The Pentagon has unveiled how it plans to spend $3.4 billion on deploying advanced military hardware and troops to Eastern Europe as a check against Russian aggression in the region.
In February, the Defense Department announced it would quadruple the amount of money for the European Reassurance Initiative in its fiscal year 2017 budget, pending the approval of Congress. The effort covers the costs of sending hundreds of U.S. troops in and out of Europe for brief deployments, military exercises with allies and other training missions.
The plan calls adding a continuous rotation of a U.S. brigade – about 4,500 troops – to bolster the two brigades that are already stationed in the European theater. The Pentagon has about 62,000 permanently assigned service members on the continent.
The larger footprint is part of the Pentagon’s ongoing response to Moscow’s aggressive military activity following the 2014 invasion of Ukraine along NATO's eastern border, which is made up countries like Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.
Here are some of the new gear headed to Eastern Europe, according to The Wall Street Journal:
Bradley Fighting Vehicle. A lightly armored transport vehicle capable of traveling up to 300 miles and obtaining speeds of about 40 miles per hour, the Bradley is armed with a 25mm cannon, effective against most armored targets and the TOW missile, which works well against lightly armored targets.
Humvee. Part of 1,750-wheeled vehicles called for under the reassurance effort, these light trucks have seen significant action in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan despite being pushed aside by the more durable MRAP. The Army recently signed a roughly $243 million contract for the initial wave of the Humvee’s successor, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.
Paladin self-propelled howitzer. A canon artillery system, it’s operated by a crew of four: a commander, driver, gunner and loader. The Paladin’s cannon has a range of up to over 18 miles and can achieve a maximum firing rate of up to eight rounds a minute or three rounds in 15 seconds, and a sustained firing rate of one round every three minutes.
Stryker. By the end of calendar 2017, the Army hopes to have a fully equipped Stryker brigade combat team in Europe. The eight-wheeled vehicle can attain speeds of 62 miles per hour and has a maximum range of 312 miles. The Stryker can carry about a dozen troops and can be outfitted to protect itself via a variety of armaments, such as 30 mm canons, a .50 caliber machine gun or a grenade launcher.
The A-10? Left out of reassurance effort, for now, is any mention of warplanes. It’s possible the Air Force could soon announce it is deploying fighters to Europe, as it did, twice, last year with the A-10 Thunderbolt attack jet, dubbed the “Warthog” by the troops. The service also sent four F- Raptors on its first operational deployment to the continent.
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