In addition, some 300 members of the headquarters of the 18th Airborne Corps, also from Fort Bragg, have arrived in Germany to oversee reinforcements pouring into Eastern Europe. The 18th Airborne Corps and its headquarters are led by Lieutenant General Michael E. Kurilla, who has nominated President Biden to take over central command of the military in April. And last Thursday, Mr. Austin said 125 army troops in Germany would go to Bulgaria for training.
The Pentagon has also sent air reinforcements to Britain, Germany and Eastern Europe in recent days. The Air Force said F-35 fighters from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, were deployed to Germany, days after B-52 bombers from Minot Air Force Base, ND, were sent to Britain in a previously planned mission.
Eight F-15s from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, NC, have flown to Lask Air Base in Poland to supplement the eight US F-15s normally stationed there in Britain.
“The deployment of US F-15s in Poland enhances NATO’s collective defense capabilities on NATO’s eastern flank and its enhanced air police mission,” General Jeffrey Harrigian, the chief of US air forces in Europe and Africa, said in a statement.
Eight F-16s, mostly based in Spangdahlem, Germany, have also been deployed at Fetesti Air Base, Romania.
The build-up of air forces in Eastern Europe carries risks. US and Russian warplanes operating in the eastern Mediterranean flew dangerously close together in three separate incidents earlier this month, including one in which the plane came in about five feet away from each other, Pentagon officials said.
In addition to the deployments to Poland and Romania, the Pentagon has placed 8,500 other troops in the United States on “high alert” for possible dispatch to Eastern Europe. Those troops would join a NATO response force that could be activated soon, military officials said.
The bulk of the troops being raised are active-duty ground forces, including combat brigades, and medical, aviation, transport, intelligence and surveillance forces.