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U.S. armor returns to Europe

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US Army M1 main battle tanks and support equipment began arriving in Europe on January 8th as part of a nine-month rotation of a US Armored Brigade. The lead elements of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT), 4th Infantry Division, out of Fort Carson, Colorado, is part of the effort to support Operation Atlantic Resolve designed to strengthen deterrence against Russian aggression.

"The United States is demonstrating its continued commitment to collective security through a series of actions designed to reassure NATO allies and partners of America's dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region in light of the Russian intervention in Ukraine," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.

In addition to U.S. troops going to Poland, NATO members Germany, Canada and Britain are also sending battalions of up to 1,000 troops each to the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. They say the four battalions, backed by additional U.S. forces on rotation, are justified by Moscow's annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The 3rd ACBT equipment includes 87 Abrams M1A1 tanks, 20 Paladin artillery vehicles and 136 Bradley fighting vehicles.

Upon arrival, the armored brigade checked its weapons and hardware, tested communications and camouflaging, loaded ammunition and began to deploy to its areas of responsibility to prepare for combat action.

One battalion will head to the Baltic region while another battalion will deploy to Romania and Bulgaria, to demonstrate capability in the south. The remainder of the combat team will remain in Poland.

The Army is also sending its 10th Combat Aviation Brigade with about 50 Black Hawk and 10 CH-47 Chinook helicopters and 1,800 personnel, as well as a separate aviation battalion with 400 troops and 24 Apache helicopters.

The arrival of the 3rd ABCT signals the beginning of the continuous presence of a heavy brigade and back-to-back rotations of U.S. troops and equipment in Europe. The next heavy armored brigade combat team, due to be dispatched in September 2017, will likely sail into several European ports to test its ability to unload and assemble at another designated point, according to an earlier public statement by Lt-Gen Ben Hodges, the U.S. Army Europe commander.

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