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U.S. military forces have deployed one of the nation’s most elite groups of airborne division soldiers to Europe for the first time since World War II, vowing to fight alongside Ukrainian troops in the war against Russia, according to a report.
CBS News reported Friday that the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, a group trained to deploy anywhere in the world and fight within hours, deployed approximately 4,700 soldiers from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to Romania, where soldiers stand ready to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank on a moment’s notice.
“We’re ready to defend every inch of NATO soil,” the division’s Deputy Commander, Brigadier General John Lubas, told the outlet, adding their presence is necessary because of the group’s unique light infantry force capabilities.
“We bring that mobility to our aircraft and our air assaults,” Lubas said.
Division soldiers, nicknamed the “Screamin’ Eagles,” are now the closest American forces to the ongoing fighting in Ukraine since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched military operations there earlier this year. Since then, Russian troops have advanced on the Crimean Peninsula and scaled the Black Sea coast into the Kherson region, including Mykolaiv and Odesa port cities.
“We’re closely watching them. So we’re building objectives to practice against that replicate exactly what’s going on in Ukraine,” Colonel Edwin Matthaidess, Commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, told CBS. “It keeps us on our toes.”
U.S. soldiers and Romanian troops have been conducting air assault attacks to show Russian forces that NATO allies are fully prepared to cross into Ukrainian territory if ordered by officials.
“The real meaning for me, to have the American troops here, is like if you were to have allies in Normandy before any enemy was there,” Romanian Major General Lulian Berdila told CBS News.
The move from U.S. forces comes after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Russia against using nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict after the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines were heavily damaged by underwater explosions in the Baltic Sea surrounded by Sweden, Germany, and Poland.
“All currently available information indicates that this is the result of deliberate, reckless, and irresponsible acts of sabotage,” NATO said in a statement, according to Reuters. “We, as Allies, have committed to prepare for, deter and defend against the coercive use of energy and other hybrid tactics by state and non-state actors.”
“Any deliberate attack against the allies’ critical infrastructure would be met with a united and determined response,” the statement added.
The Department of the Army announced last summer it would begin deploying troops to the region in “support of our unrelenting commitment to Europe and our NATO allies.”