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Allies continue to reinforce NATO's flanks

The UK is doubling the number of personnel in the EFP battlegroup it leads in Estonia and sending additional equipment, including Challenger 2 tanks (pictured) and AFVs. (Estonian MoD)

NATO allies announced the further reinforcement of NATO's flanks during a meeting of the alliance's defence ministers in Brussels on 16–17 February as Russia appeared to be continuing rather than drawing down its military build-up against Ukraine.

During a press conference after the meeting on 17 February, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced that Bulgaria had agreed earlier the same day to host a US Army Stryker company for joint training, with the unit “departing Germany in the coming days, and they'll help ensure our readiness and our interoperability with Bulgaria as our NATO ally”. A 1,000-strong Stryker squadron of the US Army's 2nd Cavalry Regiment has been deployed from its base in Vilseck, Germany, with its light wheeled armoured vehicles, to Romania to reinforce around 900 US troops already there.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced in a press release on 16 February that soldiers and personnel of the Royal Welsh battlegroup would leave Sennelager, Germany, and bases in the UK the same day and start arriving in Estonia during the following week. The ministry noted that the UK is doubling the number of personnel in Estonia and sending additional equipment, including tanks and armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs). The UK already has an 808-strong armoured infantry battalion with main battle tanks, AFVs, and self-propelled artillery in the Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) battlegroup it leads in Tapa, Estonia, according to a February 2022 NATO fact sheet. Janes has identified the tanks as Challenger 2s and the SPHs as AS90s, with the AFVs including Warrior infantry fighting vehicles.

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