Number Of US Troops Deployed To Europe Could Increase Even More
WASHINGTON - Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby has said that the United States may send more troops to Eastern Europe than the 8,500 soldiers that have already been placed on high alert in response to heightened tensions due to Russia's military buildup near Ukraine. The U.S. supercarrier Harry S. Truman carrier group has also been placed under NATO command.
Kirby had announced Monday said that the is U.S. committed to provide troops to the NATO Response Forces (NRF) of 40,000 troops and has put 8,500 troops on 'heightened alert'.
According to Pentagon corespondent Carla Babb, the bulk of the 8,500 troops are for the NATO response force which is comprised of 40,000 multinational troops.
On Tuesday however, Kirby said that plans are still in flux and stated that more troops may be called on for deployment as the United States remains "in active consultations with allies and partners about capabilities they might need and might desire".
"I'm not going to rule out the possibility that there will be more such direction given to additional units at home or even abroad in terms of their readiness posture" Kirby said to Pentagon reporters.
"We have seen a consistent accumulation of combat power by the Russians in the western part of their country around the borders with Ukraine and Belarus" Kirby stated referring to the continual increase in Russian troops near the Ukrainian border.
While the U.S. Military alters its alert status at times it is not usual for the Military to announce the changes to the public, which is why according to Kirby it's taking time to release information on units.
"It’s not typical that we talk about [changing ready-to-deploy timelines] as much as we've been talking about it, so usually units have a little bit more time to make those notifications" he said.
A portion of the 8,500 troops may be used independently outside of the control of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in order to support partner countries in the region, but no decisions have been made yet according to Kirby.
"As for any movement … unilaterally by the United States to bolster the defensive capabilities of a NATO ally, that would be the result of individual conversations that we would have with those allies and partners" Kirby stated.
So far the United States hasn't sent any troops to Ukraine to assist the country in a possible attack by Russia but the U.S. does have over 100 National Guard special operators from Florida operating within the country on an advise-and-assist mission in order to help in the training of Ukrainian troops.
The USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group is also operating in a NATO exercises in the Mediterranean Sea. During the exercise, NATO took over control of the U.S. carrier group in the first time since the Cold War that a U.S. carrier group has come under the command of NATO according to a statement NATO released on Monday.
"We still think there's time and space here for diplomacy and dialogue to work. There’s going to be at least another round of talks here and I think it's important to not forget that the fact that we placed troops on heightened alert … in and of itself is not the silver bullet that's going to solve this" Kirby stated.