselves deployed to Europe to bolster nervous allies.
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and Robins Air Force Base.
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