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US and its allies to reinforce NATO's eastern flank

The Pentagon told reporters on 2 February that the US Army is reinforcing Poland and Romania amid Russia's massing of troops around Ukraine.

The US 82nd Airborne Division is sending elements of an infantry brigade combat team numbering 1,700 troops and ‘key enablers' to Poland, and the 18th Airborne Corps will send a 300-soldier joint task force-capable headquarters to Germany.

These are in addition to 8,500 personnel who have been “on heightened alert” since 24 January and are staying in the US ready to support the NATO Response Force (NRF) if it is alerted.

The 2nd Cavalry Regiment based in Vilseck, Germany, will send a 1,000-soldier Stryker squadron to Romania to augment about 900 US troops already there.

The Pentagon said in a 2 February fact sheet, “These forces are not going to fight in Ukraine. They are not permanent moves. They respond to current conditions.”

This follows an announcement by the UK government in a 30 January press release that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was considering options to double troop numbers and sending defensive weapons to Estonia and fast jets, warships, and military specialists to protect NATO allies. “The possible deployment will reinforce NATO's defences and underpin the UK's support for Nordic and Baltic partners,” Downing Street said.

The statement noted that the UK already has over 900 British Army soldiers in Estonia as part of NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup there, over 100 military trainers in Ukraine under Operation ‘Orbital', and a 150-strong light cavalry squadron in Poland. Operation ‘Orbital' has trained 22,000 Ukrainian troops since 2015, with more trainers sent to Ukraine to support the training of Ukrainian forces to use 2,000 Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapons (NLAW) missiles sent from the UK on 17-18 January.

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