Soldiers departed Fort Bragg Thursday and arrived in Poland 24 hours later. The force of roughly 1,700 service members, mainly consisting of the 82nd Airborne Division, will remain stationed in Poland to help “deter and defeat Russian aggression.”
An additional 300 service members will head to Germany to establish Combined Joint Task Force Dragon.
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue, who led the evacuation from Kabul and was the last soldier out, will lead the forces during their deployment in the NATO-allied nation.
“The rapid deployment and arrival of this Corps within 24 hours upon notification, once again demonstrates our ability to deploy at a moment’s notice,” said Capt. Matt Visser, spokesman for the XVIII Airborne Corps. “Our Corps’ presence serves to bolster existing U.S. forces in Europe and demonstrates our commitment to our NATO Allies and Partners.”
Donahue’s deployment along with the 82nd will serve as strategic messaging to Putin that the U.S. may have withdrawn from Afghanistan but still stands ready to deploy elite forces when needed.
There are around 7,000 Americans registered in Ukraine and an additional 25,000 unregistered. The State Department and other agencies are pressing U.S. citizens to leave as soon as possible as non-combatant evacuations will likely not occur if Russia takes control of the airspace above the country.
Donahue’s presence in the country should therefore serve as some comfort in the event that the situation sours. The U.S. pledged to deploy around 3,000 troops to Poland and Romania as additional coverage should a potential Russian invasion spill into the NATO countries.
The U.S. deployed Tier 1 special operators this past week to kill the head of ISIS in Syria – an area where Russia has operated and controls the airspace.
Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.