Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Monday, January 24, that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recommended to US President Joe Biden that about 8,500 troops be ordered to prepare for potential deployment to Europe in light of signs that Russian President Vladimir Putin is not de-escalating his military pressure on Ukraine - Stars&Stripes is reporting.
John Kirby said he was not prepared to identify the U.S.-based units because they were still being notified. The Defense Department spokesman also said the troops are primarily ground forces who could bring a host of capabilities to the European theater if needed, including logistics, medical, aviation, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, transportation.
"We've always said we would reinforce our allies on the eastern flank, and those conversations and discussions have certainly been part of what our national security officials have been discussing with their counterparts now for several weeks," said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
Later Monday, Biden was to hold a video call with several European leaders on the Russian military buildup and potential responses to an invasion, the White House said.
Kirby said Austin was anticipating the potential for NATO to activate what it calls the NATO Response Force, a multinational force totaling about 40,000 troops. Most of the 8,500 U.S. troops being put on higher alert would be sent as part of that response force, if it's activated, Kirby said. He added that he could not rule out that U.S. troops already based in Europe could be shifted east as further reinforcements.
The NATO Response Force (NRF) is a highly ready and technologically advanced multinational force that the Alliance can deploy quickly, wherever needed. NRF consists of a highly capable joint multinational force able to react in a very short time to the full range of security challenges from crisis management to collective defence.
The decision to put the forces on standby comes amid growing tensions in eastern Europe as the West and NATO accuse Russia of preparing for an invasion of Ukraine. Russia has amassed over 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine alongside a mass deployment of tanks and artillery.
A similar buildup has been seen in Belarus, just to the north of Ukraine.
Earlier CoffeeOrDie reported how Ukraine preppared for worst-case russian attack.
NATO said on Monday, January 24, it was putting forces on standby and reinforcing eastern Europe with more ships and fighter jets in response to Russia's military build-up at Ukraine's borders.