In Poland, the U.S. Army in Europe (USAREUR) will place an additional brigade’s worth of combat-ready artillery and armor in a strategic move to ensure forces can quickly assemble in case of a conflict or crisis with Russia.
The equipment could be used to arm any new unit assigned in Europe if the Pentagon decided to station another brigade along hot spots on NATO’s eastern flank.
“Now, what the Army is talking about with the Pentagon and the administration is that if we get a modest ‘grow the Army,’ what additional capabilities would we want in Europe?” said Maj. Gen. Duane Gamble, commander of the Kaiserslautern-based 21st Theater Sustainment Command.
The plan seeks to continue recent Army efforts to pre-position combat-ready equipment throughout Europe. Details were revealed on Tuesday after USAREUR and allied leaders started a four-day “terrain walk,” searching for gaps in the logistical chain and ways to accelerate the movement of supplies and troops in Europe.
“The first thing is to get a common understanding. This is our opportunity to talk through it and have everybody then see what more they can do, what we may have missed,” said Gamble.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is now planning to build a warehouse in Pawidz, Poland, as the country emerges as the center of gravity for USAREUR’s expanding mission in Europe. The NATO-funded facility will cost nearly $200 million and is expected to be ready to store combat equipment and other supplies by 2021.
Col. John Baker, the lead engineer at USAREUR, reported, “It’s going to be capable of hosting an [armored brigade combat team’s] worth of equipment, but the space configuration will allow us or NATO units to store a variety of different types of equipment there.”
Gamble said of USAREUR’s pre-positioned stocks, “Really, these are building blocks. It’s like blocking and tackling … these drills on a field that don’t look like a football game but build the fundamental competencies you need.”
While Russia says it has no intention of starting a fight, the military in Europe is skeptical, especially considering Moscow’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine. So that they can quickly respond to a possible crisis, NATO has deployed multinational battalions in the area, and the U.S. has a rotational tank brigade that works up and down NATO’s eastern flank.
Adding a full brigade of combat-ready stocks would further help in case of conflict. Gamble said, “Ultimately, what we want to get to is an executable plan on the shelf that we can execute with reflexive competency.”
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