An armored brigade is starting to make its way to Europe, as part of the U.S. response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a senior defense official confirmed Thursday.
Most of the troops will come from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia, along with some supporting fires and transportation units, the official said.
“So they’re going to Germany initially,” the official said. “They could be repositioned after originally getting into Germany to other places as needed.”
The official could not confirm whether the brigade will be taking advantage of prepositioned equipment housed in Germany or Belgium, though it’s unlikely they will be bringing heavy armored vehicles from Georgia.
Some members of the brigade and its supporting elements are part of the 8,500 troops put on prepare-to-deploy orders earlier this month, when intelligence assessments began to point toward an imminent Russian invasion.
When they arrive, there will be 14,000 U.S. troops mobilized in Europe specifically to respond to the Ukraine situation, in addition to 80,000 already based there.
They include 4,700 from the 82nd Airborne Division in Poland, 300 from the XVIII Airborne Corps in Germany and 1,000 from the Germany-based 2nd Cavalry Regiment, who made their way to Romania in early February.
President Joe Biden reiterated during a press conference Thursday that none of the mobilized troops are tasked with defending Ukraine or fighting Russian attacks.
A day into on-the-ground combat, the senior defense official couldn’t confirm how many Ukrainian or Russian casualties have accumulated so far.
“Without being too specific, we have seen some indications that Ukrainian units are fighting back,” he said. “But with what effect, and on what scale, I can’t be more specific than that.”
And while he did confirm reports that Russian airborne troops are actively fighting in Kharkiv, he couldn’t say whether multiple reports of a takeover of the Chernobyl nuclear site.
“We do believe with some confidence that some Russian soldiers have moved through that area and may still be in that area,” he said.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.