87 M1 Abrams tanks, 103 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, 18 M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzer artillery, as well as trucks and other equipment have arrived in Poland, according to US military sources.
The troops in question are with the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. Normally stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas, the so-called "Dagger Brigade" was deployed to replace troops with the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Carson, Colorado, who are nearing the end of their deployment in Poland.
"This will be the first time two armored brigades transition within the European theater sending a full complement of soldiers and equipment into Germany and Poland in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve," said Master Sgt. Brent Williams, a spokesman for NATO command in Eastern Europe.
The 3rd Brigade's nine-month deployment saw them participate in numerous live-fire drills with other NATO partners, making it one of the US' most combat-ready units according to brigade commander Col. Michael J. Simmering. "The Soldiers of 3rd Brigade have spent their time in theater training at every opportunity," said Simmering. "After numerous live-fire exercises and multiple other training events, our team is arguably the most lethal armored brigade in the Army."
Now it's the 2nd Brigade's chance to receive this same level of training and readiness. Over the next few weeks, the 3rd Brigade will phase themselves out of exercises before eventually returning to the US.
The 2nd Armored, as well as an aviation brigade, have been deployed as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, a NATO initiative to boost US tank and manpower strength in Europe. All told, NATO's presence along the alliance's eastern flank is as large as it's been since the end of the Cold War.
"By deploying to Europe and distributing our forces across region, we provide a tangible and visible presence of the deterrent capabilities available to respond to crises at decisive points," said Col. David Gardner, the commander of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team.
Four NATO battalions are deployed along the alliance's eastern flank, which consists of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The latter two nations both share a border with Russia, and all but Estonia border Russia's close ally Belarus — which will host large-scale Russian military exercises later in September.
The increased deployment comes during a time period where tensions between NATO and the Moscow bloc are reaching decade-highs.