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Wednesday, 23 April 2014 14:46

From wings in the air to boots on the ground

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The U.S. military in Europe is sending four company-sized infantry units, a total of about 600 soldiers, to Poland and three Baltic countries, a Pentagon official said on April 22.

This move is seen as the latest effort to reassure NATO allies in the Baltic region in light of Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Four countries — Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — each will receive a company of paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team based in Vicenza, Italy, said Pentagon spokesman Rear. Adm. John Kirby.

U.S. European Command will maintain a rotation of ground forces in those countries for at least the next several months.

“Russia's aggression in Ukraine has renewed our resolve to strengthening NATO's defense plans and capabilities, and to demonstrate our continued commitment to collective defense in reinforcing our NATO allies in Central and Eastern Europe,” Kirby said in a press release.

The troops will be in place in all four countries by April 28.

Since Russia's aggression in Ukraine began, the admiral said, the United States has been constantly looking for ways to reassure its allies and partners of the nation’s commitment to the collective defense principles in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

The message to the people of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, is that “the United States takes seriously our obligations under Article 5 of the NATO alliance, even though these aren't NATO exercises,” he said.

Read more in a press release of U.S. Department of Defense here.

“Russia's aggression in Ukraine has renewed our resolve to strengthening NATO's defense plans and capabilities..."

Earlier this month, NATO strengthened Baltic air policing, by deploying additional jets for a total of 10.

The NATO Baltic Air Policing mission has been ongoing since March 30, 2004, and provides interceptors for the policing of Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian airspace.

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