In August, the United States and its allies in Eastern Europe agreed to enhance defense cooperation as part of an operation dubbed Atlantic Resolve.
"As part of the United States’ commitment to increased assurance and deterrence, US Army Europe (USAREUR) will begin receiving continuous troop rotations of US-based armored brigade combat teams (ABCT) to the European theater in February 2017, bringing the total Army presence to three fully-manned Army brigades," reads a US Defense Department statement from March.
That timetable has evidently been bumped up, as the 3rd Brigade of the 4th Division out of Fort Carson, Colorado, plans to reach Europe in January. The unit will arrive in Germany, where it will undergo a readiness test before traveling to Poland.
Speaking to Defense News, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges said he expects some hiccups along the way.
"I’m going to make all kinds of mistakes on this,” he said. “We haven’t done it in a long time."
The deployment is part of operation Atlantic Resolve, meant to reassure European allies of the commitment of the United States to defend against “Russian aggression.” One battalion, dubbed Atlantic Resolve North, will be stationed in the Baltic, while another – Atlantic Resolve South – will deploy to Romania and Bulgaria.
Russian officials have warned against the provocative buildup.
"This warmongering and scares about invented Russian aggressiveness certainly produce a detrimental effect on the overall climate in the region, including on the Russia-EU relationship," Russian Ambassador to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov told Sputnik earlier this year.
"Those countries that are the objects of NATO surge in military presence in Central and Eastern Europe pursue policies of their own, which are not always conducive to maintaining partnership-style relations with Russia," he added.
"Since many decisions in the European Union are taken by consensus of 28 member states, I would say that sometimes the result is a position reflecting 'the least common denominator.'"
The first battalion will be rotated out next September, and replaced by a second ABCT, the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division out of Fort Riley, Kansas.