The US Department of Defense (DoD) is set to deploy tanks, artillery, and other armoured vehicles to at least seven countries in central and eastern Europe that share border with Russia.
Under the plan, dubbed the European Activity Set, Pentagon will station nearly 250 tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, and self-propelled howitzers at temporary bases in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Germany.
The company to battalion-sized equipment sets are expected to be used during training exercises, which the US is conducting in the region to reassure Nato allies in the wake of Russia’s actions in the Ukrainian crisis since early 2014.
Pentagon spokesman major James Brindle said the pre-positioning of the gear for future training exercises makes logistics easier.
Brindle said: "To preposition this equipment for these training events, it’s a benefit for the taxpayers, it’s a benefit for the soldiers, it’s a benefit for everybody to have this equipment already there, so they can just fall in much like we do at other training locations."
The new gear represents a mix of redeploying resources already in Europe, and a new battalion of equipment being transferred from outside the continent.
According to Brindle, the package would primarily include M2 and M3 Bradley fighting vehicles, approximately 90 M1 tanks, 20 M109 self-propelled howitzers.
The newly pre-positioned military gear is expected to be used by forces already based in Europe.
Approximately 65,000 US soldiers are permanently stationed in Europe, including Germany, Italy, Belgium, and the UK.
Russia has criticised the proposed deployment saying the move would be the most aggressive US act since the Cold War.
Russian defence ministry official General Yuri Yakubov told Interfax: "Russia will have no option but to build up its forces and resources on the Western strategic front."
The proposed deployment comes a day after the US Defence Secretary Ash Carter unveiled the country’s contribution to the Nato’s Very-High-Readiness Joint Task Force.
Washington will provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support, strategic and inter-theatre lift, command and control, special-operations capabilities, as well as logistical expertise and assets, and precision joint fire capabilities.
Image: US soldiers unload a M3 Bradley fighting vehicles in Parsberg, Germany. Photo: courtesy of Sergeant Nicholaus Williams.