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US to deploy additional armored brigade in eastern Europe

The US will deploy a rotating armored combat brigade to eastern Europe to reassure allies and conduct training. The deployment will give the US Army three combat-ready brigades in Europe.

The United States will deploy an additional rotating armored brigade to eastern Europe beginning in early 2017 to reassure allies against Russian aggression, the Stuttgart-based US European Command said Wednesday.

The brigade will conduct continuous nine-month rotating missions in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary, bringing the total US Army presence on the continent to three combat ready brigades. A brigade has about 4,500 soldiers.

"This Army implementation plan continues to demonstrate our strong and balanced approach to reassuring our NATO Allies and partners in the wake of an aggressive Russia in Eastern Europe and elsewhere," General Philip Breedlove, the top US commander in Europe, said in a statement.

"Our allies and partners will see more capability. They will see a more frequent presence of an armored brigade with more modernized equipment in their countries," he added.

The deployment is a part of the so-called European Reassurance Initiative developed in response to eastern European concerns over Russian aggression following the annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in 2014.

Last Month, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter put forward next year's military budget that included

a four-fold increase to $3.4 billion (3.7 billion euros) to fund the European Reassurance Initiative.

Moscow's actions in Ukraine have prompted concern,

especially among the Baltic states

with their Russian minority and Poland, that it could intervene in their affairs. Russia accuses NATO of encroaching on its border.

Each armored brigade will bring modern and up-to-date equipment to demonstrate the US Army's ability to quickly deploy units and their equipment, European Command said. The extra brigade will enable US forces to conduct more military training exercises with allies using modern equipment.

Watch video 26:05

US General Philip Breedlove on DW's Conflict Zone

Aging equipment currently in use in Europe will be stored in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, where it will be upgraded and modernized.

"This equipment will enable rapid deployment of ground forces in response to contingencies throughout the region. It provides additional combat power, if and when needed," European Command said in a statement.

The prepositioned equipment will enable the US to quickly deploy an extra combat brigade to meet up with the equipment.

The US military has about 62,000 service members stationed in Europe.

cw/jr (AFP, Reuters)

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