US, Polish troops hold war games in Poland to ‘deter’ Russia

Press TV — Jan 31, 2017

A tank fires during the US-Polish military drill in Zagan, Poland, Jan 30, 2017. Click to enlarge

A tank fires during the US-Polish military drill in Zagan, Poland, Jan 30, 2017. Click to enlarge

Thousands of US troops have conducted joint war games with Polish soldiers in Poland’s western town of Zagan as part of the largest US deployment in Europe since the Cold War.

A 3,500-strong combat team of the US 3rd armored brigade from Fort Carson, Colorado, which was deployed earlier this year to Zagan military training area, took part in the drills that began on Monday afternoon in the presence of Polish President Andrzej Duda, Commander of the US Army in Europe Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, and US Ambassador to Warsaw Paul Jones.

During the live-fire exercises the soldiers teamed up to repel an imaginary enemy attack using German-made Leopard tanks from Poland’s 11th Armored Cavalry Division and the American Abrams tanks. Anti-aircraft artillery and helicopters were also involved in the war games as part of the escalating military activities of NATO in Eastern Europe close to Russian borders.

“The best way to make sure that there is never an attack, and I believe it’s unlikely, and the best way to keep it unlikely, is to show a strong, deterrent capability,” said Hodges during a press briefing on Monday.

He added, “Poland will become the center of gravity for US operations in Europe. We believe an attack from the east is unlikely, but it’s having troops on the ground here that makes it even more unlikely.”

The development came as 87 US battle tanks, 144 Bradley fighting vehicles, and 3,500 servicemen arrived in Europe earlier this month, which was part of NATO’s buildup near Russian borders as agreed during NATO’s Warsaw summit last July.

The latest deployment of US military equipment and service members in Poland is another step in Operation Atlantic Resolve, a large-scale military scheme Washington launched in April of 2014, right after Crimea voted in a referendum to become part of Russia.

Following the military drills, US troops will be distributed across Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, and the Baltic countries. The headquarters will be based in Germany.

Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over NATO’s military buildup, with President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, stating earlier this month, “Such actions threaten our interests, our security, especially as it concerns a third party building up its military presence near our borders.”

The largest US military buildup in Europe since the end of the Cold War was part of a bid by the administration of former US President Barack Obama to deter what it claimed was growing Russian aggression in Eastern Europe.

The deployment of US forces to Europe is scheduled for a nine-month rotational basis. It comes as US President Donald Trump has communicated mixed messages about NATO.

While describing NATO as “obsolete” in an interview days before his inauguration, Trump told visiting British Prime Minister Theresa May last week that Washington remains fully committed to NATO.

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